Tuesday, November 22, 2011

About the school...

This is going to be an overview of the school for those students that will be here in the future and others that are just curious.

  • School is from 9:30 to 5:10. There is a 30 minute break at 12 noon and then 1-1.5 hour break(depending on the class you are in) at 2:20 for lunch. On Wednesdays, there is no class in the afternoons. I am told that in the rest of Spain, most schools do not have class on Wednesday or Friday. Interesting...
  • The schedule here is very lax. I write that school starts at 9:30, but kids are still arriving 10 minutes or so after that. During the day, there is no allotted time for class changes or locker breaks. Therefore, if class is supposed to start at 11:10, then expect it to start around 11:20. Teachers do not arrive early to class. If they are there at 11:10, that is good enough. There is an occasional bell denoting that class is over, however students will just leave around the right time. 
  • The school is laid out so that most of the classrooms have walls of glass or no walls at all. I see this as a major cause for distractions, including both visually and auditory problems. Most of these kids seem to do fine with the extra noise and movements, however, they are still just kids. They notice changes. I think it has been more of an adjustment for me than them.
  • They will go to school until December 23. But they do not come back till January 9th. They celebrate another holiday on January 6, which is like Christmas again but just for little children. My teacher explained that it is when "the magic kings bring gifts to the infants."
  • Most(all but 2, maybe) girls have long, brown hair, usually straight or wavy. The boys all have short dark hair. All students wear uniforms and I have witnessed several teachers reminding students to tuck their shirts in. Girls all wear plaid skirts and tights while boys all wear jackets and ties. These items can be purchased at the school store for a price, and used clothing can be bought.
  • The biggest difference that I have noticed in my short time here is the classroom management. It is completely different. These students are very loud and talkative. Granted, I cannot confirm what their discussions are about since my Spanish is limited to 5 words, but Jordi assures me it is mostly work related. From what I have seen in the classrooms before my arrival in Spain, this would not be tolerated. I find all the talking and moving around to be disruptive and in some cases, disrespectful. Most of these students that are at this school, have been here for years and are used to it. There is also a lot of group/partner work in my classes that require communication with another student. This is different than most American schools that I have been a part of, where independent work is the majority.
Overall, I am finding this experience to be eye opening. It is amazing what these children can soak up and learn. And the vast difference in the teaching styles is crazy. I have questioned both of my teachers about the standards to which they are held to. I am wondering how they can get away with doing so many projects and group assignments and still cover all the necessary content, a frequent discussion among SKyTeach students. From what I can gather, the government does give them a curriculum to follow, but it is so broad that really anything can be taught. If I understand Jordi correctly, there are end of the year assessments that the students must take. It is the same test, "state" wide. He made it sound like it was multiple choice, but I hope to gain more information about this.

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