Monday, October 1, 2012

Planet of the [Toddler] Apes

Time is absolutely flying by! I can hardly believe today is the first day of October. I'm so used to noticing the change of the seasons by the colors of the trees and that crispy cool walk across the Bridge to class that it's hard to grasp that Fall is here.  The weather here is a little like home -- in the fact that one minute I'm huddling inside a warm jacket and the next I'm sweating so much I'm practically a stripper as I walk down the street.
So I have conquered the first week and a half in my school, and it is definitely safe to say that other than teachers and students, there's not a whole lot the same about La Inmaculada (the name of the school I'm working in) and the schools I grew up in.  Today was the first day of the "full schedule". Hey Scottie Walker, are you listening? I have a wonderful budget cut idea for you for that "expensive" little gnat buzzing around your head (AKA the thing the rest of us call education).  The schools here started on September 10th(ish) and the first 3 weeks of school are on "summer schedule" which basically means they start at 9am and the day ends at 1:30, just in time for lunch.  In other words, it is just incredibly silly to expect anyone to complete a full day of school coming right off of summer vacation. Genius?!
Maybe it's the uptight, schedule-obsessed American in me, but from what I saw in a week and a half, it's basically a waste of time the first 3 weeks of school.  But it also seems like Spaniards need a little more time than us Americans to get organized and on track.

Speaking of getting organized...
I am still waiting for a complete and accurate schedule of the classes I'm supposed to help with.  It's been a chaotic mess.  It seems like no one really wants to take the responsibility to organize the 3 Language Assistants (me and 2 others) and no one communicates with each other, just complains that things are unorganized.
I also spent the first 7 days like a lost little lamb in my school. My first day, I met the director of the school, Carmen Jesus (a nun), who asked me some awkward interview-like questions about who I am and then dropped me off in a classroom with one of the English teachers.  From there it was a giant question mark.  I didn't know where any classrooms were, who to talk to about what, and I wasn't introduced to any of the other faculty, and actually if it wasn't for the fact that the students have to wear uniforms I almost wouldn't know if a few of the other teachers were part of the high school classes or not.  There is no dress code.  Basically it's casual Friday everyday, only not even as dressy as that.  And forget about trying to figure out who the gym teacher is since so many people wear track suits.
I have been going to 2 classes pretty consistently: Infantil, which is Preschool ages 3-5, and one of the high school English classes.  The preschool is interesting.  I've been in all three classes, 3, 4 and 5 year olds, and they are all doing the same thing.  Repeating the types of weather and seasons, the days of the week, and vocabulary of the classroom (pencil, chair, table, and schoolbag).  Here's a link to "The Weather Song" that we've been singing everyday:

The 4 and 5 year olds are a little more attentive to what they're repeating, but the 3 year olds are just parrots.  They repeat everything the teacher says, even in Spanish.  Today she dropped something and made a noise to herself like "Ohohohh!" and it was like a wave through the classroom starting with the kiddie closest to her mimicking the sound until the whole room was filled with "OhOhOHHH!".  They haven't quite figured out what "Kate" means yet either since when she says "Who is Kate??" they all repeat "HOOESKAE".  And the recess. Ohh my the recess.  In the classroom they are fairly calm. Obviously they have the attention span of a fish and spend most of the time gaping at me trying to figure out who this strange new person is speaking in this weird language in this odd accent ("PERO quien es ESA!?" 'But who is SHE!?")... but when it comes time for recess they go absolutely insane.  The first day I experienced it I wasn't sure what I was witnessing. The play yard is pretty small, but there is a fake grass area for "soccer" (or rolling around on the ground which is what I've mostly seen), a slide and monkey bars set in sand, and then cement all closed in by a metal gate.  The minute they exited the classroom half of them ran for the gate, started climbing up, screaming and shaking the bars like they were a bunch of monkeys that had just escaped the lab.  Others climbed onto the windows outside the classroom and started banging on the glass.  Basically like a scene from Rise of the Planet of the Apes...the one where James Franco plays the hot monkey scientist.  I'm like the female James Franco in this school of Monkey Children... minus the genius part and the dashing good looks

I'm enjoying the high school class for the most part because I can joke around with them and have actual conversations, even though today they were so awful and I was reminded that they are a bunch of immature teenagers.
Overall I really like being at the school and getting to know the teachers and all the kids at all the grade levels. I think once things FINALLY get organized and I am consistently with the same teachers and the same kids, it can only get even better.  Who knew I would enjoy the classroom?  Scary. 
Next I'll have to update everyone on my first protest experience over the weekend (Me, at a protest? Never!) as well as my new reality show obsession 'Quien Quiere Casarse con Mi Hijo?' 'Who Wants To Marry My Son?' which is the most perfect combination of The Bachelor and that stupid MTV 20 minute long scripted show Date My Son or Date My Daughter or whatever it was where the parents comment on everything.  It's so terrible, but so hilarious.  I'll be sure to let you all know who gets kicked off next week!

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