”If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” – Maya Angelou
Do me a favor and hug the next teacher you see because this profession is not for the faint-hearted. As a teaching assistant in a primary school I have learned this firsthand. I’ve struggled with maintaining my motivation. I’ve struggled with being creative as the curriculum is planned out for me 95% of the time. The majority of my students complete activities out of structured workbooks with various themes such as school supplies, familial connections and places in the city. They also listen to corny, yet effective, English songs that help them remember how to cross the street, the different rooms in a school, food, etc. When I envisioned teaching English in Spain, this is not exactly what I had in mind. Yet, it has become a daily routine that I love…most of the time because let’s be real every job has its bad days.
I had to face reality: my students are under the age of 12 and still in the early stages of bilingual education in a non-touristy area of Spain. Learning English is a newer concept in Logroño and my school that is no more that 6 or 8 years old. The topics I thought I would cover when I applied for teaching in Madrid with high school students had to be thrown out the window. Plus, the transition coming from a university setting where we drank wine and discussed institutionalized racism to teaching kids Jolly Phonics was more difficult than I imagined. I felt like I was failing my students when really I had to adjust my teaching style and content for the population I’m living in. I needed to focus less on what I expected to be doing and focus more on what my students needed me to do. That simple change has made a big difference with the rapport between myself and students, as well as teachers. Of course, Ms. Angelou said it best.