School’s Out—A Reflection on a Year in a Madrid High School

School’s out for the summer. Weren’t those the sweetest words when you were a kid? Summer meant possibilities, everything open and waiting for you: swimming pools, summer camps, driver’s ed, athletic conditioning (wait, was that just my school?), endless days when all you did was eat popsicles and jump in the sprinkler. Ah, summer. It’s too bad that summer, at least the idea of it as a three-month-long break, had to end—for most.

For teachers, there’s still Summer with a capital s. Teachers may not see summer the way kids do—they’ve got responsibilities and bills to pay. But summer is still there, and the idea of summer motivates us from February to June. School’s finally out here in Madrid. Most of the exams are finished; most final grades are being handed out as I type this. Camps start next week here in Spain. Done! Finished! Terminado! 

This school year was a fun one for me. After having lived through a rather unpleasant experience last year (and that’s putting it rather mildly), I came into this year with low expectations. But my low expectations were met by great teachers. Teachers who cared, teachers who worked with me rather than against me, and teachers who spoke English well. (Weird, isn’t it, seeing as they’re English teachers?) We had a great year together, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have worked in one of  Madrid’s most historic educational centers, where the alumni have names like Lopa de Vega, Calderón de la Barca, and even Juan Carlos I. The classrooms were old, certainly, but for the most part my classes were conversational in nature, and we worked with what we had.

Teenagers are teenagers everywhere, though, so of course my efforts to speak English were met with some resistence. Nonetheless, at the end of the day (year), I can say that I left with them knowing more English, with them having a better perspective on my home country than they started with. A simple goal, yes. But a goal achieved is a goal achieved.

They say that the auxiliares de conversación program is the luck of the draw, and I’ll have to agree. After two years at different schools with not-so-pleasant results, this year it was my turn to finally work with great coworkers, even if I also had to put up with the sometimes surly attitudes of teenagers. I did a lot of fun activities, spoke mostly in English, and felt fulfilled. You can’t really ask for better.

11 thoughts on “School’s Out—A Reflection on a Year in a Madrid High School

  1. Sounds fascinating! Glad you had a better year. You’re absolutely right about teenagers. My Spanish students would give blank spares when I spoke Spanish in *gasp* Spanish class.

  2. Congrats! I agree having a great working environment makes all the difference. Enjoy your summer and the first week of sleeping in. :)

  3. Glad to hear you ended up having a positive experience as an auxiliar ^_^ And you’re totally right that how things turn out in this program is completely up to luck/chance/fate/the hand of God, which is part of the reason why I’m staying at my same school in rural Galicia next year.

    What are your plans for the fall? I know you have said you + Mario are planning to move to the States by the end of the year.

    1. I’m not sure exactly, because this process is so frustratingly long and we’re never sure when we’ll be able to move on to the next step! But I hope to be in the US by the end of the year, yes!

  4. Hola Kaley:
    Muchas gracias por tu blog, ante todo. Llegué a él buscando información sobre los colegios bilingües de Madrid. En tus entradas, me confirmas bastante lo que me temía, sobre todo con respecto al nivel de los profes. Mi hija, como tus futuros hijos, es bilingüe, de padre escocés, y vivo en un mar de dudas… te importaría que te mandara un email privado para formularte algunas?

    Es el cervantes el instituto en que trabajaste? No queda lejos de mi casa. Me alegra saber que no es mala opción.

    Muchas gracias de nuevo.

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