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Christmas Pageant

24 Dec

Yesterday was the last day of school and all the kids had to do was prepare for and perform their Christmas pageant. The other assistants and I had no part in this because it was entirely in Spanish, but we still went to “work” to see it. Every grade participated, from preschool to sixth. You might be thinking that’s a lot of kids just to sing a few Christmas carols and tell the story of the birth of Jesus BUT that’s not all a Christmas pageant is in Spain. Here (or in Mazanares, at least), the story of Christmas starts with Creation and covers all of the main accounts and people of the Old Testament up until the birth of Jesus. It was awesome, a little chaotic and adorable! Here are some pictures I managed to take before my camera died.

3 and 4-year-olds in animal costumes, too cute!

Fourth grade Egyptians. They performed the story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors.

Third grade sheep and shepherds.

First graders performing Adam and Eve, they were precious!

Second grade performing Noah's Arc.

Mary, Joseph, shepherds and baby Jesus. Merry Christmas!




12 Nov

Shh-ing is not ever very effective and definitely is NOT a form of discipline. At my school in Manzanares, though, it is the first and sometimes only attempt at gaining any type of control over the classroom. (Treats of copying or taking away 5 minutes of recess come in second and a stern talking to in Spanish a close third.)

Don’t get me wrong. These kids are super cute and it is very hard to learn another language, I DEFINITELY understand that. I like working with them, especially when I get to work the kids in small groups or one-on-one. I also remember when I was in third and fourth grade and I was NOT able to talk constantly, play with toys or paper planes or be constantly out of my seat like these kids are.

Sometimes I just move off to the side and stare in awe…or stare into space and try to ignore the chaos. For example, there may be a group of kids up front giving a science presentation. At the same time, there will also be a group of kids having a whistling contest, a table of kids fighting with each other, at least two kids still clapping for the last group that presented because each of them want to have the last clap, the teacher shhh-ing and grading simultaneously, a few kids actually paying attention and the rest of them drawing or cutting paper or playing with silly bands or cards. This is exactly what transpired in one of my classes on Thursday.

Last week there was a very similar scene in another class, except one little girl took it one step further by cutting her own fingers and hair with her scissors. (This is the same little girl that has been acting like a cat for about three weeks now, HA!)

One of the teachers at my school explained to another assistant that they aren’t as hard on the kids like we are in the U.S. The kids in Spain (or rather at this specific school in Manzanares) are given more leeway because when they’re older they will naturally behave better and be more studious. Hmmm. I’m not sure I agree with that logic.

Sometimes you just have to laugh…or bang your head against the wall, lol.



25 Oct

Halloween is this weekend and the celebration has already started at my school. From elementary to high school I went to private Christian schools, so Halloween was very minimal if really addressed at all. At my school in Mazanares, though, it’s a pretty big deal. The teachers there have been mentioning Halloween to the other assistants and I since almost day one and it looks like the holiday is going to take up about 80% of the week. That is totally fine with me if the rest of the week is like today! In my first period, we started watching The Nightmare Before Christmas, which is definitely one of my favorite childhood movies (and it was even in English!).  Then, another assistant and I brainstormed more crafts and decorations for the week during second period. On Monday I’, always free third period, so I checked my e-mail. Fourth period I hung decorations and he two periods after lunch I did prep work for tomorrow’s crafts. Pretty sweet day! If the rest of the week keeps up like this AND I get to go party in Salamanca AND come back to Madrid for the Halloween parties then it’s going to be a great week!

Fun fact: Halloween is a very new holiday in Spain, maybe a decade or two. November first, though, is All Saints Day and has been celebrated here for ages with family and a feast similar to our Thanksgiving.


What a Week!

22 Oct

Yesterday morning at about 7:30 a.m. I was sitting in a cafe near Plaza de Castilla, one of maybe two or three cafes open at that early, having coffee and a croissant. I had missed the 7:25 a.m. bus by mere minutes for the second time this week and was completely exhausted BUT couldn’t have been happier to be dipping my croissant into my cafe con leche and listening to “Man, I feel Like a Woman” in the middle of Madrid. This moment- failing at the metro system, or the metro system failing me, drinking lots of coffee, running late, or just running around, and being tired- pretty much sums up my whole week. This was my first week of full work and I couldn’t be happier to have Fridays off and to be doing absolutely nothing right now. Waking up at 6 a.m., commuting, teaching private classes 1-2 hours after work and getting home at 9 p.m.  M-Th…I don’t know how real teachers do it! Luckily, I always have at least a 3-day weekend.

