Spain and (a lack of) Discipline

I love my job. I really do. Even when it’s a pain  to plan lessons that teachers won’t let you give and you waste an afternoon looking for an internet cafe that’s actually open, I look forward to taking the bus in the morning with the students and arriving to class late (as the buses, like everything here, are quite unreliable) and getting poked in the hallway so students can say, “Hello, CAT!” to me. It’s fantastic. Really, really fantastic.But things in Spain are so different. Yesterday, in IBach, which is like junior year of high school age-wise, we talked about the students’ favorite subject. Naturally, none of the students liked English best, but when I asked them why (an ESL’s teachers favorite question), they said they have no choice – they have to take it. They could care less, which makes me feel like I’ve been failing IES Heliche because I can’t finish lessons. I spend a lot of my time going over directions several times or waiting for replies. I’ve resorted to using the attendance sheet to just call on people so I don’t stand up front looking like an idiot all the time. Most of the time I can’t understand them due to the echo anyway, but I think they probably make fun of me a lot, too.Today, no one bothered to inform me that the 4ºESO, aka the only level I teach today, has some kind of field trip to Sevilla to see a museum or a play or whatever. So, in my first class, half the alumnosgot up and left. And the teacher didn’t tell me until afterward that they had some activity planned. Apparently half the teachers didn’t know the activities department had been planning this trip for 4ºESO kids with good behavior (though I think walking out on a teacher while she’s in the middle of a lesson is NOT good behavior and rather rude). I had another class later with no students, so Angela took me along to her 2ºESO class. I hadn’t prepared anything, but she wanted me to teach them requests. Ok, fine, but I need some kind of prompt or at least a three-minute review of what I have to do. I may have a journalism degree, but I know NOTHING about grammar. At least not how to introduce it. I know Spanish grammar rules because they were actually taught to me, whereas English I just…learned. But it was impossible for me to teach anyway because the kids in the class are like monkeys. I tried to teach them a sign that would tell them to be quiet, and they loved it. The first time. After that, it was hopeless. Kids were fighting and hitting and calling each other names and walking out of class, and Angela didn’t do anything. I don’t think that she’s necessarily apathetic, but she knows it’s a cultural thing. In Spain, children are revered and thus able to do anything they want. Angela has been called out several times for raising her voice in class to calm the kids down, but this is outside the teacher’s code she says. Rosario, a girl who should really be in 4ºESO but hasn’t passed her classes two years in a row, came up to the chalkboard and banged the hard, wooden side of the erased against the board several times. The noise was obnoxious, but it shut the kids up for a while. It was then that I heard at least the same noise in at least one more classroom. I’m not the only one with this problem. Stupid hormonal 14 year olds.Thank goodness for Halloween lessons next week and a long weekend (aka IRELAND!!!!)

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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.

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