Hello all! Here is an overdue blog about what I get up to at school nowadays. Workshops have been stopped this year and instead I am going into classes to help and (occasionally) teach. I primarily work with the pre-kinder to 5th grade students, which is the equivalent of UK primary school, and it’s quite a range! We teach everything from ‘hello’ and ‘what’s your name?’, to parts of the plant and places in town.
I work closely with 3 different teachers during the week, and sometimes Emily and I go into 3° and 4° medio (year 12 and 13 equivalent) electronics classes to help them prepare for an English presentation they have in the second semester. It’s been really refreshing working with the older kids since they have a good level of English and actually want to learn – for the most part. I’m not going to lie, I chose to work with the younger years because I didn’t really like working with the older years last year, but helping out in 3° medio has really boosted my confidence.
Anyway, here is a rundown of a typical day at school. My lesson vary depending on what day it is (I work with different teachers on different days), so here is just a general overview. I hope you find it interesting!
5:30am – wake up
Yep. Due to our long commute Emily and I now have the joy of waking up at 5:30am every morning in order to leave the house at 6:10am. This was easier last month, when it wasn’t so freezing in the mornings and I could actually feel my feet. Still! It’s nice to be able to prove I can actually wake up early. Who knows, maybe I’ll continue my early rising back in the UK (who are we kidding of course I won’t).
6:10am – leave house
Because we get picked up in a place about a 10 minute drive from where we live, each morning we take a colectivo from near the metro station to our pick up point. The best way I can explain a colectivo is that it’s kind of a cross between a bus and a taxi. It’s a car that has a fixed route (kind of?), but you pay a fixed rate (for us this is 550 pesos, around 70p) and the driver will drop you off where you want along the route. It’s a really useful system, not least for getting rid of small change!
Once we get picked up by one of the deputy-headteachers, it takes around an hour to get to school. She also picks up other people along her route, and it’s not uncommon for us to be driving with 4 people in the backseat by the time we get to school.
7:30am — 8:10am – Arrive, Eat Breakfast
We typically arrive at school at around 7:30am. One morning I was so tired I didn’t actually wake up when we arrived and one of the teachers had to wake me up… Anyway, breakfast is now provided for us by the school, so we each get a free sandwich in the morning. My personal favourite is scrambled egg – which is also the favourite of practically every other teacher so you have to be there early before it’s all gone.
After greeting everyone with the usual hug and kiss, we have about 10 minutes of calm before lessons start. If we have to make our own way to school, we usually arrive just after the first class begins so we don’t usually get the chance to sit down and breathe before our morning lessons.
8:10am — 1:20pm – Morning Lessons
My timetable is a bit different to the beginning of the year, due to new teachers arriving and Angie taking the role of coordinator for the half of the English team I work with. This isn’t a bad thing though, since I now work mostly with classes I’m actually useful in and enjoy working with, rather than ones where barely anything gets done.
Wednesdays and Fridays may look a little sparse but we’re now leaving earlier on those days which is why I don’t have classes in the afternoon.
In the lessons I typically do the routine at the beginning. Depending on which teacher I am working with, the routine can range from asking the students for the date in English to saying a prayer and asking the pupils different questions.
Then, during the lessons I typically help during the guided learning by saying words and phrases so the students can hear native pronunciation, and afterwards in the independent learning section of the class I go around and help students.
Below are some photos of my work with students in 4°C, teaching them to tell the time in English:
Depending on which class you’re with, lessons can range from horrible to surprisingly fantastic, but something interesting always happens. In one lesson with 5°C when they were taking a test, 5 boys burst in halfway through with a dog (there are always dogs in school). So, regardless of how the lesson is going, it’s never boring!
1:20pm — 2:05pm – Lunch!
My favourite part of the day! Just kidding… Sort of. Since Emily and I no longer share classes and rarely have a break together (primer ciclo and segundo ciclo have different timetables), we spend our lunch time catching up with one another and either celebrating or commiserating our morning lessons. As lunch is the biggest meal of the day in Chile, we are given soup, salad, the main meal, hallulla pudding and a drink. When I first arrived this seemed like a crazy amount of food, but I quickly adjusted to the change with little difficulty (hah hah). The kitchen staff are really lovely and quickly learn your preferences too! There’s almost always sweet corn waiting for me and Emily when we get to the front of the queue.
Below is a photo of a typical Friday meal at school: chicken and chips. It’s not the most traditional Chilean mean I could have chosen to take a photo of but it’s the only meal I actually remembered to photo before eating half of it.
2:05pm — 3:35pm – Afternoon lessons
As I have lunch at the same time as segundo ciclo so that Emily and I can eat together, I only have two lessons in the afternoon. These are usually a lot hotter (it takes most of the day for the school to warm up as central heating isn’t a thing here), and the children are a lot more distracted. I do pretty much the same thing in these lessons as I do in the morning ones, except if I’m in a first or second grade class at the end of the day I help take the children to the gates to be handed to their parents.
Above is a video (I hope it works) of 1°A feeling a little more awake and singing along to the feelings song (a favourite amongst the 1st graders). Every time I watch is video it makes me so happy; I’m going to miss my first graders so much when I leave.
4:00pm – Home
Aside from Wednesdays and Fridays when we leave after lunch, we typically leave around 4pm. Our commute is probably the most brutal part of the day (unless I have 2°C), as we have to take a bus out of Quilicura and then travel pretty much the length of 2 metro lines before reaching home. It’s not so bad once you get used to it, but it definitely takes it out of you. The second metro is a lot nicer though since it’s mostly above ground, which means on a clear day I have a lovely view of the mountains for most of the journey.
6:00pm – And, rest (then repeat)
After arriving home, we usually just completely flop. I go for a run every other day which is a great way to unwind from school, and I spend my evening having once, chatting with Catty and having an early night ready for the next 5:30am start. The long days are tough, but I really love where we live and feeling at home there is definitely worth the early mornings and long metro rides.
That’s my day! I’ve really enjoyed going into classes this semester and getting to know a lot more children. Working in the classes and getting children who don’t want to work to do the tasks set really gives me a sense of satisfaction I never really got doing the workshops and I’m so grateful I get to work with these children every day. Working as a teacher in a school such as the one I’m in has really taught me a lot about myself and what kind of person I am and has given me a clearer idea of what I do (or don’t) want to do in the future. While I’m still not 100% certain, I don’t think being a teacher is as horrible as I once did.
Thank you for reading this post and I hope you found it interesting! As of today, I have 17 days until my flight back to the UK. We only have one week left in school once we return from the winter holidays (we go back next Monday) and I’m already feeling such a mix of emotions. It hasn’t always been easy at the school but it’s taught me a lot and I’d like to think I’ve made school and English classes a nicer place for the children at school, if only just going in and making them laugh at my funny accent and dodgy Spanish.
Until the next one,