José Luis Sampedro Second Impressions

14 10 2010

Two solid weeks into teaching has me thoroughly enmeshed in the swing of things.

I assist in 19 classes a week, which amounts to a heavy workload; as such I consider it massive good luck that I adore the freneticism of the Auxiliar working style. It’s highly unusual that I know exactly what the plan is for each hour of the day – and here my fellow Auxiliares let loose a snigger at my understatement – but I find that I am absolutely most comfortable flying at top speed by the seat of my pants. It’s undeniable uncertainty, but the lack of rigidity means a high amount of wiggle room for the ambitious Auxiliar who just might be dreaming of brewing up a workshop series on critical thinking skills. You will be kept posted.

Quite a few general musings on the distinct qualities of the Spanish educational strategy have been posted on other Fulbright blogs, so I don’t plan on directly addressing them here. I’m also trying to allow space for my understanding of the experience to develop. I feel so differently about teaching this week than I did last week, and even then was significantly far from how I felt the week before that. Every day I wrap my head further around the quirky aspects of how the institution functions, along with how my aspirations can fit in – and flourish! – amongst the expectations and limited resources I confront every morning on campus.

I’m designing and executing a pair of classes centered around music each week with Patricia’s students. My first selection was Mika, both for the general likability of the tune as well as the clarity of the vocals. We filled in blanks, identified parts of speech, sought out synonyms, and discussed a few key points (“Does this song, indeed, make you feel relaxed? Why or why not?”). Today was the first round of student requested artists, beginning with Green Day. Almost every single lyric is an idiomatic expression of some variety; I couldn’t be prouder that my students now understand the phrase “bumper-sticker philosophy.”

There’s so much more – Laura (the other Fulbright at José Luis Sampedro) and I are slowly developing a joyful working friendship, which we hope to soon expand into the culinary realm. The other two Auxiliares, James and Heather, are a whirlwind force of expertise and dead-on impressions. I ride my patinete every morning and feel akin to the adolescent boy I never was. And, underlining it all: the students are, by and large, totally and mischievously delightful.


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8 responses

15 10 2010
Linda

Janel, I am speechless after reading this. Your writing blows me away! I cannot wait to hear more of your experiences in (and out) of the classroom. So proud.

15 10 2010
contomates

aww thanks! we’ll have to grab each other on skype soon and I’ll dole out some juicy details.

15 10 2010
Rich

I am incredibly happy that you are finding – and creating – a mesh with Madrid and the Auxiliars and everything else that is dancing around you. I feel very proud of you along with Mom.

15 10 2010
contomates

it IS a dance – a mad foxtrot maybe. a flamenco? i love it.

17 10 2010
Cassandra Gambill

I’m hoping to use music in some of my lessons as well, so I enjoyed seeing which tunes you’d picked out. Seguro que los dos estaran barruntando en las cabezas de los estudiantes mucho despues de salir del aula.

17 10 2010
contomates

do try green day’s “warning” – billy joe armstrong doesn’t exactly have the clearest voice, but the lyrics are 100% clean, and it’s pretty fun to explain “victim of authority”

18 10 2010
Alice

Janel, Your job sounds so exciting and (more than) extremely hectic. We are quite proud of you.

8 11 2010
Marty Torkington

Tell me more about your possible class in critical thinking. A heck of a great idea for those young folk..in fact, folks of any age. Dad sent me your article on parks around Madrid. Great style.

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