Baby Art

kid art Number #101 reason why I love my school: Baby Art Museum in the Gym.

The infantil classes collaborated and put together an art museum in our school gym. They introduced specific Spanish artists to the students and worked together to mimic their art styles. These sweet little babies worked their butts off and had a blast throughout it all. The outcome was incredible and they even hung up a comment wall so every visitor could leave a message, and how could you not.

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End of Year Excursion

canoeYesterday was great.
Our entire school went on a field trip to a place in Boadilla, Madrid. As soon as we arrived monitors from the camp came, put our students into small groups and took them away. The adults were brought to the country club part of the camp and had a nice breakfast and plenty of time to chat and relax. We were free to enjoy ourselves for the entire day, no kids because they would be taken care of by the camp. So a few of us decided to go for a canoe ride; I thought it would be a pleasant mosey across the pond without much problems, I wasn’t too scared of falling in so I didn’t bother to change into a bathing suit. What a terrible mistake.
The teachers attacked! It turned into a splashing battle and we were all drenched by the end of the fight. The children had a great time too on the zip line, rock wall, canoes and playing all kinds of games. By the end of the day we were all sunburnt and burned-out. It was a blast.  I’m going to really miss my school.

April Bulletin Board

semana santa 14 005 Last April we focused on our environmental responsibility; we learned about pollution, recycling and made seed bombs for Earth Day.  This year I didn’t have time to plan activities for Earth Day because it was Culture Week but I still decorated the English Board with a couple classes.

Instead of repeating the environmental awareness theme from last year, I wanted the students to focus on their roles on this Earth and know that they each play a big part.  The theme was “We’ve got the whole world in our hands.”  There are so many versions of this song nowadays, here is a different version I was thinking about teaching the younger classes.

With the pre-kindergarten class we painted our hands blue and green to make a globe, it didn’t come out super clear but the kids had fun.  The second grade class has been learning about jobs so we wrote “When I grow up I want to be…”  their answers and pictures were darling, here are a few to share.semana santa 14 008earth daysemana santa 14 010semana santa 14 006teacher

La Pedriza

Spain 004La Pedriza is an incredible place. I was lucky enough to go their twice with my school on a class trip. It is located on the Guadarrama mountains in Parque Regional de la Cuenca Alta del Manzanares and is one of the coolest granitic ranges I’ve seen so close to Madrid. There are a bunch of hiking trails and rock climbing routes within the park and if you get hot on the trail there are some wading pools to cool off in. Spain 025
It was a wonderful trip for the first group, the weather was gorgeous and we hiked more trails than we should have because by the end the kids were exhausted but we had a great time. I even enjoyed my Spanish lesson listening to all the stories that go along with different rocks or areas in the park, like La Cueva de La Mora, a Romeo and Juliet-like ghost story of love and loss. The second group didn’t have as much luck with the weather and it was a downpour but the foggy mist surrounding the huge rock formations was other worldly and we hung tough and survived the rain and mud.
La PedrizaSpain 047

To get to La Pedriza from Madrid is    only a 45 min drive. We took a charter bus but I think there are ways to get close enough with public transportation.

3rd Year Renewal Process

I decided to renew my place in the program for a 3rd year as a back-up plan. Since this is my second year in Madrid that means I can’t renew in the same autonomous community. So this year I applied to be placed in the Balearic Islands.

Documents you need:

-Letter of Motivation. This is your letter of intent explaining why you think you’re school/ the program should renew your position in the Auxiliares de Conversacion Program.
-Informe Del Centro. This is a form you need to print out. The director of your school needs to fill this form out, it serves as your letter of recommendation.
After you have these documents you can start the renewal process on Profex. This year they didn’t ask us to fill out a Solicitude De Prorroga so don’t kill yourself trying to find this form.
After you finish, print out the final page or Solicitud de la aplicacion Profex o del British Council with all your info data (make copies for yourself) and hand all these documents in to your director if you are applying to the same school . Make sure you have signed everything. Then your director will send it to the appropriate address.

But if you are renewing for a 3rd year and switching to a new autonomous community then you must send the paperwork yourself.

Here is the Address I used for 2014:
– A la atención de Itziar Alberdi (for Auxiliares from Australia, Belgium, Canada, USA, Finland, New Zealand, and Netherlands)
– A la atención de Victoria Hernández (Auxiliares from France or Ireland)
Ministerio de Educación, Cultura y Deporte
Subdirección General de Programas Exterior Educativa
Paseo del Prado, 28, 5ª Planta
28014 Madrid

If you are applying to be placed with your partner (who is also in the program) then write a letter asking to be placed near each other and send this with your application. It worked the first year for my partner and I but this time they placed us on two separate islands, so it is worth a try but sometimes it doesn’t work out as planned.

