Fun and Germs: My first few weeks as an Auxiliar del Ingles
Originally posted October 24, 2014 on my tumblr.
“This is a ghost and this is a fat Halloween lady and this is Spongebob and this is my mom.”
The mind of a four-year-old is a strange and surprising place, I thought, as Marcos explained his colorful blobs to me this week. We were drawing fall things, such as red leaves and orange pumpkins, but as Marcos demonstrated, interpreting the final product was more like reading a weird stream-of-consciousness novel.
It’s been pretty fun to find myself back in a kindergarten classroom, with all the tiny chairs and picture books and glitter. It’s also been alarming, with all the crying and chocolate milk spills and germ-infested play-dough. Sometimes it’s frustrating, and it’s almost always exhausting. It’s not exactly what I had in mind when I enrolled in this program, but I’m taking it hour by hour, day by day, poco a poco as the Spaniards always say. And at least with most of my classes, I’m learning to like it. I like their unapologetic enthusiasm and their smiles dotted with missing teeth and the way you can see their minds churning as they count on their fingers. I love when they don’t know a word in English but they hazard a guess anyway, and the attempt is both wrong and completely reasonable. For example, the word was deer.
As cute as the kids are (and they are so cute), this is a difficult job, and I’m now convinced that good preschool and elementary school teachers are underpaid superheroes in cardigans. I’ve also realized how much I took for granted over the summer. It turns out that between the small class size and the dedicated personalities of those ballplayers and the effectiveness of the discipline available to me, my teaching situation at the Mets Academy was close to ideal. Here, the class sizes are so large and the kids are so tiny and, well, wiggly, that more of my time and energy is spent keeping children in their seats and objects out of their mouths than getting English into their brains. If any readers have tips or tricks on classroom management with small children, I would love to hear them, because it’s something I am still learning!
I spend most of my internship days in the Infantil (preschool) building with ages four and five. I also spend one hour per week with each of the three classes of second-graders over in the Primaria (elementary school) building. The last type of class that I teach is called “extracurricular,”which take place right after lunch. These are groups of 9-12 students. Two of these classes are five-year-olds, one is second-graders, and one is third-graders. Despite the smaller class size, these are the groups I find the most challenging.
Like with any job, there are pros and cons to my new life as an auxiliar de ingles. The downsides include everyday technology issues, occasional confusion from administrative decisions, and the fact that I’m not really in the kind of teaching position I was hoping to have or am interested in holding in the future. The upsides are that most of my coworkers are fantastic, I get free coffee and lunch, and adorable children give me lots of hugs. (And germs. Add that to the list of cons.) It’s tiring, but rewarding, and I’m learning a lot. My impression now is already different from my first couple of days, so I’m curious to see how my feelings continue to evolve over the coming months.
In other news, I went hiking again this past weekend, so I’ll post pictures soon!