Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Institutos de Educación Secundaria: M & P

Here's a brief rundown of my understanding of Spain's public education system:
  • Educación Infantil (similar to our preschool)
    • Not required
    • Students are 3 - 5 years old
  • Educación Primaria (required, similar to our elementary school)
    • Attendance required by law
    • Students are 5 - 12 years old
    • Schools are called colegios
  • Educación Secundaria Obligatoria (required, kind of like our high school)
    • Attendance required by law
    • Students are 12 - 16 years old
    • Schools are called institutos
At this point, after completing the country's required education, students have a couple of options:
  • Bachillerato
    • Takes 2 years to complete (Usually age 16 - 18)
    • Not required, only necessary if the student wants to go on to educación universitaria when they're 18
  • Formación Profesional
    • Similar to our technical colleges
    • The type of classes they take/degree they're going for depends on whether or not they got a bachillerato after their ESO
  • Trabajar
    • Get a job, start working
Why am I telling you this?  Well, before I came here I had told some friends and family that I thought I'd be teaching in two high schools, but that I wasn't sure.  Good thing I added the uncertainty, because I was wrong.  I'm actually in two schools that fall under the formación profesional category.  So these students are studying for a very specific career - maybe electrician, secretary, nurse assistant, etc.  Here is a list of the degrees offered at IES M, and here is a list of those offered at IES P.

As I mentioned earlier, last Friday morning I went to both of my schools to figure out where I would start working on Monday.  I went to IES M first, and they gave me hours on Monday and Wednesday, telling me to report to work Monday morning.  Then I went to IES P, where I found out they only have two English classes, one on Monday and one on Thursday.  If you're split between two schools, you're not allowed to go to two different schools on the same day, so IES P called the jefe de estudios at IES M and told them they'd need to change my schedule.  IES M told the jefe de estudios at IES P over the phone that I should report to IES M on Monday at 9:30 to re-figure out my schedule, but I'd be working at IES P on Monday afternoon.

Monday morning I go to IES M and find another auxiliares participant, Kay, trying to figure out a schedule with the jefe de estudios.  After about an hour, we had determined that I wouldn't come on Monday to the previously assigned classes, but rather come for four hours on Tuesday.  The English teacher had to go start class with Kay, and said she would see me on Wednesday, not Tuesday, because she would be on strike on Tuesday.

That afternoon I went to my first class at IES P, where the English teacher (let's call her Paloma) told me she actually got her degree to be a Spanish literature teacher.  But most likely due to budget shortages and what not, since she had some English background, she also got assigned to teach English this year.  She gave me a copy of their textbook and workbook, and explained to me that many of the students had never had English before.  Also, many didn't plan on using it outside of the required English classes to graduate, so they had little motivation to learn it.  That day in class (which was mostly taught in Spanish), we watched the Simpsons Movie in English with Spanish subtitles.  Then Paloma went over a page out of the textbook with the class before letting them leave.  The students ranged in ages from 20-45.  She told me the group on Thursday morning is younger, but will be doing the same things as the other group.

Hopefully I'll be able to plan some activities and games to break up the class time and make it more fun for the students.  Making some posters to brighten up the empty white walls is an idea that has also crossed my mind.

Tuesday I didn't have class at IES M since the English teacher (we'll call her Elena) was on strike with many other teachers in Madrid.

This morning I got up, got ready, and walked to IES M for classes, yet quickly learned from Elena that there was another strike today, so we wouldn't have class.  She apologized for forgetting to let me know, since she had to leave in a rush on Monday when I last saw her.

So I haven't yet had any classes at IES M, but tomorrow morning I'm assuming I still have class at IES P with the younger group.  I wonder if we'll just watch the Simpsons Movie with them, too.

Elena asked I prepare something to share with the IES M classes about life in Wisconsin.  All I brought with me as far as materials is a map of Wisconsin, since we had little information before we got here about the age-level we'd be working with, type of things to bring.  I'm thinking visuals will be a must, since these kids know only about a week's worth of English.

I'll be able to print off pictures at the kodak picture-printing shops, and can go to a locutorio to print on regular paper, maybe a map or a picture of Bucky or something.  If anyone wants to send me a local or state newspaper, campus map, postcards, beer labels, a brochure (the Dells??), Great Dane menu, something about dairy or farms, picture of a cheesehead, anything, email me and I'll send you my address (and I'll send you a piece of mail in return!)

Also, since Halloween is right around the corner, I thought I could make something - perhaps a booklet - about Halloween traditions.  Carving pumpkins, trick-or-treating, and of course Halloween on State Street.  I'll try to get some pictures printed tomorrow to work on it this weekend.

If you have ideas about things I should share about life in Wisconsin, leave a comment!

UPDATE: One student showed up today (Thursday) at IES P, the rest were on strike.  I emailed my high school's newspaper this morning to see if I could get copies of the Sage throughout the year, we'll see what they say.  I also emailed the WI Tourism Department today -- they're going to mail me stuff!  Awesome!

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