As promised, I’m going to tell you all about my Placement and how I got it.
During the summer holidays of summer 2014, I had already started thinking about placement and what exactly I wanted to do. I’ve been wanting to be a teacher for a very long time and with the help of working at KUMON for three years, I was able to comfortably decide on which field I wanted to get myself involved in – teaching. Originally, I had the idea of teaching in Hong Kong. Hong Kong is basically my second home – where my parents were born. I love the country. I spent a few weeks emailing International schools in HK asking whether they would take on an intern for one year. To my disappointment, all responses were negative. Nowhere in Hong Kong were looking for/taking on Undergraduates with no real qualifications… Which is fair enough. It was definitely worth asking! Even if I did get a ‘no’ from everyone. I then decided to stop looking as it was during our summer vacation so I didn’t really want to stress myself out before second year of University had even started!
Second year had started and that was when the real search began. I turned to Aston Futures. I’m sure you are very familiar with Aston Futures by now…and if you’re not, what are you waiting for? Get yourself in there with the website! I actually began looking for teaching internships in Asia… There were many on offer in China, Vietnam, but they weren’t quite what I was looking for! So after a while, I gave up …on looking for teaching placements in HK.
My next option would be to do my year abroad somewhere in Europe and to my luck, there were several teaching opportunities in Spain – I guess you could say I was spoilt for choice! So in November 2014, I applied for a TA – teaching assistant role at a Spanish International School called SEK El Castillo, Madrid. I was nervous to apply because it was my first placement application but with the ever so useful help from the Blackboard resources, I was able to update my pretty non-existent CV and write up a well-written cover letter. A few days later of applying to this placement, I received an email offering an interview! I was quite surprised at how quickly the process was going – of course, I didn’t know what to expect, being my first application.
My interview was held via Skype and was not as formal as I thought it would be. I had prepared by researching the institution and practiced speaking with a confidence attitude. Again, I used Blackboard to help me with what I should expect during the interview.
The questions asked weren’t as ‘serious’ as they could have been. I’ve heard about job interviews and the random questions they ask you to catch you out but my interview was more of a ‘get to know you better’ one. My employer asked several questions from my first year grades to what I want to do in the future to do you like to clean. (Quite a selection, eh?)
I think my interview went fairly well and I was even told that I was ‘beautifully spoken’!
I was told that I’d get told whether I’d been shortlisted in a couple of months so it was a pure waiting game from then on.
On January 23rd 2015, I was offered the role. I received an email of congratulations in the afternoon and I was ecstatic! I didn’t stop applying for other placements after this one – I think I applied for 4 or 5 in total so it felt amazing to be offered the job by the first application!
What is my placement?
My job role is an English Teaching Assistant at a Spanish International School called SEK El Castillo, Madrid. I live next to the school in University halls with full board – this means, I have breakfast, lunch and dinner at the school canteen.
I assist two classes of 20 students (40 in total) and I work with Primary 1 (kids aged 5-7). Some of my responsibilities are;
- marking work
- checking their diaries
- playground and lunch duty
- preparing classroom materials
- creating presentations for the school blog
- taking/picking them up from swimming
I actually don’t speak much Spanish myself but I’ve found that I’ve picked up some words and phrases during my first 4 months here in Spain, so I feel like I can understand a little more than I did before. It also helps that the majority of my students can speak English, despite being so young.
Sometimes I teach the classes alone when the teachers are off sick or busy with some other job – this is a great opportunity for me to gain some teaching experience! After all, I’m just an assistant. But saying that, my teacher treats me like another teacher and my students give me full respect of that role.
Working with young children is rewarding and fun…they always know how to make you smile and your relationship with the students grow ever so quickly. I feel like I’ve grown closer to all of them so much and I know that they appreciate my presence (they tell me off when I am not there haha).
If you’re someone who enjoys working with children and being creative, then teaching could be the role for you. You’re not restricted to one role… you play a big part within the classroom and you’re always occupied.
Feel free to comment with any questions!