The word “placement” may seem daunting to some yet exciting to others. What’s great is that Undergraduate students are offered two opportunities in which you have to fight for (just like you would when you apply for a job) – a study and/or a work placement. The beauty of having choices and options is that you get to find something that is suitable to you, something that you enjoy doing and perhaps wish to pursue as your future job. Some students prefer to work, some prefer to study, some want to do both.
And me? I chose to work.
I’ve been working as a Grade 1 Primary (5-6 y/o) TA (teaching assistant) for over three months now here in Madrid and I’d like to give a closer insight on A Day In A Life of a Placement Student!
Wake up call and get ready for work.
09:15–11:am ; first period
I arrive at work for 09:15am and begin working.
After greeting other teachers and my students, I assign a ‘captain of the books’. The students read English books every morning, either individually or in pairs and I sit with as many of them as I can to listen to them read and to offer support. From the first day I started, I’ve been able to see each student’s capability in reading, writing, speaking in English. To this day, three months on, I can see much improvement by majority of my students. Hearing my students speak, read and write more and more English to me everyday is beyond rewarding.
11:00am–11:30am ; break time
Break time is when I get to grab a snack and drink from the staffroom and hangout with the other GAP students here. Sometimes I work my break and carry on with any videos or worksheets I have to work on.
Every Wednesday, I have duty. I am on playground duty during break time and second break too. I watch over the students along with another teacher and deal with any problems or conflicts that occur on the playground – which is usually the case of one student not wanting to play with the other.
11:30am–12:30pm ; second period
12:30pm-14:00pm ; lunch break
Usually, at 12:30pm, I take the class over to the dining hall and make sure they all sit down and eat their lunch.
From 12:30-13:00pm, I pour the students’ drinks, I make sure they are eating their lunch (some kids are very picky) and I help them with their change over. Honestly, it is a little tiring running up and down the tables making sure everyone is OK and hearing my name get called constantly gives me a headache (the students have to get permission to change their dish).
13:00pm-14:00pm is my lunch. I eat at 13:00pm and I usually go back to my room after I’ve eaten to relax. Living just 5 minutes away from your workplace is very convenient.
Every Thursday, I teach English to two primary students during my lunch break – one aged 8 and one aged 11.
14:00pm–16:00pm ; third period
In this period, the students sometimes have other subjects such as music, art, swimming.
16:00pm-16:30pm ; final break
The students get a further half an hour break at 4pm because their school day begins at 09:15am and ends at 5:15pm. This is quite an unusual time period for a normal school day but I guess it’s because SEK is a private school! The students get a snack which is normally a sandwich, chocolate or fruit.
16:30pm–17:00pm ; last period
The last half hour is normally tidy up time where the class ends and there’s a small re-cap on what has been learnt throughout the day. The students take quite a while to tidy up after themselves so that pretty much takes up the entire half hour!
17:00pm-17:30pm ; bus route
On Mondays, I finish work at 5:30pm because I take the kids to ruta (bus route) after school ends and my job is to keep an eye out on them whilst they get picked up by their specific teachers. The system is strange but it works.
20:00pm ; dinner
I have dinner with my colleagues (other GAP students) at the school dining hall everyday. All meals are provided – breakfast, lunch, dinner. This gets a little repetitive so sometimes I go out to the city or a nearby town to eat.
Most days I finish at 16:00/16:30pm but on Mondays I finish at 17:30pm. To keep myself occupied, I have taken up tennis lessons at the University next door to work. I go to tennis class every Tuesday and Thursday at 18:30pm-19:30pm. On the weekends, I travel out to Madrid or try and make a day trip to another city.
Any type of placement is not a restriction – especially if you are doing it abroad. It’s really important to do as much as you can whilst you’re out there; meet new people and travel to new places.
Doing a placement abroad or any placement is a huge challenge. You must be brave and have a lot of courage to complete it. It’s a new and different experience that takes time getting used to. Yes, it is tons of fun and offers you so much…but there are also minor struggles such as being homesick. Living in another country and getting used to its culture plays a big part. You must be open to trying new things.