Q&A Instituto

Another entry with questions & answers about what it’s like to work at my school. Keep the questions coming!

Q: What do your students call you?
A: They call all the teachers by their first names, or more often, “teacher” (maestro/-a). They drag out the syllables in the way that young children do when they’re talking to their parents. Moo-ooo-oo-ommm. Just like that. So if you were entertaining ideas of me being called “Miss Holland” or “Miss Kelly” – quitalos. On a side note I also just explained the use of the word “yo” in conjunction with “teacher.” My fourth years were hopping out of their seats to answer a question in class and, in their Spanglish, kept saying “yo! teacher!” They meant to say “me!” (the Spanish “yo”)… but instead it comes out sounding a bit rude. I explained (to a roomful of confused looks) the lackluster “yo, miss” and the use of “yo” in certain circles (to a chorus of giggles at my gangster accent). The Spanish equivalent is something like “oye! maestro!” or “listen, teacher.” This quickly turned into “yo, Kelly!” which they thankfully abandoned when class was over.

Q: What do you wear when teaching?
A: You can wear whatever you like to school. While no one is teaching in sweatpants (with the exception of the gym teachers) – it is a very casual atmosphere. Most teachers are in jeans and sweaters of some variety. Remember that it’s cold at my school, so we are almost always in several layers of clothing. Sneakers are not out of place, and neither are high heeled boots. I think they would be shocked to see some of the US teachers so dressed up for school.

Q: What do the kids wear?
A: Our students do not wear uniforms. We have noticed that in the city of Seville, many of the kids (old and young) are wearing uniforms. While it’s not clear if these students are in public or private schools – the trend seems to be that city dwellers are wearing uniforms and my students in the pueblo are wearing track suits. Yes, the track suit holds a place of high esteem in Bollullos culture!

Q: Are there after school activities?
A: No. This remains a mystery. There are no afterschool sports or clubs. Some of the students play instruments and many play soccer, but it is unrelated to the school. Some of the students receive tutoring, if their parents see fit, but aside from this I cannot tell if they have clubs like we so commonly do in the US. School newspaper? Choir? Band? No idea.

Q: How do the kids get to school?
A: One thing is clear – there is no big yellow school bus on the streets of Bollullos. The closest we get may be the guy with the horse and cart and the greyhounds. More often than not, my students get dropped off by their parents. This is unfortunate because we have over 400 students and if their parents all descend on our tiny street – it’s una locura. Some walk from their houses, but this is also weather dependent.

Q: What did you do for Christmas at school?
A: Somewhere in mid to late December our darling secretary hauled a cardboard box out into the hallway and I stopped to help her out. This magical box held an artificial tree with a ton of random ornaments (adornos), about 6 different colors / sizes / shapes of tinsel and some lights. We planned some Christmas activities in the classes, and the teachers held a secret santa exchange (amigos invisibles – literally “invisible friends”). There was also a Christmas lunch out at a local bodega (for approx $45USD a head, which I respectfully declined) and most awesome of all – buñuelos con chocolate for the whole school, courtesy of the PTA (or the equivalent). Then .. take a 2 week descanso.

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