I think I can now say that I am settled into my work placement in a small primary school in the island of La Palma. It is a really cute little school, with classes of between 4 and 22 pupils in each year group. Some of the year groups are joined into one class. I remember in my primary school where there were always at least two classes of 30 pupils in each year group, so it’s very different from what I’ve experienced before. Although the school is small, it still has its dramatic moments such as
- a three year old who came to school without being potty trained
- fights on the playground between the older students
- Mothers of students who complain about bullying and victimisation.
I am working as a classroom assistant in both English and P.E lessons, working twenty six 45 minute sessions a week. The mixture is really good and I enjoy moving between the English classroom and the playground, where I referee football matches and do extra long warm ups that the kids despise. The students seem to enjoy it when I join in with them in P.E and are not impressed if I don’t bring my trainers to school.
We told quite a big white lie to the students and parents when I arrived…that I was an English student who didn’t know any Spanish. I always speak with the children in English, even if they don’t understand or look at me in a confused what is she on about? way it is important that that they get full English exposure. I can already see the improvement of the confidence of the children. Even the younger students between 3 and 5 years old know that when they see me they have to say Hello instead of Hola. I go to breakfast with the 3/4 year olds twice a week and if they cannot open their straw, I make them say please and thank you before giving it back to them. Some people may say this method is cruel, but it is a brilliant way to learn and I can see the progress already, despite only being here a few weeks.
Some of the older students are “teaching” me Spanish, little by little which is really cute as they think of words to teach me, so far they have taught me
- The numbers 1 to 20
- Cat, dog, family
- Parts of the face
- Hello, goodbye, thank you.
They say to me
Leona, one in Espanish uno…di uno
and I repeat what they say to me. It is really cute of them to want to help me learn as I am helping them, but little do they know that I learnt how to count in Spanish when I was 11!
Old habits die hard and as I worked as a proof reader I am always correcting the children’s spelling, since they are unable to copy from the board. The most common mistake is changing the English Y to a Spanish I, so when I see alwais, Thursdai, Plai I recoil in anguish and am relentless with them. I take a rubber to their work and make them write it again properly. Other mistakes include missing the all important U in favourite and writing proper nouns without capital letters.
Overall I enjoy being in a school and helping the students and the staff with English. Although I don’t think I want to be a teacher in the future, it is a good experience and I enjoy working with children as they have so much energy and imagination. Each week I see progress and I am very happy to be in this welcoming school that has treated me so kindly.