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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Colegio do SEK Catalunya

       The school SEK is actually a franchise of school first founded in 1892 by an ambitious creator.  Currently, there eight SEK schools all over europe including Finland, Madrid, Germany, and England.  They pride themselved in setting themselves apart from the average school system.  They are all private institutions yet not religion based.  All the SEK schools require uniforms and expensive monthly fees which guarantees the level of "class" and "economy" of the and smart kids. 
        SEK de Catalunya is a great school with a huge campus set right into the side of a mountian.  Majority of students travel over an hour to attend this school.  SEK offers the International Bacculuarte program which a prestigious and rigious course study for juniors and seniors in high school.  Once completing this IB program, the students are fully prepared for any university abroad or local.  SEK de Catulunya also a has huge focus on its students becoming trilingual, all students speak english, spanish, and catalian quite fluently upon graduation.  Class begins roughly around 9:30, but as I mentioned before time is a rather flexible idea in spain, there is a first snack break at 12:30 and then classes until midday lunch and play break from 2-3:300, classes resume after lunch till 5:15 with a small afternoon break.  Most students don't even get home till after six pm.
          An obvious observation one might make about this specific school...lack of doors. Not kidding.  This school was remolded during the 90's when a educational trend about not having doors to encourage movement, free flow of thoughts etc... Basically its get very LOUD.  While the rooms are sectioned off, there is no door in the entrance way, and the walls are all glass so it is easy for others to watch progress.  However, a perk is that teachers feel comfortable leaving students to run quick errands since there is no privacy. Also, each classroom has no less than 8 windows which is a nice luxuery. 

For my fellow educators

Teaching Observations:

Culture: Sometime it is difficult for the outsider to observe a classroom without fully understanding characteristics of the culture. I am having a great time in spain but there are definately large cultural differences that are cleary visible in the classroom. Two obvious differences: volume level and attitudes.
             Firstly, Spanish people are very LOUD and in result...their children are LOUD students. Seriously, the spanish teachers must have selective hearing or are just plain deaf after spending extended amounts of time. My teacher Lorenzo doesn't even seem to notice the volume level with the high school student while I am considering wearing earmuffs. 
            Secondly, the families in Spain have a very different attitude towards teachers.  Families are the clients and education is meant to be catered to the students.  Spanish parents teach an attitude that teaches the students to "watch their own back" "seek first to help themselves".  As a result, it creates a classroom of alpha dominate students that see no point in sharing crayons or slowing down material for a struggling classmate.
             Lastly, while I love observing the teacher inside me is dying to step in and "correct" these differences but I am a guest and more importantly an outsider of their culture.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Typical Day

A typical day at SEK collegio:

- 2:00 am Stayed up way too late with Chrissie skyping our friends due to the extreme time difference

--8:00 am Alarm goes off for school....hit the snooze button repeatedly

--9:00 am Finally get out of bed and scramble to get dressed in a combination of black on black outfits

--9:30 am Rush to the teacher's lounge to find my teacher, Lorenzo

--9:30-11:00am teaching english prep and college exams to various levels of students

--11:00-12:00pm Midmorning break with coffee and sandwiches for teachers and students

--12:00-2:30pm British Culture Classes

--2:30pm Finally the long break in the day for lunch and relaxtion, lunch is digusting, the school is obsessed with making everyone be healthy, this means no salt, sugar, butter, or salad dressings. Ew.

--3:30pm More english classes

--4:10pm Technology classes with the lower levels

--5:15pm School is out!!! Mass exodus of teachers and students alike

--5:30pm school grounds is practically deserted and the students teachers are left to wander and play

--6:00pm Kitchen staff drops off our dinner...which is usually gross, she speaks no english but we managed to explain that boiled fish is gross and that we would like more white bread and pastries.

Evenings Consist of starving and discussing cravings for american food, hiking upward into the mountians, strolling around La Garriga for shopping, ordering pizza, visiting the UK students, facebooking, watching the two channels our television provides us in english, taking a train in barcelona, prepping for tomorrow's lessons, laundy,and a random other activities.

Overall, its an enjoyable time in Espana :)
Balconey view before school in the mornings

We made pbj sandwiches!!!

Chrissie also equally excited about her sandwich

Calmari Salad...Gross

Other gross casseroles

Laundry on the dryers in spain

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving in Espana!

