class is in session

My first day of class was Monday, January 13. I awoke as excited as I used to be on the first day of school when I was a kid. I had even laid out my clothes the night before, choosing just the right combination of items that I hoped conveyed the message, ‘I’m cool, but I’m here to work, too’.

Like most first days, it was a bit of a blur. I arrived and met the school’s bilingual coordinator, Mila, who, for all intents and purposes is in charge of me. She was extremely excited to see me and I could tell that she was more than a little bit relieved that I was older than the previous two auxiliaries that had been at the school before. The one from the previous year, she told me, was a guy named Curtis from New Orleans. Apparently he was nice enough, but according to Mila, he was more interested in vacationing than actually teaching or putting in work in class. Plus, many of the students and teachers found his English very difficult to understand. I assured Mila that even many Americans found New Orleanian English difficult to understand. The most recent auxiliar, whom I was replacing, had returned to America after only 2 days in town. She had written Mila an email after only 1 day in class explaining that she was very depressed and needed to return to New York immediately to see her therapist. Because of this, the school had been without an English assistant for pretty much the whole school year. It was clear that the bar for performance had been set pretty low, so I figured I wouldn’t have to try too hard to make a good impression here.

One curious note was that apparently, some of the teachers had been expecting a male to show up. They thought the name Kisha sounded like a guy’s name. No idea why.

Some other observations after my first few days on the job:

  • The school bell sounds like a cross between a fire alarm and an air raid siren. Near ’bout had a heart attack the first time I heard it! Grabbed my stuff and everything. Then saw everyone else just carrying on like business as usual, so I figured it must be normal.
  • A few of the male teachers were kinda lecherous in their introductions. After Mila escorted me into the teacher’s lounge, they were falling over themselves to say hi or try out their English. One even asked me (half-jokingly) which of them I thought was most handsome. Lawd. They’re totally harmless, though. Pretty typical behavior for Spanish men, from what I hear.
hangin’ in the teacher’s lounge, aka ‘club profe’
  • Everyone at school has been extremely eager to help out with whatever I ask for. I mentioned to one of the Spanish teachers that I could use some help with my Spanish, and the next day, she presented me with a stack of workbooks for me to take home for as long as I want. After hearing me lament about my long bus ride from my place to school, Mila went around asking everyone if they could let me carpool with them, I’ve already got two folks that I now ride either to or fro with multiple days a week!
my spanish workbooks
  • The kids here are very boisterous. Not bad, but extremely talkative and undisciplined. I am already trying to set expecations for how I want them to behave, but I can tell it’s going to be an uphill battle.

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