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Adios Barcelona

It is bittersweet to be writing this final blog post because it means that I am back home in Calgary. My time participating in the TAB program has been very unique and I believe I have developed skills that will be invaluable to me as a future teacher. My last day at my TAB placement school, Leonardo da Vinci, was very emotional for me as all of the students and teachers were so kind and appreciative of my time there. A few tears were definitely shed! I one day hope to return to Barcelona and Sant Cugat and see mi familia español once again! I really enjoyed teaching ELL students and I will keep learning techniques that will help me to engage with ELLs effectively. Given the rate of ELL students in our city, the TAB program is excellent in developing these types of skills. I learned to be more multi-modal in my teaching, and also that you can never explain directions too carefully! I am beginning my practicum on Monday in a school with a high ELL population and so I am eager to utilize what I have learned.                                                                               

My home away from home                            

Some things that I will miss about Barcelona:                  

Living by the beach and going swimming all the time

Being able to go to a bunch of amazing restaurants just steps away from my front door

Menu del día! From Monday - Friday you can get a 3 course meal for between 10-18 euros (including a drink)

+20 weather!

Exploring rural towns and other cities just as little as an hour away from Barcelona

Beautiful and unique European architecture

Practicing Spanish every day

Rambunctious students!

That being said, there are many things that I have missed about Calgary and I am happy to be home to see my friends and family. Teaching abroad has been a wonderful and eye-opening experience and I highly recommend it to pre-service teachers. I have learned a lot, and developed relationships, which I wouldn't have been able to do had it not been for this program. 

                 

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Reflecting on Spain...

As my time in Spain comes to an end, I have to admit that I am very sad to be leaving so soon! My reluctance in coming back home stems from the wonderful students, teachers, and experiences that I have been exposed to here in Sant Cugat. This last week has been emotional and heartwarming for a variety of reasons, but I will begin with where I left off last time! 

Luckily, I have been able to do a bit of traveling over the past couple of weeks. It was a privilege to visit the wonderful cities of Paris and Madrid on the weekends. My time in Paris was filled with a completely different yet equally interesting culture; it was so wonderful to see the art and community of an entirely different nation. Going to Madrid was a very interesting experience as well! I have to say that the differences between Barcelona and Madrid are extremely vast, though I cannot say one is better than another. Madrid is a much newer city, yet it holds a distinct history as well. Either way, I was very happy to have been able to visit Spain´s capital while I was here. I think traveling inside Spain was an important and worthwhile experience in order to get a full conceptualization of what this country truly consists of (especially in the wake of various political happenings!). 

 The French Pantheon & Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris

Plaza Mayor, Chocolate con Churros, and the Royal Palace in Madrid

The last week of teaching has been very touching! I have to say that the kindness of my students has completely surprised me and warmed my heart. Throughout the last few days of classes, my students presented me with a very kind letter "to their favorite teacher" along with a wonderful hat and scarf to help me brave the cold when I return home. Another set of students thanked me and gave me a set of lavender bath bombs and chocolates among other gifts. Another set of students gave me a painted heart that reads "good luck" (on the left is me opening one of these). These thank-you's made me feel so special! Being here has made me realize that above all I truly love working with young adults, and my support for them is completely the inspiration behind my teaching. This experience has helped solidify my goal as a future educator to be ultimately supportive and caring towards each and every student in my class. I have such appreciation for these students and their abilities. I think that they are kind, thoughtful individuals and I believe each of them will find success in the future. Hopefully I will be able to check up on their progress from back home! 

The educators here at my school have also been completely welcoming and kind from the start. I have learned much about teaching because of them, and having their trust to lead and experiment within the classroom has really made me grow as a person. I am extremely excited to return home and begin my field experience, and yet it is extremely bittersweet. I think one of the most difficult parts about being a student teacher (and a permanent teacher too!) is that you must move forwards and leave behind the relationships with students and colleagues you have developed at the end of your term. I get a sad feeling in my gut when I think about not knowing all of the amazing things these students will accomplish after I go! 

Happiness & Silliness! 

