Muy buenas, gentle readers.
I’m tempted to change the opening for this blog to something more catchy…maybe a little more Gossip Girl-esque. But, despite their similarities, this is Madrid, not New York, and I´m a little more Javier Calvo than Blake Lively.
But I digress. I would apologize for last week´s post being something of a downer, but you all do need to know that this experience is going to be trying at times and push you to be your best self. This post is going to be much more cheery, so no worries. I am feeling much better after turning in my curriculum design draft and realizing that living without a computer really isn’t that bad. Dicho eso, let´s dive into your practicum.
The name of this program is Teach and Learn, so that’s exactly what you will be doing. Remember that you only have your masters classes on Friday afternoons so the rest of your week will be spent with your students. You will be assigned to a school of the program´s choice in la comunidad de Madrid so your assignment may not be close to your living quarters. Have no fear because public transportation is here. Also, If you have never taught before it´s ok, because we will have a tips and tricks post next week to ensure that you are top of the class and successful in the classroom. For now, let’s talk shop about how you can rule the school.
- Your school schedule will be determined by your placement school.
Refer to my prior post about the overall program structure for more info. You will have the option of working either 18 or 25 hours per week, and while your input is taken into consideration with your enrollment into the program, the final decision is made by Instituto Franklin. Your schedule with your actual school and how your hours are distributed will come from your assigned school. If at all possible, ask for Fridays off so that you have ample time to get to Alcalá in the afternoon. For instance, from my school in Getafe to Alcalá it would take about an hour and a half to get there, if not more. However, please note that your schedule is assigned by your school coordinator or your jefe de estudios so you may not have that option.
- Spain´s grading scale is from 0 – 10 instead of #/100 or a percentage with letters assigned.
A failing grade is a 4.9 and under, and 5.0 and above is passing. Grades usually have a decimal attached, so you could hypothetically have a student that got an 8.75 on their math test, a 7.4 on their English test, and a 9.3 on their science test. In my experience I haven’t been asked to give or assign grades, but de todas formas you should be familiar with the system so that you can gain some an understanding of how a student in progressing in your class.
- You will work under at least one teacher regularly.
I work under two different tutoras, but I´m in a small private school and I’m the only auxiliar. I know other program participants who collaborate with only one teacher all day and others who have to collaborate with about ten. It all depends on your school. Make sure you communicate openly with your teachers about how they manage their classroom, what the school policies are, what their expectations are for you, and what they want your role in the classroom to be. Every teacher is different, and therefore every classroom dynamic is going to differ. Make sure you’re flexible, because in some classes you may teach more and some classes you may spend correcting workbooks. Staying flexible and being adaptable is one of the best teaching qualities you could have so stay on your toes.
- You are here to learn, so act like it.
I spoke to a few teachers today about what they expect from their practicum students, and the most common thread was the following:
Be involved. What do I mean by that? Get involved in the activities, actively interact with the students, suggest ideas and collaborate with the teacher, exchange knowledge, and collaborate to make the classroom better. Use your resources and add to the children´s experience. Make sure you’re there with ganas de enseñar, instead of sitting there like a piece of furniture. Don’t wait for an assignment to come to you; ask what you need to be doing and insist on working. Again, interact with your students and follow your teacher’s example of how the classroom is managed so that the kids have a consistent environment. In education, nothing is worse than an inconsistent teacher. Keep things the same as possible so as to ensure that things are getting accomplished. (More on how to do that next week.) Also be open to feedback and make sure you are seeking it out as well. Spaniards are notorious for not telling things face-to-face when it comes to a professional setting for fear of being rude, so track your own progress and start a dialogue a menudo about how you’re doing. Even if you´re an experienced teacher like me, you can always learn something new, so be open to it.
- BE PATIENT
Let me repeat myself en negrilla: Be patient. You are working with kids who are still learning how to behave properly. Lead by good example and redirect their misbehaviors. This is the hardest part of teaching. I always tell people that I have far more patience for children than adults, because in theory adults should know how to behave properly, be respectful, and so on. Children are still learning these things. Education means teaching values, social skills, higher-order thinking skills, and so much more in addition to teaching phrasal verbs. You’re coming from a different culture as are your students, so you have to look for understanding between the both of you. Remember also that teenagers, as physically big as they are and as grown as they might act, are still learning too. Breathe, count to ten. You got this.
- The Instituto Franklin has got your back.
The administrative staff and profesorado are here for you. If there is a problem at school, do what you can to resolve it with them, but if you feel the need then reach out to your beloved Instituto Franklin for assistance. You´re not alone in this.
This is going to be a new experience you, your students, and your entire school staff. They’ve never had anyone like you before and the most likely never will again. Remember to be open and communicate; this is a new relationship for all of you and you want to make this work. Again, las prácticas are about ⅓ of your overall grade and without them you will not succeed in the Teach and Learn Program. We will go over teaching tips and tricks for classroom management next week.
Until then, enjoy the budding springtime weather. It has finally gotten warm and even a little humid in Madrid. No more wind and cold rain. My email is in the bio below should you need to reach out to me for anyone questions or anything else. I´m off to the gym.