Wondering what a day in the life of a language assistant in Spain is really like? Well, let me be the one to tell you, it´s not all glitz and glam. But, I can promise that no two days are the same, no two experiences will be the same; yet, everyday is an adventure.
I’m here to give you a glance at a typical day for me. I teach primarily infantil (3-5 year olds), and a few 1st and 2nd grade classes. I chose Tuesday because it’s the day that I teach almost all grade levels, as well as two private classes after school, which is my norm. So, what’s a typical Tuesday for me? Here goes:
7:13: My first of three alarms sound. I roll over , hit the snooze button, and was well on my way to drifting back to sleep when I realized it’s Tuesday and two of my other roommate’s morning schedules kind of collide. So, to
not be forced to make morning small talk, and by small talk I mean say ¨hi¨ stay out of everyone’s way I usually get up and do all my bathroom duties before everyone else.
But first, just a couple more minutes.
I finally peel myself out of bed and get a move on, around 7:16.
After doing all my bathroom stuff, I crawl back into bed. What? Don’t judge me. This is a judgement free zone. Usually, this is my time ¨Jesus time¨. I say a little prayer, set my intentions for the day, all things of the sort. But, if I’m being totally honest, sometimes I drift back off and then wake up and have to frantically scurry to get out the door.
8:20: Yep. I milked the extra time just a little too much this morning and now I’m running late. I rush to get ready and I’m out the door in 7 minutes.
8:27: I leave my flat and power walk to the metro. I arrive at 8:30 (thank God for living around the corner from the metro) and do a half walk, half run to get to the platform by 8:31. The start of my morning commute. I typically read a book during my commute, my latest read is The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, or watch the back of my eyelids and try to keep my head from bobbing like a bobble head. This morning the former won *fist pumps*. It’s going to be a productive day.
2 transfers and 3 trains later I arrive in Getafe. I’m famished this morning so I stop at a stand at the metro station and pick up a slice of pizza (because breakfast of champions, right?). I usually eat a fiber bar for breakfast, but I ran out and haven´t been to the store, so pizza it is.
9:14: I arrive to school with a minute to spare. Pushing it kind of close, but I made it.
9:15: First period starts with a 4 year old class. We’re learning about insects and birds, but primarily the life cycle of butterflies. We always start with a warm-up song or two. This morning it was the Hokey Pokey and Freeze Dance (because I think I might scream if I hear the Hello Song and Weather Song one more time), and then a random “quiet down” song on I found on YouTube.
This is a rowdy class. Their attention spans are about the length of the ants we’re learning about. I have no support in the classroom (literally, the Spanish teacher doesn’t even show up, which is another story for another post), so I’m on my own. Given this, the activities have to be quick and interactive. After warm up songs we review our flashcards. I choose a student to be my mini teacher who then comes up and reviews with the class. We do this twice, with one boy and one girl. Afterwards, I have students put the flash cards in order on the board in the order of the butterfly life cycle. Then a few interactive Smartboard activities, and finally a color and cut activity. 99% of the time there is going to be some sort of coloring or craft activity, because 1) who doesn’t love coloring and crafts, and 2) my Spanish is very minimal and my kids’ English level is minimalER (yep, I just made that up) so, I do activities that are simple to explain and easy for them to follow.
10:15: Second period. I walk into the room of perpetual complete kiddie chaos and step over Mario, who is army crawling on the floor. Like every other Tuesday, I’m immediately greeted with the familial wails of Carla. ¨Todos los dias Carla. Que pasa?¨I ask from across the room. But, before she could respond through her torrent of tears and sad sobs, I was ambushed by big hugs and tugs coming from every direction. Oh, and today was extra special because one of my kiddos (who I was convinced was terrified of me when I first started, but now clings to me like bad static) had the most adorable song for me. It went something like this….Toooby, Tooooby, Toby Toby Toby! How stinkin´cute, right? Toby…Colby…eh, close enough.
Meet my 3 year olds of class 1A.
They’re in the middle of morning snack so the kids are running amuck when I arrived (who am I kidding? They’re always running amuck). I actually have a Spanish Teacher in this class, so I actually do what my job description requires of me and assist (not lead a full class). Even he can’t control this class of terrors, so we basically spend the entire class yelling stop, Mario, sit down, listen, Mario, pay attention, Mario, Mario, Mario, all to no avail.
Who is Mario, you ask? He is the star of the one man show, Mario! The most adorable, high energy, exhausting, all over the place three year old you ever will meet.
After failed attempts of doing interactive Smartboard activities the head teacher gave up and let the kids run wild until it was time for recess. A pretty typical Tuesday in 1A.
10:45: Break Time. During this time I usually work on some sort of blog stuff and/or grab a coffee with my friend/co-worker/fellow blogger, Mark, from The Mark Experience.
