The Monday through Friday “work-week” is much different here in Spain for me and Mariah, compared to our life in Arizona. Here is a quick insight into some daily routines I have, and how they stack up to my former “life” as a public school teacher in Arizona.
The Daily Grind
The school I work in starts at 9 a.m. My first week I was told to not show up any earlier than 8:45, because there may be no one there to let me in! This was quite a surprise as I had become accustomed to getting to my school an hour or more in advance. This has been an easy change to get used to, and I certainly don’t mind getting to work at 8:50. My commute via bike takes roughly 3 minutes, so I don’t have to be out the door until 8:45.
A brief summary of my job as an language assistant is that I am in English classes, assisting the main teacher in planning and teaching English lessons, games, activities, and projects. I am in grades 1,2, and 3, so as you can imagine, their English is very basic, but emerging and growing every day! Some days we have to stick with a predertmined lesson plan provided by the English learning program the school uses. Other classes the teacher and I can work off-script and make games or activities to reinforce topics and skills. Phonics is a big part of all 3 of my grades I teach, as letters in Spanish make different sounds than those in English, and a big part of English teaching is understanding the English sounds. At first it sounded overwhelming to me, as I come from a background of teaching science and math at the middle school level, but I really enjoy it and can easily see how it is so important as a building block for these students.
I start the day with 2, hour long classes, and then meet with all the primary school teachers for what is called “coffee break”. Fortunately, it is exactly what it sounds like, a break (while kids go to the playground) and teachers drink coffee, eat snacks and spend time together.
The bell rings, and we all head back to our classes, which are in session for one more hour, ending at 12:30. After this session it is “Mediodia” or the middle part of the day, which lasts until 2:30. Students can go home for lunch, or can stay at the school for food as well as a loooong recess time.
The teachers spend the first hour of this break in meetings, planning together, or other tasks needed to be prepare the next day’s lessons. The language assistants don’t have to attend these meetings, which leaves us free to work in the staff work-room. Most days I do not have any work to do, which means I pedal home and take a nap or spend some time with Mariah. Now that the weather is cooling off, I will start bringing running clothes to the school and go for a run during this hour. At 1:30 the teachers go to lunch in the cafeteria which is now cleared out of kids. We have a daily salad bar and a main course, along with bread and yogurt for dessert. The lunches are always super filling, and are a fantastic time to sit and talk with the other teachers. The staff here seems to be very familial, which is no surprise, seeing how much time they get to spend together.
At 2:30, kids and teachers alike head back to their rooms for two, 45 minute classes to finish the day. These usually go by very fast, and the kids are either very tired, or very wound up from a two hour break /lunch. At 4, the kids are released and I bike home.
After School Activities
Slowly, we have developed a rough routine of daily activities that we do together of separately.
Monday- A relatively “free” day for both of us, which we fit in a workout, as well as a trip to the local grocery store for the week’s provisions.
Tuesday- I teach a private English class/lesson from 6-7 at a local rock climbing gym, who graciously lets me use one of their classrooms. Afterwards, I climb and workout at the gym for a few hours. Mariah has Spanish Class from 6-8 at a nearby community center. We both are tired by the time we reconvene at home and are ready to relax and go to bed.
Wednesday- Another “free day” for us where we try to do something together. Some weeks it is a walk to a park, a bike ride, making a new meal, or running errands together.
Thursday– Mariah made a connection with a lady who runs an after school program for refugee students. We bike to the center where the program is and volunteer with the kids for an hour. Mariah then has to bike over to to her 7 o clock Spanish class. I ride my bike to meet her after class and we go to a local restaurant that is by a roundabout with a beautiful fountain. We enjoy food and drink on the patio and take in the lights and people watch.
Friday– No routines for us on Friday, but most weeks we connect with someone from my school and spend time with them in the city center of Madrid.
I hope this is a helpful little insight into our day-to-day, and stay tuned to hear Mariah’s normal routines while I am off teaching English.