A Day in the Life of an Auxiliar

6:45 AM *harp music* Don’t be fooled. I’m not in heaven. My phone’s alarm is going off. Apparently I made the executive decision last night to not shower today. That makes day two.  If I had chosen to shower it would be 6:30 AM. Breakfast, ponytail and I’m out the door.

7:19 AM F*CKKKKKK I’m supposed to be out the door by 7:15 AM to be able to walk casually to the bus station. I’ll now have to run a block. Like seriously. Like physically run down the street.

7:30 AM The bus driver says, “Hola, guapa!” obviously not making a statement about my appearance, but recognizing that I’m one of his regulars. I swipe my precious €90 abono card (probably one of my most expensive possessions) and hunt for a window seat.

8:09 AM After lots of reading, listening to music or sleeping we finally arrive in Alcalá de Henares. Part one of the journey has been completed. I find a place to sit on the floor in  the station and wait for my next bus.

8:19 AM I meet my British coworker waiting for the bus. She bids me Good Morning with a cheery smile and we hop on the bus. Just as the bus is about to pull out, the slacker British boy hops on too. We bitch about how tired we are, talk about something really funny that happened in class or something weird that Spaniards do. Even though we’re from different continents we can relate on so many things and they make my commute a little less daunting.

8:45 AM We walk up to the school and drag ourselves into the English department to meet our other two American coworkers. I announce that I got placed in the Islas Baleares next year. The girl,my worst frenemy, is on her A game at this bright and early hour commenting, “Oh next WINTER?” She’s obviously implying that I’m going to be on an island in the winter trying to sour my news. I’m the worst passive aggressive fighter, so I try to calmly smile and sass back, “No, next fall. You know? When the school year begins. But I’m not sure if I should do it.” She scrunches her nose and says, “Well I guess it’s a good idea…since you have no other plans.” Ouch. The bell rings. Time to go to class.

9:00 AM  I work only with second grade. A group of girls screaming “Brimbi” run up and hug me. I firmly tell them to sit down but they stay with their arms wrapped around me. I start a countdown from 5 and suddenly they’re flying to their chairs. The teacher I work with, a substitute sent by the ministry since the permanent teacher went on maternity leave, begins to tell me how tired she is today and how little sleep she got last night. It’s first period and the kids are already bouncing off the walls since she does nothing to quiet them while she chats with me.

9:15 AM I uncomfortably change the topic to ask what we’re doing today. She checks the schedule and 20 minutes into the class realizes what subject we’re doing this session. Finally she screams at the kids in Spanish and has them open their science booklets. She mumbles through the booklet telling the kids that reptiles are oviparous, vertebrates and covered in scales in the most incoherent and horribly pronounced way. I take a look around the classroom and see kids picking their noses, chatting, playing with yugio cards, stacking their f*cking school supplies in some sort of leaning tower and just all around not paying attention at all. If I asked them what scales were, even the smartest kid wouldn’t be able to tell me. Not wanting to offend the sub I don’t take over the lesson, but instead run around the classroom giving each student a mini private lesson and making sure they caught something. She tires of all this “hard work” and decides to throw on youtube. She randomly finds an Amphibian song. The song talks about polliwogs, but their booklets say tadpoles (ie the exam will ask them to write tadpole) but she could give two shits what the song says. She turns to me, smiles and says “Break for us!” I put on my fake smile and die a little on the inside.

10:30 AM Along with the sub I move to the next second grade classroom. It’s English class and I’m already dreading what’s going to happen next. She hasn’t prepared anything for class and turns to me and asks if I can practice THE TRINITY *dun dun dun* The treeneetee as everyone here calls it is a god awful exam the students do with a native *British* English examiner in May. The whole year is spent preparing the students for this exam because the point of learning is to do well on tests, right? NOT! This teach to test method in their education is the bane of my existence at the school. I repeat the same questions from a prepared sheet over and over to different students. “Where are you from?” “Have you got any brothers or sisters?” “Are you wearing trousers?” (yep, British English) If I stray even a little from the paper the students won’t understand. With no materials or visual aid I have to hold the entire class’s attention. Their teacher is sitting comfortably at her desk grading exams she should have graded at home a week ago. When I ask them what I’m wearing I pretend to walk down a runway and pose at the end in between the rows of desks. They’re bored. I’m bored. And we could use a few laughs.

11:15 AM Por fin! I’m free from this teacher and get to move to the last 2nd grade class. The next teacher I work with has been at this school for years and is the English department director/my boss. She greets me with a warm smile and quickly tells me today’s plan of attack. We work together as a team switching between teaching the entire class and working with students individually. She humbly asks me how to pronounce certain words, compliments me on my teaching style and tells the students to thank me for my help just before I leave. As I reach for the door I feel a small hand poking my butt. I turn to see a small girl holding up a paper with the words “I love you, Brikdi” on it. In mock surprise I say, “For me?!” She nods and her little dimple grows deeper. I leave for break excited to show my coworkers the new version of my name to add to the collection.

