Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Badger Blogging Blitz: Day 3

A few weeks ago I saw on a LinkedIn group that some UW-Madison alumni would be blogging every day for a week about their lives as English teachers in South Korea.  It was called "Badger Blogging Blitz."  This week I'm doing the same, but blogging about my days as an auxiliar de conversación in Madrid. 

8:32 - I wake up (before my alarm), again feeling terrible.  Consider going to the doctor today.  I sleep a bit more.

9:52 - I get out of bed, feeling alright, but the throat kills.  Don't really want to go to the doctor because the last time I went I had to wait over and hour and a half until I was seen.  What a waste of time.

10:14 - I throw in a load of laundry and make a cup of tea.

10:54 - I'm out the door and head to my bus stop.  I only take the bus a few blocks and get off three stops early, then walk to the post office to mail some letters before class.

On my way into the post office (correos)

11:40 - Bell rings, recreo has ended.  I'm sitting out in the hall with the students, waiting for the teacher.

11:42 - English teacher comes and opens the classroom.  She counts the students and tells half of them to go with me to the other classroom.  Then she shows me in her book what she wants me to do with them.  Normally I do the speaking activities with them from each unit, but today she wanted us both to start the next unit on simple past tense, regular verbs (liked, called, lived, etc.).  So I taught the parts she asked me to.

I don't have a copy of the book, and I don't find out what we're doing in class until the teacher tells me after she takes attendance.  I adjusted to this at some point in the fall, but coming from a place where you've got a detailed syllabus for every class (that tells you what you'll do every day of the semester, when homework is due, when exams are, etc.), an adjustment definitely needed to be made.  At least the material isn't too difficult, so I can easily "wing it" every class.  It would be nice to have a head's up though.  Or my own copy of the book, so I don't have to look over students' shoulders when I'm teaching them.

12:30 - Bell rings, class is over.  I stop at the grocery store near my house on the way home to pick up a few items to fight my cold: juice, lemons, my ramen-like noodles.  Bananas for my tournament this weekend.

13:25 - I remember that I'd put laundry in the washer this morning.  I hang my clothes out on the line as I heat up some water to make those noodles.  Eat lunch, have tea, read blogs, chat with Hannah, study French.

14:55 - Leave to head back for my afternoon class.  This week and next week the afternoon English teacher at my Tues/Weds school will be gone due to her mother's hip replacement, then later medical tests of her own.  So she's written a couple pages of activities that the students need to complete while she's away.  She told me to pass out a sheet (if anyone came) for students to sign in on.  Since she's gone for two weeks, she's asked the other auxiliar and I to prepare certain materials for her.  So I kept working on those at the computer in the front of the room while the students (in the end there were five) texted worked on what they were supposed to.

16:34 - While at the bus stop waiting to go back home, the old man waiting with me started telling me about two of his grandchildren.  One is studying English, and the other is living somewhere in the UK.  He also told me that for about 30 years he was a bus driver here in Madrid.  Have I mentioned yet that I love taking my neighborhood's bus?

16:55 - When I got home, I had another cup of tea and an orange.  I finished my first lecture in a class I'm taking on MIT's OpenCourseWare (Intro to Computer Science and Programming).

16:05 - I tried to nap in the hour I had before I'd need to get ready for frisbee.  Since tonight are semifinals of our spring league, I went.  I really wasn't feeling well though, and probably would have stayed home had it been a regular practice.

19:29 - I leave the house, a bit later than I usually do for frisbee.

20:22 - I arrive at frisbee.  There is a carnival setting up on the dirt fields where we normally practice, so we got to play on the good fields (artificial grass) today.  I'm the only girl who showed up from my team.  I kind of suspected this would happen, which is mainly why I went.  Luckily two girls from other teams took turns playing with me throughout the game.  In the end, we won! Maybe the score was 8-6? So we'll be playing in the finals.  I stayed and watched the second game, then we all went to the bar afterwards.

Forgot to bring my camera to semifinals, but luckily Maximilian has got a smart phone so he took pictures for me!

12:29 - I get home. I heat up some soup, eat it, then go straight to bed.

Questions - Day 3

1. Which student has had the most impact on you and why? 
If this question applies to all students, then probably my two thirteen-year-olds that I give private lessons to twice a week.  This is probably because I know them the best.  I see them more often than any of my other students, and we talk with each other for a full hour.  These girls also have a higher level of English than many of my school students (even though the girls' level is low-intermediate), so they can tell me more about their lives. And they do.  More than once, one of the girls will precede a story with, "But Rebecca, you have to promise not to tell my mom.  Promise?  You can't tell anyone."  So, since I've seen these girls twice a week for a whole school year (which is more often than I've seen many friends), they've had the most impact on me.

2. Do you think you are making an impact on the students' English ability?
Well, er, umm - yes.  I think my presence in both of my schools this year has had a positive impact on the students' English ability, but not necessarily a big impact.  In fact, I don't think I made a notable difference at all on the students' English ability.  I hope they've at least learned something from my presentations about various aspects of Wisconsin/U.S. culture.  I think the beginning of the year was a bit frustrating for me because I knew I could have made a bigger impact on the students' English, had the teachers used me differently, or had the structure of classes been different.

If I were answering this question about my private students, the answer would be a definite yes.  I see each of my private students minimally once a week for an hour, and I have seen their progression throughout the year.  I plan each lesson based on my observations of what each individual student needs to work on, so yes I'm making an impact on their English ability.

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