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I'm applying to be an auxiliar again in Madrid for next year, because I feel like I'm finally finding my "niche", or I suppose the more apt way to put it is I've found a rhythm that suits me. I've found a groove that feels comfortable for now.

I'm enjoying teaching at my school. I get along well with all my coworkers, I enjoy teaching my students, and the school treats me well... that is, for being in Madrid, they treat me well.

I'm going to be bluntly honest though about one thing, and this is in the interest of those of you looking to become auxiliares one day- by and large, most of the schools in the Comunidad de Madrid do not treat you all that well, especially in comparison with schools in almost any other comunidad autónoma in Spain.

Take all of what I say in this blog with a grain of salt- I only say this based on what I hear from my friends and also on my own experiences. It's not as though I have surveyed every auxiliar in Spain. A lot of the conclusions I come to are my own thoughts and speculations. This is, after all, a blog, not CNN or The New York Times.

I think I was lucky because the school I'm working at is only in their first year of the bilingual program, and I believe this is why they treat me better than some of the other schools la Comunidad de Madrid my friends are placed at, which are in their 4th or 5th years of being in the bilingual program. This is my theory, and again to emphasize that word "theory", I have no scientific base for this: The schools who have been in the bilingual program for a couple years are jaded, because let's be honest- a large portion of the auxiliares (especially from US and Canada) working in Madrid came here for three reasons- 1) to party, 2) to live in Europe (not Spain), 3) to travel to as many places in Europe as possible.

Compare this to anywhere else in Spain where there are auxiliares (except Barcelona maybe)- it's not nearly as easy to fly to other European cities, so if you chose to be there, it's because you wanted to be in Spain, not just in Europe as a whole. You wanted to improve your Spanish and actually get to know the culture. You are willing to invest your time, energy, and possibly even your soul into this region of Spain where you're teaching. The teachers and principal at your school, even the families of the students you're teaching, your neighbors, etc. realize this, whether at a conscious or subconscious level, and because of that they are so happy to have you at the school. The smaller the town, the more true this is, is my guess. In a little town like Hinojosa del Duque, where I was last year, they were happy I chose to be there rather than somewhere bigger and more exciting like Sevilla, Madrid, or Barcelona. It's not an easy dedication to make- living in a small town in a foreign country, and the people there know it and are grateful for that dedication.

Choosing to live in Madrid on the other hand, what dedication does that take? It's a big city that offers nearly everything- an airport that's just a metro ride away, other expats (whether American or other), concerts, large festivals, museums, endless shopping, and of course what everyone comes to Madrid for- unbeatable nightlife.

My guess is that schools in Madrid have had auxiliares come to school hungover, or even not at all, or who just simply didn't care and only wanted to just be in Madrid to party and enjoy the international life- no interest in practicing their Spanish, or getting to know the children or families or their co-workers, or the local culture. Or at least, this is how the school *views* the auxiliares, not that the auxiliares actually have no interest. And because of that they're more strict. Some examples-

Outside Madrid:
In most of Spain as an auxiliar, they're super flexible about your schedule. If you want to take some days off to travel, it's no problem, and you just make them up. If you need to leave a bit early to catch your bus, sure, fine.
In Madrid:
May I leave my school just five minutes early to catch the cercanía at 3:22 rather than at 3:42? No, not unless I have an appointment or something important. Can we arrange my schedule a bit differently so I don't have to stay for the long 2 hour break at the end of which I only have to work 45 more minutes? Can't we move those 45 minutes to condense my schedule better? Haha- NO.
I'm impressed I was even able to get the day before Semana Santa off!!!!

All that said, my school is way more cool than other schools. One of my friends at another school was actually told by the teacher that she wasn't allowed to sit down or that she wasn't allowed to leave the classroom until every single child had left because she had to spend every second conversing with them.

It just boggles me how strict some of the schools in Madrid are, and Spain is really not a country known for being strict. The only thing I can think of is that they're just jaded by auxiliares who are (or whom they perceive to be) only at the schools just so they can go party later, not because they care about teaching.

I would just like to say that all though I do enjoy Madrid's night life, I do also enjoy teaching at my school and love my students. In fact, a couple weeks ago I went on a field trip with them to the Museo de Ferrocarril and it was a lot of fun. And obviously I am interested in Spain's culture, since I invested a bit of my soul into Hinojosa del Duque!!!!! So don't get any ideas....


( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
Mar. 11th, 2010 11:14 pm (UTC)
More info
Hey can you email me (kikitoodles@gmail.com) with the information about what program you're doing? I am definitely going to Spain to teach English after I graduate, but I am not sure which program is the best. Did you get your TEFL certification before going? and how far in advance do I need to apply before the date I would like to start?

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )