Teaching: A Learning Experience

It’s hard to believe that I arrived in Valladolid two weeks ago already! Let me be cliché and say that time flies when you’re having fun! But really, what an amazing time I am having here, along with the other intern from Jamestown Community College, Blake Peterson. We’re also joined by a student from Pittsburgh, Jamie.

For the past two weeks, Blake, Jamie, and I have been observing and helping out the United Cultures S.L. English teachers as they work in the classrooms that we will eventually be teaching ourselves. We have a pretty busy schedule; on Monday we go to a local daycare, and we also have two classes at Ponce de Leon public school here in Valladolid. At Ponce de Leon, we teach elementary age children. We also go to Ponce de Leon Tuesday through Thursday. Along with this, we interns each have our own little projects. On Wednesdays and Thursdays I have a class over the phone, which we call a “business call” with an adult student who lives outside of Madrid. My student, Leny, and I have a conversation for half an hour so that she can practice her English. On Thursdays, I also have a class with a brother and sister in their home. Julio and Raquel are seven and five, and they are a lot of fun! Fridays we do not have class at Ponce de Leon, but rather at ASPAS, which is where we teach hearing-impaired children. These students are also elementary age. Oh, and did I mention that every night we have a class with our host family? So yes, we have very busy schedules.

The outside of the Ponce de Leon public school, a multi-story brick building.

This is Ponce de Leon public school in Valladolid, Spain, where I teach!

But I am not complaining! Far from it, actually…I love what I am doing here. It has been so rewarding so far, and I’ve only been here for two weeks! I look forward to going to work every day to see the kids. Even though half of the time I have no idea what they are saying, we are still forming relationships and learning from each other. Also, knowing that I am helping them learn something that will help them in the future just makes me feel good! It’s as simple as that.

I have learned so much about myself and Spain and how to communicate better with others; who knew that teaching could be such a learning experience? Basically, everything I am experiencing right now takes patience. And if you know me personally, you know that I sometimes have a little trouble with that. So that is one virtue that I am learning to master! Imagine having a class of little ones who speak minimal English (colors, numbers, some animals…) and trying to keep them under control and teach them! Singing songs and coloring (my personal favorite activity) helps a lot. Now that I am going to begin planning my own lessons, I need to start thinking about these things!

Speaking of lesson plans, I am also learning how to plan and conduct a class. The other interns and I meet with Heather, our supervisor, on Mondays and she helps us come up with ideas for classes. Although it takes time, I am looking forward to leading activities.

And a note on my Spanish: it is improving. Very slowly but surely, it is improving! It’s definitely getting easier to understand…kind of. I’m going to keep practicing! I need to remember, patience.

Every day here is a welcomed challenge. Getting to know all of the wonderful people who I work with, live with, and teach is a blessing! So far being an English teacher in Spain has taught me a lot, and I am anxious to learn more!

Luci Sena stands with several of her young students. Here the students at Ponce de Leon are showing off their artwork.

We have been learning about colors and animals. Here the students at Ponce de Leon are showing off their artwork.

About the author

Luci Sena

Hi! My name is Luciana Sena, but you can call me Luci. I am currently a freshman here at JCC with an individual studies major because, to be honest, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. But I’m OK with that because it gives me the chance to explore! For the spring 2014 semester my surroundings will dramatically change as I embark on an amazing adventure teaching English in Valladolid, Spain! What an incredible opportunity I have been given; I am beyond excited to partake in this experience as well as to share it with all of you!