I am all moved in to my new apartment! I am going to be living with two Spaniards, both men. Zigor, 30 is an engineer. Antonio, 34 works in television. The apartment is very nice. Not too modern, not to old fashioned. Pretty much just right. It has a full kitchen that looks out onto the terrace. Yes, the terrace, which is absolutely gigantic and beautiful. Out there we have  a patio table and eight chairs, a sofa, and plants. To be honest, the terrace was the main selling point for me. My room is relatively small, and my dream of having at least full sized bed has been crushed. Unfortunately, I don’t quite fit in the bed and my toes are often hanging over the edge. But in comparison to some of my friends who have yet to even find a piso, I can’t complain.

Luckily I was able to move in, decorate and settle in before I began teaching at my school. I was even able to host a little dinner party, which was so so good for me. I served gambas al ajillo, salad and sangria. My three friends came and two brought guests, and Zigor stayed and joined in on the fun, so the eight of us sat on the terrace for a late, light dinner and talked and laughed. It felt amazing to be able to host people in a city I have only been for two weeks, and in an apartment I had only been in for two days. As my mom pointed out–that is pretty decent progress in terms of meeting people and making connections, as far as the amount of  time I’ve been here goes. Unfortunately, I wasn’t as proud of the shrimp as I would like to have been (I was using frozen shrimp for the first time) but my guests seemed satisfied just the same.

And thennnnn…today was the first day I taught in school! I will be working with second graders on Mondays and Tuesdays and with first graders on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I have Fridays off. And this weekend happens to be the first puente, which happens to be a typical Spanish custom of linking a day off midweek with the previous weekend, creating what is referred to as “bridge”. I am not sure where I will travel (perhaps nowhere and just take my first true touristy look at Madrid) or maybe a nearby Spanish region.

So I loved the children. Although somewhat boisterous and difficult to control, they were all very sweet and eager to please. The second grade teacher I work with though, is somewhat of a different story. He is very nice, but he makes all of these comments in front of the children that make me very uncomfortable. I know there are cultural differences between Spain and the US, but I would think that nowadays, comparing students to one another, out loud, in front of everyone, would be generally regarded as, well, not okay. But he is constantly making comments about how one kid is a problem child and there is just nothing they can do about it, and it might be family problems or it might not be. And then he’ll be like, “And this one definitely has issues but this is a public school and we can’t control what kids we accept and which we don’t. We are required to accept anyone they send us.” And this would be fine if he was simply being informative, but it is pretty clear by the way he speaks and later, by the way he interacts with each child, that he clearly plays favorites without hiding it very much. Or he’ll make a comment such as “Oh, this one is just so smart and intelligent.” Or “Be careful of this one, she’s BAD” The worst comment he made was when he told me, barely under his breath, that one child was a gypsy, and that all gypsies are terrible students. “No se por que, pero así son.”

I mean, it was my first day so maaayyyybe I’m interpreting everything incorrectly and I’ll have a different opinion in a week, but somehow I doubt it. I spoke with another auxiliary who simply said, “Well, that’s one of those things where you’re just going to have to turn a blind eye.” But–I almost NEVER turn a blind eye! But this is also not really the kind of situation where I feel comfortable giving my honest opinion, especially so early on. What are your thoughts on this, especially to the teachers out there (mom, Victoria)? I would love to hear your thoughts.

But all in all, I had a great first day and am looking forward to going again tomorrow. But I do have to say that this weekend schedule the Spaniards have in no way coincides with my ability to be super well rested come Monday. Here’s to hoping I figure that one out!


2 Responses to “firsts”
  1. monica says:

    so when does your long weekend vacation begin? it is not clear if it is next Wed or??
    I suggest you speak to la profesora de ingles who you found very approachable; she knows the culture of the school there and what the expectations are; I agree with you and think it is at the minimum totally unprofessional and of course hurtful to the children’s self esteem and capacity to learn; tons of research show that if you hve low expectations of the children they will give little; clear they must have little respect for him and will probably see you the same until you prove yourself different; will you be alone in class with them? is he the profesor de ingles in the second grade? In the meantime, make their time with you wholesome, engaging, fun, active and calm; what you give them they will receive. You are experiencing a microcosm; we can only shine our light where we are; if our light is strong, constant–not necessarily huge–even if gradually, eventually it will spread.

  2. tess says:

    teach them about communism.

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