Brandyn Justice Solano Rodriguez, Secondary’s English Auxiliar
This is my first time teaching in Spain and I absolutely love every moment that goes by. Up until now, this has been an incredible experience in which I am fortunate enough to connect with young minds and expose them to my American culture. However, this job is not always fun and games. The students are not always cooperative and I find myself walking the fine line between amicable educator and strict disciplinarian. Moreover, the cultural differences in the Spanish and American educational system are worlds apart. I have had to assimilate to alternative approaches to teaching that I was not accustomed to, but this is not to say that I am not adjusting and getting use to how things are done in a Spanish school. This challenge makes my job even more thrilling and exciting—I view my position as an auxiliar as a magnificent learning experience that everyday makes me a better teacher.
For example, I was not use to students addressing their teachers by their first names because in the United States students address their teachers by their last name (i.e. Mr. Solano, Mrs. Garcia, etc.). In addition, Spanish students are way more social than American students so trying to give a lesson is a daily struggle. I joke with my friend that trying to get American students to talk and participate is mostly the problem of teaching in the United States whereas I spend a lot of time trying to get my Spanish students to stop talking and to focus on the work. This is not to say that ALL my students are talkative and do not concentrate on English lessons—but that from my observations the Spanish culture is way more social than American culture.
An example of the emphasis on socialization is evident in how Spanish students remain with mostly the same group of children since Pre-School (Infantil). It is very unlikely that an American student remain amongst the same group of children since they were three years old. Also, Spanish students remain in the same classroom and do not move from the classroom unless it is Recess (Recreo) or unless they have an activity somewhere else in the school. On the other hand students in America move between classrooms for about six or seven times. Teachers in America remain in the classroom and have the liberty to decorate their classroom and impose their own rules in THEIR classroom.
Despite these differences I really do enjoy teaching in a different culture. Moreover, I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to work in a small and well-organized school like Colegio Madrigal. Since my first day here, I have only felt welcomed and supported both by the administration and the students. I am looking forward to my future at this school.