 
However, all of these feelings confirm that I am in the right program for the right career. And while I am hesitant to leave, I am excited to start again with a new group of Canadian students next week.  
 
Adios, Spain!  

 

 

 

 
 
 

 

 

 

 

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Bye Bye Barcelona - Until we meet again...

So, it’s my final week in Barcelona and I cannot believe that it has already been two months since I arrived. This trip met all of my expectations and provided me with an opportunity to grow. It was hard, at times, to realize that the safety net that I have grown accustomed to at home was not available here. Being a Muslim woman means that I have never had the chance to live on my own and so up until this trip, the longest that I had ever been away from home was four weeks. Being here for nine weeks was a struggle and it provided me with an experience that I will never forget. Not only did I get the chance to work on my ELL teaching methods, but I also learned a few things about myself like my ability to persevere through hard situations. In the first eight weeks, I had to deal with an illness that threatened my experience in Spain. While it kept me from exploring the country in the way I had hoped I would, I was able to push through the pain, see most of Barcelona, and gain valuable experience at a rural school.

 

One thing that I will never forget is the sincerity and love that exuded from all of the teachers that I worked with here. Each member of the English department is caring and loving to each other and their students. I was lucky enough to feel some of that care and love. Our welcome was just as warm as our farewell and while I did not get a chance to work with every teacher, I developed a close relationship with all of them.

 

Of all the relationships that I developed, the strongest was with our liaison, Arancha. She worked hard to make sure that we felt welcome and a part of the team. When my illness kept me from work, she personally contacted me to make sure that I was doing okay. Her genuine concern really shocked me, as I have never had a supervisor care so much for the well being of a worker. It warmed my heart. Her care was also shown in the classroom as she supported my professional growth through a mentorship that she took on seamlessly. It was like there was no need for formalities; I became one of her colleagues immediately and she made sure that she supported me in any way that she could. The entire staff exuded the same qualities which leads me to believe that, culturally, colleagues are much more supportive and close with one another than they are in Canada. That’s not to say that our colleagues in Canada are not supportive, but having worked for much of my life, I can firmly say that the work environment in this school was much more warm and welcoming than any place I have ever worked in before.


 

I will definitely miss Barcelona and the lifestyle that comes with it. It is so incredibly different than living in Canada and I am so grateful to have had this experience. In the last week, I decided to explore Barcelona at night in an unorthodox way. In the spirit of Halloween, I decided to embark upon a “Ghost Walk” through the old neighbourhoods of Barcelona. It was probably the most “touristy” activity I had taken part in since being here. A tour guide took a group of tourists around the streets of Barcelona and shared ghost stories about certain locations. Some of the stories included the tale of young lovers, an onion farmer, and a lost traveller who narrowly escaped a brutal death. While the stories were not too scary, it was nice to explore Barcelona at night.

 

 

These last nine weeks have been interesting to say the very least. I lived away from home in a country that I had never been to and enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. It was stressful many times having to adjust to a new culture, complete course work, and teach through each week but it was worth it. I feel that I have grown in a way that I never would have if I did not take on this experience. Sure, it can be frustrating to be in a place that you know nothing about but I made it through. I contemplated coming home early because of the illness that I endured, but I am so glad that I stayed. That being said, I look forward to coming home and sharing my experiences with my loved ones. I’m not sure when, but I’ll be back in Barcelona at some point in my life. Perhaps when I’m married and have children to share the experience with. But I’ll definitely be back.

 

Xoxo,

 

Hana Kadri

 

P.S. If you’re reading this because you’re interested in taking part in the TAB program, let me tell you right now that you should. Just do it. You won’t regret it. =)

 

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My time here in Spain is quickly coming to an end and I only have a couple more days in the classroom! I couldn’t be more grateful for

my experience here and I think it has ultimately helped me to become a better teacher. For my last week here in Spain, I am trying to soak up as much as I can before I head back home to Calgary. That includes getting as much beach and sun time as possible!

Today, November 1st, is All Saint’s Day (Todos los Santos) and a holiday here in Barcelona. Cemeteries are traditionally open for longer as it is a time for people to visit and remember their lost loved ones. It is also tradition to attend church services on this day. Schools are closed, as well as many other public services and stores.

