What exactly am I doing here in Madrid?

Well, right now I’m having tea in one of my favorite new café’s and blogging, but that’s not quite what I’m talking about. What got me here to my new home of Madrid is a program called Teach & Learn. It’s a program through the Franklin Institute at the University of Alcalá, in which I am both teaching and learning (creative name, huh?). It’s a scholarship where I’m at UAH to get my Master’s in International Education while also doing a teaching internship. I’m a student teacher/English teacher at a lovely school called Colegio Ártica located in La Peseta. I work 18 hours a week, Monday thru Friday, and teach 10 classes ranging from 4th-6th grade. Here’s a little bit about the school and what my role there is.

Colegio Ártica is part of an organization called UCETAM. UCETAM is a Cooperative Teacher’s Union in Madrid. This means that the teacher are also the owners of the school. Plus, there are a few schools in UCETAM that are considered bilingual. This means that every week, each class has 2 additional hours of English learning in addition to teaching Science in English. And guess who the teacher/assistant of those two extra hours is? Such good guessers you are, it’s me. These hours are based less on grammar and written exercises, which are covered during English lessons, and more on speaking the language. Hence the want for a native speaker in the classroom.

For my 4th graders, the 2 hours are called ‘Wonderland’ and each month has one or two topics that we focus on. There are vocab words that we want them to know by the end and we have them talk about those themes. For example, September is Back to School and Seasons. The name Wonderland comes from the extra room that the school has dedicated to hands on language learning. There are no desks but rather a play kitchen set and room for making realistic life scenarios for the kids to act out. 1 of the 2 hours is spent in ‘Wonderland’ and the 2nd hour is in their classroom.

For my 5th and 6th graders, we move out of Wonderland and go to Projects. Projects is divided up into three trimesters. Both grades start the 1st trimester with mini-projects. These are week long projects or activities that are, for the most part, relate back to Science since it’s their other subject in English. For example, last week we learned about space and the distance between the planets in our solar system. The kids scaled the distances down and then placed the planets onto a long piece of string so they could see how far or close the Sun is to the rest of the planets. The 2nd trimester is different for each grade. The 5th graders are focusing on the ‘Huerto’ of the school aka the veggie garden. They study the Huerto from 1st grade but in 5th, they start to actually plant and take care of the garden. 6th graders, meanwhile, are focusing on the ‘Cocina’ or the kitchen/cooking. They learn the vocabulary of how to cook and then they actually cook! At the end, we film them putting on a cooking show a la Food Network. Finally, the 3rd trimester is focused on the trips the classes have planned at the end of the year. They’ll learn about the different cities and start to raise money for the trip.

Like I mentioned before, I’m also getting my Master’s during this. I go to class once a week, on Friday nights, at UAH and complete online classes during the week. My master’s will be in International Education and I will graduate at the end of next June. I’m taking 8 classes ranging from Teaching Methods to Global English in an Intercultural Environment. Other classes are International Education & the Comparison of Education Models and Management & Leadership in International schools. It’s directed towards future teachers and administrators of international schools. Here’s the website with more information about it for whoever is interested: http://www.institutofranklin.net/en/academic-programs/teach-learn-spain-program/master-en-ensenanza-de-la-lengua-literatura-y-cultura-en-el-mundo-hispanico.

I’m two weeks into working at the school and I love it so far. My teachers and the coordinators are all super nice and open to having the auxiliaries, or language assistants, at the schools. My first class, Teaching Methods, is also fascinating. It’s about the different methods of teaching (another very creative title). We’re studying methods used all over the world and what makes them successful in some places but not others. Pretty neat stuff.


And that is the long story long about my life here in Madrid… the one besides sipping on my Sunday afternoon tea and people watching, that is.


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