12:00 PM Desayuno! Yep, most the teachers call this break breakfast. They’d laugh if I even tried to tell them that this is the time we eat lunch in America. A plate of ham is on the table along with a basket of bread. I opt for a coffee and a banana. Maybe I should be mingling with the other teachers, showing them I actually speak Spanish, but I don’t know what to talk about. Most are married with kids and live in this small pueblo. If I asked them their weekend plans they’d likely say they were planning on going to the park. I instead hang with my auxiliar coworkers. We just found out that our idea to teach the kids about African countries where English is the official language just got picked up. BUT instead the teachers are just going to do a more general Africa, or as my sub teacher called it “black Africa,” and sing “Waka waka” by Shakira. 2nd grade teachers chose Western Sahara even though I volunteered to create a presentation on Egypt with pictures, papyrus paper and even belly dance. Despite having the Western Sahara topic, the 2nd graders are learning to sing “In the Jungle” from the Lion King. I’d shake my head, but I’ve done so much of it this year I can only laugh and scream “A weeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeee eeeeeeee weeeeeeeem ummmmm ummmm a wayyyyyyy!”

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM SSDC (same shit, different class)

2:00 PM The bell finally rings and the students tear out of the classroom. Some of them stop to hug me and even make a kissy face asking me to bend over so they can give me a kiss on the cheek. Phew! Another day closer to the weekend! I have a quick lunch and make my way to my private lesson. She’s four years old and painfully shy. I literally feel like I’m torturing her for an entire hour. The only relief is singing songs. Our favorite is “I like the flowers” We’re even able to harmonize like in the video.

4:00 PM My extracurricular class at the school begins. Here there are no teachers watching me or sending me to do Trinity work. The kids and I laugh, sing songs and work through the entire class. I bust out all my summer camp games which are so effective and loved by the students. Emotion is learning! Thanks, ACLE!

5:00 PM I impatiently wait for the last parent to pick up their kid and pretend to calmly walk toward the main gate. When I’m out of their sight I break into a full on gallop to catch the bus. I hear kids from the park calling “Blini” but keep running shouting “See you tomorrow!” over my shoulder. No way in hell am I staying another minute in this pueblito.

6:30 PM Hogar dulce hogar! I go into the kitchen to get a snack and find a pile of dishes stacked on the counter top. Two of my seven roommates are Spanish university students that go home nearly every weekend to have their laundry washed. I’ve asked them multiple times to tidy up (which is NUTS because I’M usually the messy roommmate!) To cope I’ve started to steal their dishes and hide it in a bag under my bed mainly for shits and giggles.

8:00 PM I check my facebook messages and there’s a massive thread with all my Madrid friends on it. It’s Wednesday and they want to get 100 montaditos. EUROMANIA! I’m in!

10:00 PM I’m so physically exhausted from the day that this tinto de verano has got yo gurl tipsy. Time to go to bed and get ready for another day of auxiliaring. Chau!

Refer to this page if you want to know anything else about what it’s like being an auxiliar.


Today is my blogiversary!!!! 🙂 Exciting stuff! I’m a disciplined adult human woman!



10 thoughts on “A Day in the Life of an Auxiliar

  1. Reading this is just hysterial. I was an auxiliar for two years in Madrid, working with 1st and 2nd grade at a colegio near Metro Quintana…the shitty Spanish teachers, 100 montaditos, the ridiculously late breakfast….oh and i TAUGHT THAT LESSON ABOUT REPITLES! Really, who wants a 2nd grader to learn the word “oviparous”?? So ridiclous. Suerte, tia!

    1. hahah after months of talking and moaning with my friends I realized that my average day is pretty much like everyone else’s, so I thought I’d share for anyone interested in what it’s really like! But ohhh man! What would it be like to have a school placement off a metro stop?

      1. Actually it was off Alameda de Osuna (I used to LIVE in Quintana so that’s why I wrote that haha) It was pretty nice to just catch the green line east and fall asleep on the metro until it stopped, not gonna lie I was really happy I didn’t get assigned a school in las afueras (alcala de henares, bufff) I came back from Madrid last August, and now I work in Costa Rica haha!

      2. If I get a shitty commute next year I think I’ll quit! ha! Costa Rica? What a dream! I’m looking into getting back to Latinoamérica soon!!

  2. I can identify with 99 percent of this….the 1 percent being that I don’t have any American coworkers I can bitch with! Also, I have given the oviparous viviparous scales feathers blah blah blah lesson to every bilingual class I have. They learn this very important stuff from primero to tercero. Seriously can we mix it up a bit?!

  3. Hahahaha this is incredibly and depressingly accurate! I work in a secondary school, so the kids are less cute and more capable. The majority of teachers are excellent but I have class with one teacher where I inwardly, and often outwardly, cringe at his total lack of teaching abilities – mumbling instructions, changing activity without telling the students, leaving the class with no explanation half way through. He also makes me give on the spot hour long presentations about topics such as ‘history’ and ‘prom’.

  4. Great post! As usual, it sounds like the kids are the best reward of auxiliaring. I honestly didn’t know whether to laugh or cry about “black Africa” and the “Saharan Jungle”.

    1. They are definitely the most rewarding part. It’s been 3 years and I still remember a lot of those kids’ names!

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