This week definitely had it’s interesting parts, so here are some of the highlights:

  • Dear man on the metro smoking a joint, why are you trying to hide what you’re doing by “discretely” relighting your joint under your seat after every hit? We all see you doing it, smell it and are probably getting a contact high from the smoke that is quickly filling this very small space. After two stops I had to get off and move to a different car.
  • In fourth grade English, the kids are learning about different jobs. Teacher: “What jobs do you know?” Kid: “Singer!” Teacher: “Good, do you know any famous singers?” Multiple Kids: “Micheal Jackson!!!!” Que impromptu dance party.
  • Dear RyanAir, your flights are super cheap, but charging 20 euro to use a Visa, Mastercard or American Express to pay for the flight is not. Am I missing something here?! Everyone raved about cheap flights around Europe!


More Cute Kids

6 Oct

I addition to teaching at my school, I am giving private lessons in English to make some extra money. I had my first private class yesterday (Tuesday) with a boy I refer to as “my 12-year-old crush”. I hope my kids (whenever I have any, of course) are like this little boy. He is adorable, super smart and plays 4 sports and the piano. Our first lesson was good, which is a relief since I have never really tutored anyone for anything and had no idea what I was doing. I have two little girls to tutor today and I am sure they will be just as adorable and easy (at least I hope so!).

Working at the school is still fun. I am already starting to choose favorites between my classes but still don’t know any of the students’ names. I was told not to worry about that, though, and that by the end of the week I will have the names of the bad kids memorized, ha.

I get a kick out of what a lot of the kids say. For example, a 3rd-grade boy told me his favorite animal is the hamster. I thought that was a very original answer. Other things are more shocking. For example, yesterday a 4th-grade girl was wearing a sweater that read, in English, “F.B.I Fabulous Body Inside” and jeans with cursive writing on the rear. Today, another 4th-grade girl proudly showed me a picture she drew that read “Playboy” and had the playboy bunny drawn below it so well that I think she had to have used a stencil. The only response I could get out was “Oh, cool! You drew that?” Crazy kids.


Recreation of the sweater. To give the girl and her parents the benefit of the doubt maybe they didn't translate it.

Recreation of one girl's drawing sans all of the glitter. No idea how she knows about Playboy.

My Actual First Day Teaching

4 Oct

Today was my first full day at school with an actual schedule (yay!). I opted for the 8 a.m. bus that gets me there 15 minutes late rather than the 7:25 a.m. bus that gets me there 30 minutes early since I wasn’t sure whether or not they would know what to do with me today. Did I mention that it’s necessary to allow an hour and a half for my commute? (If you calculate that I am waking up WAY early!) Technically, it shouldn’t take an hour an a half, but today was the perfect example of why it sometimes might. First, the metro. I love the metro system here, like I said before it is super clean and easy to navigate. However, the subways also stops and waits in between stations…a lot…especially in the morning. Like most other things in Spain, the metro is laid back and not usually in a hurry. Second, the bus. It’s a least 5 minutes late, always. It also hasn’t once taken the same route to or from Manzanares since I’ve been working. Sometimes it takes 45 minutes. Other times it takes 1 hour 15 minutes. At least I have plenty of time to nap!

Anyway, work was great! Even though the day is kind of long (9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Wednesdays when I get to leave early), it doesn’t feel that way. Classes are only 45 minutes so they fly by. Then there is a 30 minute morning break during recess and a 2 hour lunch, so there is plenty of time to relax and prepare. I will be assisting in English and Science classes and get to work with mostly 4th graders, which are my favorite! All of the kids are nice, even the ones that refuse to learn, ha. The teachers are great, too, and seem like they will be fun and easy to work with. The best part, though, is having Fridays off every week 🙂

The highlight of my day was when a two 3rd grade girls called me a hippie because I was wearing my favorite gold peace-sign earrings! LOL.



1 Oct

Today was my first “official” day working at my school, and it was pretty much exactly like when I visited yesterday. There was no predetermined schedule for me, I mostly observed and left early. Things definitely take longer to get done here (and less efficiently at that) than in the states, and the same goes for my work schedule. I did get to participate in three classes instead of just one, though. My first two classes were with second grade and my last was with fourth grade. The kids at the school are awesome and super cute. They love to ask me questions, hug, kiss on the cheek, touch my hair or comment on how tall I am, ha. (One class apparently asked the teacher whether or not I had heels on after I left the room, lol!) The fourth graders were the same group of kids I observed yesterday and they remembered me, which is exciting 🙂 I hope I get to work with them permanently. I think I may prefer the older kids.

Since there’s no super exciting news about my first day of work, I thought I would introduce y’all to some of the friends I’ve made here. They are all such good people, so helpful and so fun! I have always been blessed with amazing friends and my friends in Madrid are no exception.


My friend Siury (DR/NYC) and I walking around the city.

From Left: me, Katie (NYC), Juani (TX) and Jetta (PN) meeting for drinks.