I will definitely miss the food here, and I’ve been trying as many different restaurants as I can before I leave. There’s almost 10,000 restaurants in Barcelona, so that’s no small feat! Even though I have spent two months here, I feel as if there is so much still left to see and experience. Just the other day I learned that Creme Brulees (called Crema Catalana here, which are slightly different than the French version) most likely originated in Catalonia in the 14th century. The culture and history of Barcelona is very rich and vast, and it’s sometimes overwhelming to take it all in! There are still conflicts here regarding the independence movement, but for the most part, things have settled down (at least for now). There is still much uncertainty in the region, but new elections have been called for in Catalonia next month.


I am looking forward to my last couple days in the school here, although I am sure it will be bittersweet. 

 

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Adéu Spain

My time here in Barcelona has come to an end. This has been such a great experience and I have learned so much both personally and professionally. Prior to coming here I had never travelled outside of North America, so this experience has allowed me to grow so much. Saying goodbye to the teachers and students at Rubí was bittersweet. I’m excited to return to Canada, see my friends and family, and begin my next teaching placement, but I’m sad to leave behind the amazing people I’ve met and the country of Spain. I’m definitely not looking forward to the cold weather in Canada!

While here I’ve had the opportunity to also experience both French and Italian culture. I took a trip to Paris and Rome. Both cities were incredible. It was great to see other parts of Europe and iconic landmarks that I have always dreamed about visiting. It’s interesting to see that so many people in Europe speak multiple languages. 

Over my time in Spain I have further developed my classroom management skills, lesson planning abilities, flexibility and ELL instructional skills. I previously had very little experience with ELL students, so this placement has allowed me to cultivate tactics that I can use in my future classrooms. Also, being put in situations where I don’t understand then language being spoken to me has allowed me to see things from an ELL perspective. I have a better appreciation for how ELL students might feel in a classroom when they don’t understand what people are saying. Even though I will be starting my Calgary placement a week later than most students, I feel prepared to hit the ground running. After my placement in Spain I am even more comfortable in the classroom. The experience I have gained here will be so beneficial to me as I continue to move forward in the BEd program and eventually into my teaching career.

Living in Barcelona for the past 9 weeks has been incredible. I have been pushed outside of my comfort zone and discovered how self-sufficient I can be. I have seen so many amazing buildings and landscape, tasted wonderful food, heard delightful music, and met many welcoming people. Spain is a beautiful country with a rich history, and I’m so happy that I was able to experience it.

 

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Week 7 - No signs of slowing down!

I left off my last post speaking about the Independence referendum that took place in in Spain on October 1st. Well, the aftermath of the referendum has been quite messy leading to large protests and strikes across Spain. Those for and against the independence of Catalonia made sure that their voices were heard over the last two weeks. It has been interesting to be a bystander to such a historic event, but it is hard to watch as this issue carries on. Inevitably, there will be people hurt no matter what the course of action is. While an official call for independence hasn’t been made, the President of Catalonia has until tomorrow night to decide his course of action. I am sure that most of Spain will be holding its breath.

 

On a much lighter note, in these last few weeks I have realized just how close countries are to each other in Europe. It has really made me appreciate being here and has made me, in a way, envious of the people who live here. It is quite easy to go from one country to the next or even to experience vastly different cultures within the same territory! Two weeks ago, I had the opportunity to visit a friend in Nice, France. While I was there, I got to experience French culture AND travel to Monaco and Italy in the same day. Once I traveled from one state to another in the matter of an hour when I was in the U.S. and I thought that was pretty cool. But within a day I was able to travel to three different countries all situated along the French Riviera. I jumped on a train with my passport, but I didn’t need my passport. I went from one country to another without showing my passport to anyone. That is a completely foreign idea to me. Everywhere I have ever gone, someone has asked me for some form of I.D., but not here. It is an experience that I’ll never forget and am so thankful for. On the way back from a small refugee town in Italy, we pulled into the first stop in France. Officers came on board and pulled every African and North African off the train without even asking for their travel papers. This really concerned me, but I was told that this was something that happened on every train ride. Thousands of refugees from Liberia and North African countries attempt to get into France via train after taking a boat ride into Italy. It was shocking to me, but I suppose not everyone has the freedom of movement like I have been afforded. You can’t help but be thankful for your freedom after seeing something like that.

 

While in Barcelona, I had the chance to visit Parc del Laberint d’Horta. Several famous French and Spanish architects created this classical wonder over the course of nearly 200 years. The park is a beautiful estate that once belonged to a family who graciously donated it to the city of Barcelona. It was truly a sight to behold knowing that each element of the estate was carefully crafted. The hedge maze is the main attraction here. While it is the tail end of summer and now moving into fall, the grass was not as green and the bushes and trees have begun to shed their leaves, it was still an incredible sight. There were photographers all over the park taking photos of nature, of newlyweds, and of each other for, what I believe to be, social media purposes. I am glad that I had the opportunity to visit the estate.

 

As for school, I will say that, while I have been ill and have missed a few days of teaching, I am having a difficult time adjusting to the relationship that the students have with their teachers. The students seem eager to learn and to take part in planned activities, but they continuously speak over both myself and other teachers. Initially I believed this to be because I was new and the students weren’t quite comfortable with me. But now, almost five weeks later, the students are speaking over me in class to and even higher degree. In my observations I have noticed that the teachers seem to allow this kind of behaviour, and I am not one to preach at all about how a teacher should manage their classroom and so I won’t. I have accepted that this is how the teacher-student relationship works at this school, however I have been working on my own classroom management skills and the teachers have been kind enough to give me some leeway in this department. Explaining that, culturally, in Canada students do not speak when the teacher is giving instructions or when other students are speaking. They seem to be responding well, and I have noticed that they are much less likely to talk over me when the teacher has left the room. I never wanted to be a “mean” teacher, but I realize now that I have limits to the loudness of a classroom and high expectations for the respect that students have for their teacher and fellow students. If anything, I think that this experience is preparing me to manage a classroom and that’s a skill that I didn’t expect to focus on while in Spain. That being said, the students are so bright and curious. I absolutely love the idea of being a teacher, now more than ever.  

Adios for now mi amigos! Xoxo

Love,

 

Hana K. 

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Week 7 in Spain!

Hola! 

Over the past couple of weeks, I really feel as though Spain has started to become like a second home. At last I am able to navigate the confusing streets of Barcelona without the help of a map or guidance. Other tourists often ask me for directions and I am happy to say that finally I can be of some help to them! I also feel as though I am now sharing fully the customs of Spanish life– the late dinners, the work-on-the-fly attitude, and the enjoyment of everyday life, such as the beach, the cafes, and the relaxing lifestyle. The Spanish way of life can often be fast paced– but relaxing and unwinding are a priority here too. Spain is all about the extremes. 

I have truly come to enjoy my teaching position in Sant Cugat. I have been tested in many aspects that I lacked experience in beforehand, such as behaviour management and thinking on my feet. Throughout most official U of C field experiences, you have a partner teacher with you to help control and calm down an unruly class. Here in Spain, I have the class all to myself. Therefore, I have learned some valuable lessons and techniques relating to behaviour management. I have found that positive reinforcement is an excellent tool, e.g. saying “thank-you” to students that are participating and listening to my instructions. I have also noticed that chatting loudly in class is a huge problem throughout our school. Sometimes I will have to wait more than 30 seconds before everyone in the class settles down to listen to me. Because of this, many times I have had to move “chatty” students away from their friends or have them engage with the lesson by asking them to read the instructions or examples out loud to the rest of the class. Furthermore, Spain has certainly taught me to think on my feet! Because it is the beginning of the year, the teacher schedules and class locations change often, and sometimes within a matter of days; this means that one day we may have access to a computer/projector, and the next day we may not! Because of this, I have had to learn to be well prepared and have a backup plan for my backup plans!

Wine Tasting in the Penedès
(with Montserrat in the background)

The past few weeks have also allowed me to participate in some further cultural exploration. I was lucky to attend a wine tour/tasting in Barcelona’s famous wine region: the Penedès. It is here that wonderful wines and cavas (champanges) are created. We visited 2 vineyards. One of them was an ancient castle from the 11th century, and had over 30 years of generations involved with the running of the winery. Another winery was a family run business, and we were introduced to the family themselves, who told us all about the process of becoming a wine expert. It was a day filled with yummy tapas, wine, and cava! 

I also had the opportunity to visit both Stiges (a costal town south of Barcelona, where many locals own a vacation home) and Terragona, which was the Roman capital of Spain during the 1st century. Here, I spent some time soaking up the sun at the beach (it is still a lovely 24 degrees here) and visiting some Roman ruins, such as an aqueduct and amphitheatre where gladiatorial battles took place. 



Roman aqueduct and Amphitheatre by the Sea 

Beach in Stiges 

Being in Barcelona for this extended period of time also means that I have time to visit the lesser known tourist attractions. Just outside of the main city is a royal monastery called the "Monsetir de Pedralbes" (on the left) dedicated to Santa Maria. It was founded in the early 1300's and still stands today as one of the best known and well preserved examples of Gothic architecture in a monastery anywhere in Europe! I found that it was such a peaceful experience to walk around the ancient monastery. There, the keepers of the monastery (the nuns no longer live there) have made efforts to replant a garden filed with the original herbs from the 14th century. The monastery was quiet, peaceful, and beautiful. 

Lastly, the Spain TAB participants all came together to make a wonderful traditional Canadian thanksgiving. Somehow we were able to find most of the ingredients we needed to make mashed potatoes, stuffing, vegetables… the works! I have to say that I am very grateful to have made such wonderful friends throughout this experience. Overall, I am so thankful to have been selected to participate in this program, as it has truly given me SO much extra teaching experience I simply wouldn’t have had back home in a classroom. I feel like I have improved so much as a teacher over the past couple of months, and I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world!  

Until next time, hasta luego!

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Spain in October

Wow! I can’t believe my time in Spain is almost to an end. These past 7 weeks have flown by. I have such a better understanding of how to work with ELL students. The teachers here in Rubí have given me so many great pointers that I can use in all my future classrooms.

Since last weekend was Thanksgiving, I taught my classes about Thanksgiving. Many of them had never heard about the holiday, so I was able to teach them a lot. For an activity, I put students in small groups and gave them a Thanksgiving scenario to write a script for and act out. I was really impressed with the scripts some students were able to create. Even students who seemed a bit young for the activity surprised me and were able to write and speak English very well. However, the activity was too difficult for some of the younger and lower level students, so I had to quickly think of a plan B. Now I know why teachers always say it’s important to have extra activities in mind in case things don’t work out as planned. It’s nice doing the same activity for each class throughout the week because I am able to see what works and what doesn’t work. From there I can make appropriate changes for the next class so that the activity is even better.

The Spain girls and I did our own Thanksgiving feast here in Barcelona. It was a struggle to find some of the traditional foods we wanted so we had to make a few modifications. Instead of turkey we had chicken, but thankfully I was able to find instant gravy in the grocery store. They don’t eat gravy here so I was very surprised (and relieved) to find it and not have to make it from scratch.

I also visited Mount Tibidabo last week. From the top you get beautiful views of Barcelona and the sea. The mountain has an amusement park and the Temple Expiatori del Sagrat Cor. The temple has stairs to the top which I reluctantly climbed. The views were amazing and I wanted the experience, but I’m terrified of heights. I took some pictures and got down quickly. The architecture of the temple is wonderful, as are all the churches and buildings here.

This week my students were given a treat. They were given M&M’s and told to answer the question that corresponds to the colour of M&M (ex. If you have a red M&M you would answer the question “What are your favourite hobbies?”). I was worried about bringing food into the classroom (because of allergies), so I made sure to ask if it was ok first. However, to my surprise the biggest issue I encountered was that a lot of the students didn’t even like M&M’s! I hadn’t even considered that. I assumed all kids love candy. Following the M&M activity they did a drawing activity. They described how to draw a simple picture (ex. house, cat, tree, etc.) to their partner using English (ex. “Draw a large square in the middle of your page.”).

