Have you ever bitten into something wonderful where your mouth fills up with flavor, your taste buds dance, and your whole mood is lightened? And just as you are wondering, "What is this delightful little dish and why am I only now just discovering it?" something else starts to happen. The flavor changes, disappointingly so. Your once bright face begins to fall into confusion. Your chewing starts to slow, and your eyes swim from side to side trying to figure out if some cruel trick has just been played on you. That's about how things are going here. If you follow me on Facebook, you likely saw some wonderfully carefree pictures of me on the beach in Barcelona or on a bike ride passing lines of palm trees, but indeed, the flavor has changed.
I thought that by coming to Spain, I'd be given a break. I'd work on some passion projects, recharge, invest in myself. But it appears that I made a fatal error. I assumed that like other bilingual schools, I would do my four hours in the morning or the afternoon and have the other half of the day to myself. Not so. It's true I teach four hours worth of classes, but they are spread out throughout the day, so I am here for 7 hours instead of 4. Not what I expected, but hey, I can make do, right? I just bring my passion projects with me and work on them during lunch. No problem... except there's no heat in this school and by the time your break comes, the only thing you want to do is shiver into your tea and hope your jaw doesn't lock from clenching. I hear it's to get much colder once winter is full on. ( I'm teaching British English here if you thought "full on" was a little strange. It's seeping into my vocabulary. I cringe each time I have to refer to an eraser as a "rubber." How odd it is to say to a class of second graders, "Who has a rubber!" I do! I do! )
Anyway, ballet is going well, although I'm not nearly as good at it as I thought I would be. I thought I would go and do some graceful plies and kicks at the barre. Mmm...no. That's only about 15 minutes of the hour and a half class. We spend the first half of the class on the floor doing push ups, sit ups, flexibility training, and other strength conditioning. My goal is to be able to do a full split by June. The younger girls slide right down, back erect, hands resting lightly on either side of them. I, on the other hand, look like I'm in the ready, set, go position at a track meet. Below represents how fly I thought I would look, but based on the description in the previous sentence, this was not the case.
I am sweating by the time I get to the barre for my grand plies and by then you certainly don't feel (or smell) pretty. I thought I could maybe rectify this problem creatively by applying an at-home alternative to deodorant so that when I lifted my arms, I didn't see caked up white antiperspirant in the mirror. Per the Facebook video I saw, you just cut a lime in half and rub it into your armpit--a safe, natural way to combat body odor. Unfortunately, the next time I lifted my arms, there was pulp there that I hadn't noticed when I left home...and it was falling all over the floor causing ballerinas to slip and slide every which way. I was horrified but joined them on the floor so as not to be fingered as the culprit. I've since returned to Secret.
At any rate, that's just about it over here except for a few more observations I've made about schools in Spain:
--there are no lockers, only hooks for children to put their bags and coats.
--If they are not calling you by your first name, they simply call you "Teacher" or "Profe" (short for professor(a))
--Only the teachers change classrooms, so there is no personalization or ownership at all. No decoration, no name on the door, nothing. They just share the materials that are left in the room.
--There is a massive need for classroom management training for teachers. They just keep talking whether the kids are listening or not and then they just leave once the bell is rung. Students as young as 1st and 2nd grade are left in the room alone without supervision!
--Everyone teaches, including the principal and the secretary!
--None of the kids have cell phones!
--They all know about dabbing and spontaneously dab in class just like our kids do. I even had a student ask me with an earnest and sincere curiosity what the word "twerking" meant. I pretended to mishear him. "You mean, 'turning?'" After a few rounds of that, he gave up.