RealJobs: Ellen Willemin

The two other auxiliares and I arrived back from Salamanca Sunday evening, and after a long weekend of tourism, the girls and I were still exhausted this Monday in school. I must have looked it, because the teacher I work with before snacktime at 11:30 told me to leave class two minutes early to get a coffee. Or maybe it was the fact that I wrote “6th January” instead of “6th February” on the board for the date. Oops! Thankfully, we work with the nicest and most understanding group of teachers I could imagine.

A bilingualism meeting that we have every Monday.

Every day has its highs and lows. Today’s high: the other two auxiliares and I decided to start speaking Spanish at snacktime to get more practice, and we went for almost the whole half hour today. Go team!

Today’s low: It’s a tie. First period, one sixth-grader’s cold turned into a room-wide chorus of coughs and throat-clearing. As a teacher, there is no way to deal with this phenomenon other than to let it pass; yelling at everyone only makes it funnier, adding fuel to the fire. The only way I know how to deal with a situation like this is a, “Come on, guys. Let’s get real.” Sixth graders are generally sensitive to remarks that bring into question whether what they are doing is really “cool” or not.

Today’s other low was the returning of tests in my third grade science class—the highest grade was a 6.6 out of 10, and anything under a 5 is a failing grade. It was a big test, but they had studied all of it. The teacher asked me frustratedly, “Do I expect too much of them?” I definitely don’t think so. Third grade science is not just about learning the different types of landscapes and bodies of water, it is about learning how to think and how to behave in class, all of which are things this group has to focus on more. It’s hugely disheartening to feel that everything you say goes in one ear, out the other, but the question is, what can we do to fix it? What can I do as a language assistant to help make it stick?

Though it was a longer day than most, I enjoy every day, and I’m never without interesting and funny stories—elementary schoolers are full of those. For now, I’ve got to get to planning a lesson around the story “The Ant and the Grasshopper” for my fourth graders tomorrow, and a review game for my private class after school. Adios!


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