Boys checking the mini chickens

Thanksgiving Dinner


teaching the UK students to square dance
I was worried about being homesick in Spain for Thanksgiving, but it turned out to be a wonderful day overall :)  We organized a huge grocery shopping trip into town for our efforts to find food for a Thanksgiving dinner.  Spain people do not eat turkeys, so we had to settle for three miniture chickens instead.  We invited the 10 UK students to join us. The majority of them had almost no clue what the holiday meant to americans but they were eager to celebrate with us. We chowed on sweet potato casserole, mac & cheese. green beans, corn and much more. We ended then night exchanging dance moves with the UK students, sooo much fun!

Monday, November 21, 2011

First Weekend

We had a very successful first weekend in spain! My roomate Chrissie and I went for a morning hike up into the mountains and saw some beautiful scenery! Just like the movies! Saturday night we went into La Garriga for some shopping and dining. I'm definately supporting the spanish economy, their clothes are amazing! The weather is beautiful but this is their rainy season so alot of my photos include our rainjackets and newly purchased umbrellas, Ha!

We also spent Sunday in Barcelona. First, we had to take a train from the village to the city...which we missed our first train hence why there is a photo shoot of us playing on the train tracks.  Barcelona is huge! Basically like Chiago...except in Catalan, which is this region's language and its not even similar to spanish which proved to be a large obstacle. We tried and failed to find the english movie theater to watch the new Twlight...sigh..maybe next weekend.  Overall, the city has tons of sights, like a massive church created by the famous artist Guell, musuems, shoppings, a port, street performers, and tons of local resturants!

waiting for train in La Garraiga

Missed our train and now playing in the tracks

People LOVE their dogs here

Largest Unfinished Cathedral

Barcelona is Gorgeous

Saturday, November 19, 2011

La Garriga

The SEK school is 15min walk from the village La Garriga, a safe and sleepy village.  But adorable cobblestone streets, fountatins, a catholic church, shops, and pubs, plus beautiful landscaping and architecture.  Its fun to stroll down after class and enjoy the night scenery and catch some local food.

School Life

View from our Flat

Primary students playing "futball"
The SEK campus is a fabulous school, roughly a $1,000 per month to attend! Needless to say, these students are well-off. Im currently assigned to my mentor, Lorenzo, a hilarious man with excellent english speaking skills.  He heads the International Baccalaureate program, 17 & 18years olds for college prep classes for their important university entrance exams.  The students are so welcoming of me! Each class period they basically just interview me about my school experiences and life in the USA.  They are very glad to have a native english speaker to practice their skills.  They call me the "blonde one" since blondes are pretty rare in Spain.  But I'm having a blast here, the students are super cool and have promised to take me into town for their view of Spain. School roughly begins at 9:30 and ends at 5:00, but time is less structured here and clocks are rarely seen.  All the teachers speak at least two languages, and the students are tri-lingual from primary age.  The teachers are referred to by their first names! There is also a huge two hour break midday for lunch and relaxing.

photos from day one!

Tammy, Katie, Chrissie, Me, Bethony, Laura Beth, Amanda in nashville

View from our  flight overseas!

one half of the SEK campus buildings, La Garriga Village pictured behind


Hola from Spain! This country is beautiful! I can't express how pretty the view is outside my window! Firstly, everyone lied, the plane ride to europe was terrible, a tiny plane and they just showed one movie. But whatever, after eight hours we finally arrived! Spain has beautiful weather, 65 to 70 degrees everyday! We are currently staying in the flats located at the school, SEK.  SEK is a very affluent school, most students drive over an hour to come to school.  The school is very international with chinese, spanish, and british population of students.  The school is beautiful, right upon a mountain!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

So Soon!

OMG! The time is nearly here for my trip to Spain to begin! Say a prayer for a me and a safe flight please! I'm leaving Nashville at noon, flying to JFK, and then leaving for barcelona at 5pm, arrival in spain 14 hours later.  Of course I haven't packed a thing yet! There is no possible way that four weeks of teaching supplies, clothing, and basically my life is going to fit into one suitcase.  This is a horrible dilemma! But on the bright side, the current weather forcast in Spain says 70 degrees, i think i'll definately enjoy that!