As the 2019-20 school year draws to a close in the grips of a global pandemic, it’s a good time to look back on happier times.
While I’ve worked as an Auxiliar de Conversación (AdC) for several years, I would have to say that my first year at IES San Clemente has been one of my best experiences so far. It was my first year working in a FP school, which brought numerous changes and challenges.
One challenge was the fact that I’m a complete Luddite. The fact that the students are all learning highly specialized vocabulary and terminology related to the creation of apps and web design spurred me on to have to learn a lot of new concepts. Many of them I still don’t really understand, but my technological blind spot gave the students and faculty many opportunities to teach me new concepts and ideas.
Another challenge that I faced this year was that I had previously spent the last few years teaching at primary schools. Teaching at a primary school is very different from teaching at a vocational school. All in all, I have to say I prefer teaching at a vocational school. While it can sometimes be a challenge finding a task or organizing a lesson around complex, real-world subjects in a way that keeps a classroom of adults with varying levels of English engaged, I feel like it was always worth it at the end of the day.
Most of the students had already had English lessons in primary and secondary school, so I quickly learned that doing grammar lessons based solely on grammatical concepts or vocabulary was a good way to put the students (and myself) to sleep. The classroom experience was much more rewarding when we had open discussions as a class or played games related to grammar, vocabulary, American culture, or IT. There were also many great opportunities to split the class up into smaller groups to have conversations about videos we had watched as a class, or just played competitive games involving English.
One of the best parts about working at San Clemente was the students. They all had a very positive attitude and I looked forward to classes with them every day. They were also very eager to teach me about Galician culture and history, the Galician language, and (most importantly—for me, anyways) about Galician cuisine. This year we also had the chance to prepare many students to take English exams (both organizing the Trinity Exams and setting up mock exams for the EOI). This was a very challenging experience, but it was also very rewarding seeing many of the students improve their level as the year went on and seeing many of them pass their exams or boost their confidence levels when speaking English.
I would say the overall highlight of the year, though, was working with the staff at San Clemente. It’s been an absolute pleasure working alongside Rachel and Kelly in our English classes. I’ve definitely become a better English teacher working alongside the two of them and I’ve learned a lot from both of them. In addition to preparing the students for exams or job interviews, we did a lot of fun activities in these lessons with the students which I’ll certainly steal and use as I continue to teach. It’s also been great working in the bilingual classes with Eva, Rafa, Bruno and Carrion. Eva has been especially helpful in helping me come up with activities for the classroom as well as encouraging the students to speak about difficult topics related to their field. I’ve missed our weekly coffee and English meeting these last few weeks of confinamento.
It’s also been great getting to know the rest of the staff at San Clemente. Whether we talked in the hallways, in the language office, at the cafe, or over delicious cocido at a local restaurant, I’ve enjoyed meeting the teachers and staff at San Clemente. The directora Carmen was especially helpful and always let me know that if I needed anything the school would help me out. The workers in the conserxería were also especially helpful if I needed anything as well.
Next year, I’m happy to say that I’ve reapplied to work at IES San Clemente. While I haven’t received an official acceptance letter yet, I’m positive that I will be accepted to stay another year at San Clemente. The school year passed too quickly—and ended too shortly–and I would like to experience it again if possible.
Thanks San Clemente! I hope to see you again next year!
AdC IES San Clemente
PS: Galician version coming up soon!