If you need more help or information you can find it all here.

February Bulletin Board ’14

mobile 071 This year I wanted to try something new.  Many kids at my school and others make fun of the Asian students calling them names or in some way poking fun at their culture, language and lifestyle.  I hate this.  I love to learn from other cultures and I want the kids to learn to respect where people come from, their culture and learn from it as well.  There are so many aspects of other cultures that these kids have adopted already without paying tribute to the origin.  So, for February I created a Chinese New Year English Board Poster.  In Spain this holiday is celebrated by many because there is a large Chinese immigrant population here.  I know by my apartment there were fireworks going off and in Parla they sent off Chinese lanterns to bring in the New Year.

mobile 073For the year of the horse I created a large horse silhouette, below it I showed the snake slinking away as last year’s news but he left wchinese new yearishing the kids good luck in the New Year.  I also posted interactive flaps the kids could lift to find out what their sign was or learn the history of Chinese New Year.  I hope some kids liked it.  At least, I know they liked the horse stickers because the lil buggers stole them.

Día de la Paz

peace day art  Every year at my school on the anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi’s death we celebrate the day of non-violence and peace. Last year every class contributed to the peace garden and made peace murals. This year we paid tribute to Nelson Mandela.


peace day artpeace day artEach grade learned about his life in English and in Spanish then we made different pictures and murals to decorate the halls of the administration building. The artwork will remain up for the rest of the year.  I painted the green Nelson; it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. Whenever I walk down this stairwell I smile, you just can’t help it when you see the little first graders portraits of Nelson Mandela.


thanksgiving bulletin boardLuckily at the school I work at they have never asked me to create a Thanksgiving Day presentation, otherwise I wouldn’t know how to approach it.  But this year I decorated the English board with a Thanksgiving Day turkey theme.  I wanted to pay tribute to this majestic animal that Ben Franklin thought should have been our national bird.  I agree with Ben but I am biased because I had baby turkeys while I was growing up and Ben was one of my idols as a kid.  So for the Bulletin board I wrote up 13 facts about turkeys in English and with Spanish translation.  The kids had to lift up the flaps to read the facts; I thought that would make it more enticing.  Being vegetarian I may have added one or 2 eye-openers as well.   And fact number 13 was a picture of me as a baby with my baby turkeys plus a little written fact about me, I think it was the one they looked at the most.

Besides the facts I also had my 4th grade class write up things they are thankful for on big turkey feathers and we used them to make a rather beautiful turkey centerpiece for the board.

The English board definitely gets more action when I add in a Spanish translation, it is a lot more work for me but the response is wonderful.

After school program

The teachers association (AMPA) at my school wants to create an English after school program where the auxiliaries de conversacion teach conversation classes to small groups of students. At first we were jumping on board because we thought they said each kid pays 20€ per hour long class and there would be about 5 kids in each class. But when we clarified payment they really meant it would be 20€ per kid per month, meaning about 5€ a kid per class. Dirt Cheap. In the end it seemed like less of a hassle than finding our own students who might flake out, commuting to their houses, dealing with awkward money negotiations and spoiled kids in their own environment. So we started the program. It really isn’t enough money to justify the work we will be doing in creating lesson plans, creating order, disciplining etc. but I’ll be earning an extra 200-300€ holidays included and if kids drop they will replace them, I’ll be teaching in a classroom with computers on hand and I won’t have to commute to anyone’s home so it’ll do for this year. Besides it will be good teaching practice and will force me to create and experiment with new group lessons and esl games. Although I could make more money with my own private after school lessons, this is a steady check and one on one lessons can become boring so it might be nice to have a group so they can play off each other. We’ll see how it goes.

Back to School

This year my school was way more organized than last year. When we arrived they had our schedules ready, days off sorted, paperwork ready for us to fill out; it was quite impressive. I lucked out and had Mondays off again which is nice this year because there are a lot of holidays that fall on Friday. I’ll also be teaching an Adult English Class on Fridays during the lunch break with another assistant. I’m a bit nervous because I don’t know what to expect but it could be a lot of fun and great teaching practice. Teaching this class also makes my schedule a bit more flexible since it counts as paid class time, this allows me to get out of the kids classes a bit early some days. I’m working almost entirely with 4th grade again and sometimes with 2nd. There is a new 4th grade teacher and she is new to the Trinity so a lot might be placed on my shoulders this year. I’m ready to take on the responsibility but also a bit nervous. We shall see how it goes.