11:30: 3rd period with 4 year olds. This class is another of my not so favorites. Out of control is an understatement, and another class, where it’s just me, no assistance. The class activities for this class is pretty much identical to that of first period’s.
12:25: Lunch/Siesta. Yes, yes…siestas are very much real in Spain. We have a 2 hour (2 hours and 20 minutes for me, since infantil lets out earlier) lunch period everyday. I head to the teacher’s room, heat up leftovers, and work on blog related stuff. Sometimes I nap, but most of the time I try to utilize the time to get other work done so it’s less stuff I have to do when I get home.
2:45: Ask any teacher in primary and it will be a consensus that 2A, a second grade class, is THE worst class in all of primary.
“They’re impossible!” They’ll say. I can’t say that I disagree. I typically don’t do much in this class besides the warm up. The teacher usually lead and I assist. Since my school is a bilingual school there are some subjects that are taught in English, such as Natural Science and Social Science. This class is one of my Social Science classes. They’re finished with their unit, so today they worked in groups to draw a map of Spain and its autonomous communities. Aside from the occasional outburst of “Turn down for what!” and the “We Will Rock You” chant at the beginning of class, I’d say today’s class was pretty good.
3:45: Ahhh, almost at the finish line. Back to infantil. This is the highlight of my day everyday. Arriving on the infantil hallway and all my 3-year old tiny humans are just waking from their afternoon naps and going to the potty. I can always count on seeing some of my favorites. When they finally spot me their little sleepy heads perk up and they run up to me with their little adorable, 3-year old, wobbly runs and give me the biggest hugs. They tell me all about their day, (I’m assuming. I actually have no clue what they are talking about, ever) and I just nod and throw in a ¨Si?!¨ or ¨Muy bien!¨ or just repeat a word or two that I actually understood.
On to my 5th and final class of the day with 5-year olds. This is a pretty good class. I essentially follow the same model as the 4-year old classes: mini teacher (but having them ask their peers questions such as ¨How are you today?¨and asking about the weather), flashcards, interactive activity, worksheet.
4:25: Infantil classes are let out for the day; however, most other grades are not released until 4:45. The coup de gras to this otherwise normal day happened when I was walking down the infantil corridor, and I stopped to ¨chat¨ with some of my students. Out of nowhere one of my 3-year olds decided he wanted to play hide and go peek under my dress. He lifted my dress way above his head and proceeded to hide underneath, giving all the teachers and students in the hall a front row show to all my goodies *inserts whhhhy emoji face here*. Granted my dress looked like a big tent, that was worthy of hiding under, but no sir! So, here I am twirling and whirling, snatching and grabbing at this kid that skillfully eludes me, while being assed out. Literally! A day in the life…
More…Work, Work, Work, Work, Work
My day isn’t quite over yet. I still have 2 private classes to teach this evening that don´t start until 5:45. In the meantime, I plan out what today´s activities are going to be.
5:15: Leave school to take the train to my private class.
5:45: First private class with a 7 year old. This kid is a handful, to say the least. Very high energy, very short attention span, literally bounces off the bed, walls, furniture and everything else. He’s a challenge, but I somewhat enjoy it, because I feel like most days I’m able to tame him, to a degree, and get him to focus. I like to get to witness his progress. The last couple weeks has been a little better than usual, as he
thankfully woefully, broke his ankle and has been forced to sit still.
6:45: Second private class of the evening with the older brother. He’s 10, perfectly fluent in English, and is incredibly smart. I like this kid. He’s also a bit of a smart ass, and so am I, so our conversations are hilarious. Usually, he’s pretty laid back, but today it’s like him and his brother switched places. Bouncing off the walls is an understatement. Finally, I asked him, ¨What is wrong with you today?¨. He told me he’d had coffee after school. That definitely explains it.
7:45: Class is finally over. I head back to the train station. 3 trains and 2 transfers later, I’m back to where I started…home.
Home At Last
8:45: Back at home and the first thing I usually do is take a shower, because I’ve just spent an entire day at the Germ Factory. However, tonight I’m starving so I eat dinner first, then shower.
9:30(ish): I settle into my workstation, aka my bed, and start the night shift. More blog related stuff. Tonight I finished up an article, worked with a guy on fixing some backend website issues, but mostly I spent time reaching out to brands for collaboration opportunities.
2:15 a.m.(ish): I finally shut my brain off for the night and drifted off to sleep, only to do it all again the next day.
I really need to get more sleep.
You know, after finishing this I’m wondering why I chose Tuesdays after all. It’s my least favorite day and all of my worst classes (Terrible Tuesday is what it is). But, there you have it…a day in the life of a BEDA Language Assistant.
Want to learn more about living & teaching in Spain and how to get the job? Read here!
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