It’s been almost an entire semester of working at my high school in Spain. It never occurred to me to tell you all what my days are like. I figured I’d tell you about my last Thursday, aka, the day that I ran around town at 8 am looking for an open tobacco shop and ended it with getting children to blow putty out their nose.
6:00AM – My alarm goes off. Thursdays are my earliest days right now (my schedule changes at the end of the semester), and I don’t wake up the same time every day (a bad habit, I know!). This day, I sit in bed for another 40 minutes checking emails, watching Youtube videos and slowly waking up.
6:40AM – I get out of bed finally and go to to the kitchen to brew some tea and make breakfast. A while ago I bought some uncut bacon and had to cut it myself. It’s so thick as a result, that I don’t really eat it. I’ve come up with the idea to cut the bacon into smaller pieces so it cooks faster and then stir in an egg. It turns out to be an egg patty of sorts for breakfast sandwiches.
7:00AM – I eat my breakfast and take my daily medications and vitamins while finishing up on a presentation for one of my classes. I wasn’t given any direction for it, but I’m expected to stand in front of a class for nearly an hour. I decide to talk about English Globalization with my advanced classes, making note of hybrid languages like Spanglish in the US. I figured that they’d enjoy it.
7:40AM – I get dressed… slowly.
7:50AM – I realize that I forgot to check the balance on my bus pass. The process of refilling my specialty bus pass requires me to go to Tobacco shops where they sell cigarettes. Why? I don’t know. But either way, I should have left my apartment twenty minutes ago to give myself some time.
7:55AM – I get downstairs and see that the tobacco shop I frequent is closed. I decide to just wing it and try my bus pass, maybe I’ve got an extra ticket (they’re given in denominations of 20).
8:00AM – My suspicions were right. I don’t have any available tickets on my bus pass. I miss the bus.
8:05AM – I try to find a tobacco shop that’s open. Most places don’t open ’til 9. After some wandering, I find a spot open and refill my card.
8:20AM – I catch the bus to school. I send my first class’ teacher a text saying I’ll be late. She tells me not to worry.
8:50AM – I get to class for my 9th graders sweaty and out of breath. I decide to present them with irregular past indicative. Aka, he spent time with his family, or he read a book, she laid the book down. I put a bunch of funny videos in there to keep them interested.
The dog dreamed (in the US)/ dreamt (everywhere else) of running.
9:20AM – I get to my amplicación class (advanced English for students who choose to stay in school another 2 years after they could have graduated). The students have just been working on job interview practice. Turns out, I don’t have to present anything at all. I help out the students with interview questions.
10:15AM – I go to my 4C class, all 15/16 year olds. Today’s topic was requested by my professor, “Responsible Cell Phone Use.” The students don’t exactly buy my warnings. When I suggest they don’t use their phones before bed or sleep near their phone, they look at me like,
11:10AM – Finally, a break! I take the time to chat with my coworkers in the teacher’s lounge while eating an apple. With all of the student’s eating lunch, we all congregate in the room, either eating ourselves or preparing for upcoming classes. After some time, the bell rings for classes to begin again, so some teacher’s go back to work. I have the period off though, so I go to the computer lab to do some research for an upcoming interview.
12:30PM – Thursdays I have what are called desdobles, where I visit two classes within a single period. This class includes two sophomore classes. The first is a group of sweet and sassy students who keep up with my presentation on regular past indicative. They ask questions, and are quick to offer their own little anecdotes in the past tense when asked.
“One time when I was young, I…. cómo se dice chocar?”
“I crash into a ….cómo se dice la fuente de agua?”
“Water fountain on my bike! I was riding my bike and I went down and crash into a water fountain.”
At which point the teacher says, “We haven’t even started learning the past continuous! You’re so bright!”
1:00PM – I switch into the other class. This one is of a lower English level, so their activities are sometimes different. The teacher wraps up her presentation on the 80s and gives me the floor. I do my same presentation on the simple past, but they don’t really pick up what I’m putting down. Sometimes it’s because they truly don’t understand me, other times they just don’t care and don’t participate. They’re a difficult group to motivate, and have proven themselves a challenge to me as someone learning how to teach.
1:30PM – I end the day with another desdoble. Because one of the teachers I work with during this class is out sick, we combine both classes into one. This presents a problem! It’s a similar situation to the students from the previous desdoble, where there are very different levels of English. Unfortunately for this class, half of the students take their studies seriously and the other half either don’t or simply can’t keep up with me. It created a tense and chaotic dynamic with some students talking nonstop (a real problem when teaching in Spain, it’s a typical behavior that all of my classes deal with), other students trying to hear me over the noise of other students, and every 3 minutes a student would shout ¡cállate! – Shut up! – at another student. The class went from 10-14 students each to 24. It was frustrating. I had to constantly stop talking and wait for quiet, only for it to begin again once I started talking. Eventually I had to switch to Spanish to scold a few students, a practice I’m not the best at just yet (it generally gets a response of fear followed by, “YOU SPEAK SPANISH!?!?!”)
Eventually my presentation is over and my professor tells me that if I want to leave for home now, I could. I take this opportunity and escape!
2:30PM – I finally make it home. I cook a quick meal of pizza and eat the entire thing (I’m not proud of it…. okay, maybe just a little). I take a quick nap before my tutoring session in a few hours.
6:20PM – I get dressed and walk to the academy that I tutor at. I lost my abono, transportation card, not too long ago, so I’ve been walking everywhere lately. This walk is particularly strenuous. Lots of hills, including one that goes on for at least 5 minutes, steadily upward. I consider doing this walk even after I replace my abono, but that hill always convinces me otherwise.
7:00PM – I start tutoring these two 8 year olds. This gig is temporary and this is my last class with these two. I’m so thankful! The kids are kids, and once again, that is not something I’m used to. The last time I taught them they kept playing with slime and I had to keep scolding them and taking it away, but they always brought out more! Today they’re keeping the slime out of my sight -poorly- and I notice that one of them is having some discomfort. He keeps scratching at his face. I ask him if he’s okay, and he points to his nose.
He stuck slime up his nose.
8:00PM – I walk home, thankful that the walk home is downhill rather than uphill. I’m exhausted, but I made a few bucks on the side and survived this chaotic day.
Not all my days are like this, but Thursdays, sometimes called Cursedays by my coworker and I, are especially crazy sometimes. Since I started tutoring more often, many of my days are getting longer. But it’s a good kind of busy, the kind of busy that puts you closer to your goals.
So there you have it, a day in the life! Join me later this week for a money diary, aka, How I Get By on an Auxiliar Salary.