The weather here in Spain is still so warm. I see that it’s much colder back in Canada, so I’m happy I’m able to wear shorts and go to the beach still. I’m sure my friends and family back home are jealous of the climate I’m in when looking at my pictures. I plan on spending these last two weeks soaking up as much sun and warmth as I can.

Parc del Laberint d'Horta - The maze is harder than it looks 

Vineyard outside of Barcelona

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Hola de España!

Greetings from Spain!

I am settling into life here in Spain and have enjoyed immersing myself in the Spanish culture and their way of life. I feel truly privileged to be here and participating in the TAB program, which has been an invaluable experience for me. I have been lucky enough to volunteer in three different types of classrooms: middle school (ages 12-16), high school (ages 16-18; these classes are non-compulsory), and adult students. The adult classes are for students that have decided not to do the high school route which is geared towards university, or they could also be adults that are returning to school after a number of years. In addition to the English classes the adult students take, they also attend vocational classes such as office administration. I have really enjoyed

working with adult students, and it's an experience I never expected to have back in Calgary.

As previously mentioned, formalities within the education system here are a lot more relaxed than back in Canada. Recently, I was fortunate enough to be invited to dinner by one of my adult students and her family. I have been told that in Spain, it is more common to meet with people outside of the home since people usually live in small flats, and so it is more of a "big deal" if someone invites you to your house! Needless to say, I was extremely honoured to have been invited, and I could not believe how much time and effort went into the dinner that she prepared for me. She cooked many types of traditional Spanish, mainly Andalucian, food such as salmorejo, which is a type of cold soup consisting of tomatoes and garlic, topped with bacon (or ham) and egg. One of my favourite dishes was called tortillitas de bacalao (little tortilla, or omelette, made with cod). She gave me the recipe and I attempted to make the dish the next day!

The hospitality that she and her family extended to me is something that I will never forget. I learned a lot about the Spanish culture and how they are both different and similar to us Canadians. For example, siestas used to be very common within the Spanish culture, but due to many factors such as globalization, they have become increasingly uncommon within the bigger Spanish cities since people generally work through the entire day.

Another thing that I have learned more about over the past couple of weeks is the Catalan independence movement. It has caused a lot of tension here, not only for politicians and pro-independence supporters, but even for the people who wish to remain neutral. Just a few days ago, many people rallied in Barcelona and Madrid urging for both sides to "sit down and talk" about the situation at hand. Yesterday, there was a huge rally of pro-Spain people in Barcelona that do not want Catalonia to separate. The situation is very unpredictable and nobody knows what is going to happen, which has been causing stress for the teachers and students. Regardless of where people stand on the issue, everybody here is hoping for a peaceful solution. 

 

Hasta Luego!

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A Typical Day in Spain

We have been in Spain for nearly a month and as predicted, time is going by quite quickly! 

I am really enjoying my placement in Sant Cugat. If you are a prospective TAB student looking for some real, hands on teaching experience, Spain may just be the place for you! For this blog post, I am going to go through a typical teaching day for us here in Spain. 

School begins at 8 am each day. Instead of living in Sant Cugat for the duration of our placement, we decided we would rather live in the heart of Barcelona. Because of this choice, however, we have about a 45 minute commute each day, and so we typically need to be ready and on the train by 7 am. After arriving to our train stop, we have about a 10 minute walk before reaching the school. 

