"This is Day 1 Out of a Whole Year"

June 2, 2017

"This is day 1 out of a whole year, then you start to adjust. You will catch on quick." My mother was reminicing about her days teaching English abroad in Mexico when she was my age. She did the same thing and had the time of her life, she even befriened one of the students who is still in our lives today, 40 years later. The bar was set. Living in a foriegn country for almost a year was only a few days away but still seemed like it wasn't actually going to happen. Something would come up and I would stay home or only end up there for a month etc. How, as someone who doesn't even know how to breathe around a kid, was I going to spend a year working closely with them and teaching them English. I have never been good with kids, some people can just go up to them, strike up a conversation, and its all laughs and connections. But me, well I go up to them, say something that isn't funny and watch them slowly inch away to someone more interesting. Nevertheless, I still somehow managed to make it through one month of the typical 9-5, plus a 90 minute commute,.... and children. 



I have basic level Spanish, sometimes I even struggle speaking English, and now here I am in Spain having to teach a whole elementary school of Spainish kids how to speak English properly (when they have only learned British English). I made it through my first month as an Auxiliar, and what I experienced was far from what I expected. 



I arrived at the school 30 minutes early on my first day only to be greeted by a small woman rambling the fastest Spanish I have ever heard, ignoring the fact that I had no idea what she was saying. Finally my bilingual coordinator found me and lead me to the teachers lounge where more Spanish people came at me speaking as fast as they possibly could (I swear they were doing it on purpose). 


The first few weeks were rough, the traveling germs finally decided to catch up to me when I moved into my new appartment. I was sick for a solid three weeks overlapping into my first week of school. I ended up having to miss school to go to the emergency room and get antibiotics. I was already making a great first impression. 


Talking to the kids was my biggest obstical, how was I going to be "the cool teacher" if I wasn't cool. I was surprised to see the amount of comfort the students already had with me before we even met. On my first day some kids ran up and hugged me it was so... unusually welcoming. 


I started to develop class favorites and figure out how to work with them. They seemed to be warming up to me and I slowly became comfortable giving them direction. I started to feel like I was getting the hang of it right around Halloween. Halloween seemed to be a full week leading up to the holiday (which was celebrated on Friday). Every class was preparing and doing activities, while the other auxilliar and I were getting ready for our American Halloween presentation. I was really starting to bond with the students, having them help me decorate the hallways and doors, it was great, maybe I would finally have a chance of being the teacher they get so excited to see. 


Halloween in Spain is known to be solely scary, none of that lingere with cat ears going on here. They want it to be very gorey and creepy. The other auxilliar and I thought it would be a great idea to put one of those videos where you watch closely and something scary pops out with a really loud noise in our powerpoint. During our presentation we ended up making about 5 students from the older classes cry... things were not going as planned. I started to second guess the life sized ghost statues I made for the haunted house. I had them waiting upstairs,

ready for their debut. 



I walked into my next class hoping for some great scare stories about the haunted house and instead found the whole entire class crying almost hysterically. They couldn't go in the haunted house, it was too scary. I started to feel bad and really akward because I greatly contributed to the nightmares of half an elementary school. I braced myself for some repercussions.


To my surprise, the teachers thought it was funny. No one was mad. I was finally settling in. Getting comfortable with your school and coworkers will always be the hardest part. It took me almost a whole month and I still have a long way to go, but my only advice would be to just do what you love. If your really artsy, incoporate that into your lesson plans. You will be more excited to come to work everyday and it will show through in your attitude and work ethic. Like they all said "this is what you make it." 



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