I walk to school at 10:15 which gives me not-enough-time-to-arrive-on-time. But hey, Spain. So I arrive at 10:34 almost everyday and should be there at 10:30. If I get there on time I am usually the first person in the classroom so it’s better for everyone for me to give them 5 minutes to get to our class.
I guess if you want to criticize this after 180 days of arriving 4 minutes late everyday I will have stolen 1 hour of time from the school.
When I arrive I have to get buzzed into school. We obviously don’t have keys or key cards so I have to ring a doorbell and the secretary, head of students, principal, or some random bystander will let me in.
I head through the head teacher’s office and outside to the little’s building. Upstairs is my first class –
2nd grade English
Because it’s awful cold lately all the doors are closed. They lock automatically so I have to knock to be let in. Saffa is my buddy and only Saffa can open the door (according to Saffa). Somehow a ritual was created months ago that we have to fist bump (like a cleaner high five) when I arrive. So she’ll get in my space until we fist bump. If other kids try to fist bump, well, that’s just not okay at all and only Saffa can fist bump how dare you all. The more mad Saffa gets about the fist bumping the more her peers demand bumps.
I have to use the computer from 1998 but after maybe 5 minutes I’ve logged into my account and have my presentation open. Right now we’re learning animal vocabulary. I’ve created this huge coloring/word search hybrid:
They have to find the vocabulary words and color them. They’re looking for 11 mice, 3 horses, 5 cats, etc and color them. This is like a wordsearch but is a picture search. They’ve done this before so we don’t have to explain it. They get right to work coloring.
Today is actually the final exam for the chapter. Yes, the 2nd graders have finals. All the desks are moved from each other and they get an official looking test. About half the boys make rocket ship/dog sounds with their erasers and play pretend for the duration of it.
The bell rings and it’s …
Recess/snack time -30 minutes
The Spaniards eat 5-6 times a day. The kids had breakfast before coming to school but now it’s time for almuerzo – mid-morning meal. Most of the kids bring a sandwich wrapped in aluminum foil, some bring donuts, fresh fruit, canned fruit or just a juice/milk. Lately we’ve been having the Drink Container Crisis of 2018 so no one is allowed outside with a juice or chocolate milk box. No one will tell me what happened to forbid every child from bringing drink containers outside but it must have been bad. Some teachers try to say everyone can go outside except those with a container (doesn’t work). Other teachers just force everyone to stay inside to eat (bummer). Soon though everyone is outside. Contraband drink containers are snuck out in sleeves. Sandwiches (open exposed sandwiches) are in pockets so at this point what does it matter. Your pockets are full of ham and crumbs and your sleeves are coated in chocolate milk. Whatevs, #livingtheelementarydream
Because soccer is the best thing ever they have to rotate the use of the soccer space. For example 6th graders can only play soccer on Tuesdays and Fridays. If they let everyone who wanted to play soccer do it at once it would be a thousand-man game.
I usually sit in the teacher’s room with nothing to do for the 30 minutes. It’s as exciting as it sounds. Sometimes I have to furiously make copies or fight the secretary for use of her computer to print things out. Since there is no internet or computer access (unless I kick someone off their computer) I can’t lesson plan or do anything except sit during this time.
I have this hell clown to keep me company so I’m good.
The bell rings but I have to wait at least 5 minutes before heading to my next class. The kids line up by class and march in as a class. If I head right to class I’ll be the only one there! I think you can see the theme here – always be 5 minutes late.
I have 2nd English again but with the other 2nd grade class. So I go to the little’s building and do the same lesson again. We color the sheet and then they take the test/pretend to be dogs for the rest of the time.
4A Natural Science
If I had to make a list of classes I really didn’t like I would have to say 3A and B were tied for the worst with this 4th grade class as also the worst creating a 3-way tie for the worst. They’re always crying and shouting. Two girls are always at each other’s throats with bullying and absolute chaos.
We play a game -they cry and whine. We copy notes – they cry and whine. We draw – they cry and whine. Class hasn’t even started and two kids are physically fighting over a piece of broken wood in the corner – yup, they cry and whine! We’re having a class-wide tribunal to decide who was at fault for the fight of the broken wood in the corner – that’s gonna be crying and whining!
I get about a hundred hugs on my way in. These kids are affectionate but crazy. I make it through the hug gauntlet to the computer and sign in. We’re doing the respiratory system so they have to copy vocabulary. Que crying and whining.
This is 4th grade – we could make lung diagrams, drawings or create lungs with balloons and soda bottles. But no. We copy vocabulary and lecture like college. So we have to wait 5 minutes for kids to locate their notebooks and open them to a blank page.
Some of the more anal teachers require the kids to copy in certain colors or pencil vs. ink. I could really give a crap what color or utensil they use but that doesn’t stop them from asking my coteacher about seventy times “pencil or pen? In blue or red!?” She shouts “Just copy the words!” as an answer. But in 30 minutes a girl has copied in red and everyone is tattling on her. So the coteacher teases her for using red. Seriously? Red? (She said it didn’t matter but I guess it does matter). The girl crosses her notes out and bursts into tears. This is basically how every one of these classes goes. I’m not exaggerating
I try to explain the respiratory system but they don’t care. The coteacher won’t help so soon I’m just talking over them. Blissfully this ends but I have the same coteacher next period for 3rd grade natural/social science.
3A Natural/Social Science
This is her homeroom so she has an idea of control over them but not an actual manifestation of control. Just the idea of it.
This is one of those classes in the 3-way tie for the worst.
We fight them over copying notes again – the students are asking what to use (pencil or pen!) and her shouting to just copy it. It’s the same as 4th grade. I explain things with funny pictures and gifs but they understand nothing. Sometimes I just do something vaguely related to the lesson. Like we were learning about skin so I had them do a fingerprint lab. We took their fingerprints with tape – this absolutely fascinated them. Another time I brought leaves in and just had them color the leaves (like when you put leaves under the paper then color so it appears through the paper) again, they had never done something like this and were utterly fascinated.
For “science” we never do any experiments or labs. Volcanoes involved memorizing the parts of the volcano. There were no baking soda and vinegar explosions. A unit on plants didn’t involve any live plants- just rote memorization and labeling. Even weather units where we could have done all kinds of fun experiments involved nothing. We don’t really have the budget and we don’t seem to have the time. We pack the lessons full – we have 6 big chapters to get through in one year.
So today is no different. I provide words to copy and they copy the words.
At 2 the bell rings and I dart. If I don’t get out of there as fast as I can I rub shoulders with kids all the way home. Seeing your teacher outside of school is like seeing a dog walking on two legs – so they stare, point and shout at me all the way home.