Classroom Takeover: From Assistant to Teacher
Annalise Mason is a Spanish and TESOL student from Nottingham Trent University. She is currently working as a languages assistant in a primary school in Alicante, Spain. If you wish to find out more about being a language assistant or life in Spain, check out her blog.
Recently I breached my contract as a conversation assistant.
No, I did not turn up to work drunk nor did I wear a bikini, teach the children swearwords or sleep through my morning classes. Actually, it states in my contract that I am not allowed to be a teacher and actually give the classes on my own, yet due to a change in circumstances, I did just that!
Maria, who is the normal teacher for years 5 and 6, is currently on sick leave for a few weeks and as they couldn’t get a replacement fast enough, they asked me if I could give the classes that I’m normally in (one lesson per class per week). However, because I didn’t want the children’s learning to suffer from a mix of teachers, I asked if I could give all the classes that week. Rémé gave the go ahead and I couldn’t wait to get started! Maria showed me where absolutely everything is in the classroom and even gave me her keys and memory stick. Once I got myself a green pen that was it, I was officially a teacher!
Monday was improvisation day. I had to ask all my classes (3 groups of year 6 and 2 groups of year 5) exactly where they were in the class book and activity book and as I asked them in English this was no simple task with a simple answer. The classes were very excited to have me as their teacher and year 6 worked in absolute silence. I’ve never heard anything like it in a school. It was almost too quiet… Year 5 did take a bit longer to settle down but still worked really well so I was happy. Once I’d got to grips with it all I started doing all the things that teachers do.
1. Mark exams.
I’m really, really, really, really, really, really happy that all 5 classes did exams the week before Maria left. It meant that I had the honour of spending my time marking approximately 125 papers. So happy... In reality, it was funny at times what children haveOne thing that they had to write was “Beth, what’s the matter?” I learnt 6 new spellings of the name Beth and genuinely laughed so loudly when I saw that one child had written “Bheth, Whats tomato?” Several had written baths instead of bats in a dictation about Dracula. Because vampires are always surrounded by bath tubs…
2. Set homework.
I have never felt so powerful mwahaha
3. Tell children off.
Obviously these children are only primary school children so I can’t issue detentions like a British secondary school. However one thing I do remember from primary school was that we were made to stand up with our hands on our heads if we were being naughty. One day, there was a boy who would just not shut up so I did just that. His face has never looked so confused and everyone else just laughed at him. Lesson learned!
4. Make lesson plans.
Some may think this is boring but I’m a massive control freak so I actually found it super fun.
5. Go on school trips for free.
Yes! When I was working last Friday (I don’t normally work Fridays), Rémé asked me if I wanted to go to Valencia with year 6 and year 2. Without really knowing where we were going, I accepted! We went to The City of Arts and Sciences and has a guided tour around the science museum. In the talk about electricity, the woman wanted to use a teacher as a volunteer. This caused all 25 children to chant my name until I walked to the front! All I had to do was touch a ball so my hair went static and wait for her instruction for when I can take my hand off. After seeing electricity sparking off this ball I panicked that I may not understand but don’t worry, I’m alive and I got to fulfil one of my dreams that I’ve had ever since seeing a picture in my secondary school text book! I learnt a TON of new words and also a lovely song that year 2 were singing about me wetting myself. Thanks.
6. Communication with parents.
I haven’t had to deal with parents face to face or over the phone but the week before, I was working on a project with year 6 about The Great Fire of London and this week 2 groups presented me with some beautiful posters that they’d done outside of class so I decided to write a little note in each of their homework diaries! As I was writing one (to one of my favourite students) I saw that on the Monday she had written “Anna is the best teacher of English” and my heart just melted.
7. Socialising with other teachers.
My Spanish still isn’t perfect so group conversations are pretty hard. However, this week I managed to interrupt a conversation with my opinion about 50 Shades of Grey, had a group conversation about my university degree and also had a group conversation about being a teacher in general!! Incredibly proud moments!! These all happened just at break time or in one of the two lunch times when I stay at school to eat. I also got invited out for lunch on the Friday but declined because it would involve waiting around (a lesson was cancelled) and I was way too tired by the end of the week!
It’s been an experience that’s for sure! I’m glad that I am two thirds qualified to be an English teacher otherwise this week and a bit would have been a lot more challenging! I’m lucky to have been placed in such a supportive school and I’m very happy that they could trust me with such a big task! Esther has taken over for the last three days and I’m already missing it! Can I do it again please??