End of the school year at IES Heliche

Things are starting to wind down at school. I can tell by the attitudes of my students and coworkers, as well as my own motivations in planning lessons. In a swirl of final exams, excursions and kids getting really tired and lazy, the last month has passed so quickly. I can’t believe how fast eight months at I.E.S. Heliche have gone by! I remember my first day, standing in front of 30 or so high schoolers, not having a clue about teaching or even a good handle on English grammar and not having a clue what to expect. I may not have gotten these kids to speak English like pros or even really like the class, but I’ve established a lot of really good relationships. I’m constantly being asked for my messenger form students, meaning I had to sign up for yet another email address! They take pictures with me on their mobile phones and remind me not to smile. Teachers know a little bit too much about my personal life. I’ve learned that I can’t get them to study or sometimes even pay attention in class, but what’s more important is the exposure they’re getting to English and to an American. And, being the youngest of the three assistants, I think I’ve been able to bond with them and make them feel more comfortable. As irritating as they sometimes are, I’m going to miss them, and I can hardly believe that I’ve only got four more days left of teaching till next year. (due to a strike tomorrow and a puente weekend for Corpus Christi).

Last week, I worked an extra day to help Martin, the 41-year old Dutch assistant, conduct his final exams. Rather than taking a written test, students worked on dialogues with Martin every week in preparation for a real-life test. I have to say, I was really impressed with his work and all of the preparation. He created backdrops of a hotel, tourism office, store and restaurant and loaded them with props and plants (my school has gardening classes. strange, i know). He also painted a British telephone cabin, made from two large boxes! When the kids arrived to “customs” they were no longer allowed to speak Spanish to answer questions about their name, age, birthday and nationality for their passports. Each passport stamp was given at each station, so long as they finished tasks. There were about 90 students involved. The ESO kids were really nervous – one little boy just pointed at things and I tried to elicit information from him. It was really hard for him. Others, like my most favorite student Vasco, could carry on a conversation. He invited me to be his date for lunch at the restaurant, then told me he didn’t have his wallet and had invited his two other girlfriends! It was a really long day, especially after working all week, but the kids were really excited to see English used in a real context. Kids in the Communications class videotaped for the website, Nieves’ friends traveled from other schools in the area to see the village, and all of my students were jealous. Martin treated us to a fantastic lunch, cooked by the woman who makes us coffee and snacks in the cantina. I ate a lot and met other assistants who came to help. I was originally supposed to sit by the headmistress, but Nieves switched spots with me, knowing how much Carmen scares me!! I arrived home exhausted and in a food coma, but the village was so much fun and a big success. A huge congratulations to Martin, who will make a wonderful English teacher back in Holland.

So what about next year? Ive already told my students they have to stay another year so they can see me, and given my email address to a lot of the older kids. Next year, my school will begin as a bilingual school. From what I can tell, this means one class will be taking music, art and geography classes once a week in English for more exposure. Since I already have a relationship with these teachers (Emilio, Felisabel and Carmen Moreno, who is like my therapist here!), I’ll be assisting in those classes, plus planning. This means I’ll be in just a few English classes, but I think I’ll enjoy my new role a lot. Many of the teachers who have a fixed position in the school have told me they’re happy to have me back, except for maybe Emilio from Consejería, who I try to run away from because we’ve just got that kind of relationship. Next year, I’ll be more prepared and know what to expect. I won’t get off the bus at the other side of town and have to rely on a stranger for a ride, either!

So, now, I’ve got a long weekend in the Canary Islands with Kike to enjoy, then one more week of teaching. 12 classes, one field trip and a whole lot of pictures. Below are a few of my kiddies and coworkers:

above: 1E and Isidoro, the adorable little guy in the glasses who chases me down the hall

Vasco, my absolute favorite kid in the whole wide world. I told him to stay in school.

4A, a class full of really silly kids who always ask me about my dog and about my boyfriend.

above and below: 2E and 2G. Lazy kids. I made one of the girls in the picture below cry.

iBachD. My absolute favorites. The girls above are all dolls, and I love teaching with Valle (in the blue shirt below). I get sad when I can’t go to class.

IIBachA, the smarties who have really imaginative minds.
Below is 2C, a noisy group that does a lot of speaking in English.

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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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