Tuesday, 18 December 2012

I love my job

A month or so ago I wrote a post contrasting the advantages and disadvantages of working as an auxiliar or studying on your year abroad. At that time I still felt quite out of it at the school and felt I'd picked the rather harder option.
Up until 2 weeks ago I still felt out of my depth. I felt totally out of the loop with things that were going on in the school and in private classes I always felt like I should be doing more. 

However about a week ago I got all my complaints out to a friend who reassured me that I should give myself a break and just relax. 
With the flowers they made to celebrate gender equality
It worked. 

The last week everything has suddenly fallen into place and I feel so so lucky to be able to say that I really love my job. Here are just a few reasons why:

1. The kids.
This one just had to come first. I have never been a 'child person' in my life. I have no younger siblings and children normally bored me after about 10 minutes of play. But now I seriously look forward to seeing the children every day. They're so random and insanely honest. I love it how they tell me things about their life and just accept that I'm part of the classroom. The kids I teach in my private classes can be a struggle sometimes but then they can really surprise me too. For instance, one little boy CONSTANTLY asks me how much time of class is left. However, last week we were playing a game in English and he asked me how much time was left. I responded with how much left of the class but then he said no, he meant on the timer we were using to play the game. It was lovely to see that he was so involved with the game he didn't even care how much time we had left of the class.

2. Confidence
Teaching not only gives you confidence but it also teaches you the benefits of just faking confidence and hoping for the best! Children not only respond well to it but I also think they learn better when you have it too- the class is quieter and they like the structure it brings. Basically in the last week I decided to take control in a few of the classes I felt could use more direction and volunteered to organise the infant classes myself, effectively reversing the typical role of the auxiliar in the classroom, making the teacher into my support. We held the first of these classes today and while it was not a resounding success it was far better than the last two months have been- hopefully if we stick to the same routine the children will continue to respond better! Also confidence in my private classes has allowed me to relax and joke around with the kids a lot which helps SO MUCH. We're all starting to enjoy them more nowadays.

3. Learning about Spain
What did you learn about at school? St Patrick's day? Christmas? Independence Day? School was made not just to teach you about maths and english but also about the society you live in. As a result I get to learn about Spain through a child's eyes! I've seen the differences between how the UK and Spain celebrate Halloween and Christmas and witnessed the children celebrate 'El día contra la violencia género' (Anti- gender violence day). However my favourite has to be when we celebrated 'El día de la consitución'. The children all dressed up in traditional Andalusian dress and sung and danced to a song about Cádiz, the city most symbolic in the fight against fascism (See the video above- if you skip to 0.56 you see the costumes in full and even hear an olé!).  However even on a day to day basis I learn when they tell me about their lives.

4. I feel useful
Moving to another country has taught me that learning a language is not just a boring task involving memorising verb tables but something that can genuinely can open up your life so many opportunities- and be enjoyable! I try to make my private classes as fun as possible because I think the most important thing for children so young is not to actually learn the language but rather that they want to learn the language. When people assume I'm a student I love being able to correct them and then see the surprise on their faces when I tell them I work in a school. It's also awesome to go to work every day colour in, sing songs, hear funny stories and still know that I'm doing something valuable. Even if I do come home exhausted.

Of course there are down sides: badly behaved kids, early starts, some rather boring topics which have to be covered and a sense of helplessness when the kids keep asking me something in Spanish and I've no idea what they're saying.
Some of my first years. I have class with them
 last thing on  Friday afternoon and they 
And I have no doubt in my mind that at some point next semester, when I'm surrounded by class planners and flashcards, that I'll laugh scornfully at having ever written this post.

But for now I am privileged to say that I love my job. And that's not something many people get to say.  

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Seville and Córdoba

Plaza de España
Ridiculously long public holidays and getting every Monday off means that it would be a genuine crime not to travel every time a puente comes around. Therefore, to avoid incarceration, 7 of us set off bright and early on Thursday morning for the looooong trip to Seville.

Seville is the capital of Andalucia and rightly so in my opinion. It's heaving with history, tapas and fiesta, and there's something oh so quintessentially Spanish about those orange trees. The people are passionate (rude) and the enormous festival which was taking place while we were there gave us a glimpse into their strong adherence to tradition.
Christmas market in Seville
The Plaza de España, the world famous Cathedral and the Álcazar were all visited. In fact we fell in love with the Plaza de España so much that we decided to go twice- and Occupy Almería while we were at it*! It was also hard to resist spending all our time at the Christmas markets!

The Mezquita
After a lengthy night out and ungodly rise at 10am it was time to head to Córdoba. A much smaller city, Córdoba doesn't have quite the same buzz as Seville but it does have an intricate network of beautiful streets and a fascinating, if somewhat bloody, history. We came to this conclusion after finding a street named "Calle Cabeza" after the children one of the leaders of the city were killed and had their heads displayed along the street. Oh that, and our hostel was most definitely haunted.
Córdoba's most famous monument is the Mezquita, which has both a Mosque and Cathedral in one. Definitely worth a visit and it's free if you can get there before 9:30am- but make sure the guard is in a good mood.

Mini Steph
The best thing about this trip has to be the amount of laughter on it: from inventing 'Callie-ing' after our very own Callie Longo: Standing awkwardly near an object/person; to telling our Italian roommates that they were ghosts; to stealing portraits from the hostel to replace Steph in the photographs.

Look very closely to the right and
you can see some real life Callie-ing!

The craic was mighty.

*The Plaza has small squares dedicated to each province in Spain. We decided to sleep off our hangovers in a familiar setting...