Each class at our school is one hour in length, and contains anywhere from 25-37 students. As a result of this, my partner teacher secured 2 separate rooms so we can split the class in half. Each day I take one half of the students (about 15 students) into my own “classroom” and she takes the other half. After half an hour of instruction, we switch groups so that each of us has the chance to see every student that day. While the idea of being all by myself was quite daunting at first, I quickly settled into my role. Having the students to myself means that I can plan related activities/games to their current topics with my own creativity. Additionally, I can have my own “class rules” and set my own expectations with students. Typically, my partner teacher will go over the homework and textbook work, and I will plan an entertaining activity related to what they have learned. Thus far I have found success using several sources, such as Kahoot quizzes and Pinterest resources. I have also found success utilizing several activities from a TAB workshop earlier this year, as well as other sources online.I have observed that throughout the day students are often bogged down with so much coursework that they don’t have any opportunities (besides gym class) to be active in the classroom. As a result, I have attempted to include activities which involve moving around as much as possible. In general, I have found great success in transforming many drama games into ELL games based on the topics (such as irregular verbs, job applications, family descriptions, etc) that the students are learning. 


                Above: the streets of Sant Cugat

“Lunch” time is around 11 am. I use the term “lunch” because many students actually eat their breakfast during this time, and lunch after school ends, which is at 2:30 pm. During the lunch break I typically go and sit with the other teachers in the canteen, where they serve coffees and other snacks. If not, I work on some preparations in the humanities lounge. 

One interesting experience I have had so far in relation to this “lunch” period happened this week. It is a tradition at my school that each faculty plans a beautiful lunch for the rest of the staff once a month. This month they served traditional dry-cured Spanish ham sandwiches, cheese and tomato sandwiches, chips, sweets, and beverages. I will be vague to say that I was surprised at some of the beverages the teachers are allowed to have during school hours, but nonetheless it was a lovely experience. I think monthly staff lunches could enhance any school’s faculty back home! 

Monthly faculty lunch tradition 

After the break I usually have another class or two, and then I walk to the train station back to Barcelona. Typically I work 4 days a week from about 8-12:30, but I will get into why this has not always been the case below. 

As some of you i’m sure are aware, at the time of this blog post there has been immense political strife and conflict happening in not only Barcelona but all across the area of Catalonia. Last week, the Catalan population attempted to peacefully vote either for or against independence from Spain. Because the Spanish government declared the vote illegal, there was a great deal of violence and police brutality on the day of the vote. We were shocked to see images of police forcibly throwing people out of polling stations, while confiscating all of their votes. Throughout October 1st, many innocent people were hit with police batons and rubber bullets as the Spanish police cracked down on those trying to vote. While being here, it has been impossible not to notice the tension rising. It is very easy to find oneself turning a corner here in Barcelona and seeing or finding yourself stuck in the middle of a protest. Of course these protests are very peaceful, but the political situation here is extremely prevalent. 

One interesting thing that has occurred as a result of this political strife is related to my students. Twice now the students have actually gotten permission slips from their parents to “strike” away from school. Essentially, the entire school’s student population will not show up occasionally to school to protest the way the Spanish government has conducted their affairs. I find this extremely interesting because back home, it is much more likely and accepted for a teacher to go on strike than a student. 

So not only does this political situation affect life in Barcelona, but life in Sant Cugat too. I have also learned a variety of new phrases because of the protests, such as a “Cacerolazo” which means “a typical protest done by making noise by banging pots, pans, and other utensils in order to call for attention.” Almost every single night here in Barcelona at 10 pm, people run out to their balconies and bang pots and pans against each other and cause as much noise as possible. This is in response to their calls for independence, and while it can be quite loud I find it extremely interesting. 

           

  A typical protest in Barcelona             

Finally, I will speak a little about something called La Merce festival, and the infamous “Carrefoc” or “fire run.” La Merce is Barcelona’s most popular festival, and while you are here you can see parades, dancers, concerts, and other events happening all weekend. However, by far the most interesting aspect of this festival is the Carrefoc that occurs. Essentially one of the main streets in Barcelona closes down, and all the “devils” are released. Each one of these devils carries a giant sparkler that fizzles and cracks and sprays fire everywhere. For the most part the sparklers are harmless, but if they hit your scalp they can definitely hurt (I know first hand)! Locals and visitors run quickly through the streets and through the sparklers. It was a truly amazing and unique tradition to participate in!

The chaos of the Carrefoc

A fire breathing devil at the Carrefoc

And that is all for now, adios! 

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The excitement never ends...

Hola mi amigos!

The La Mercé festival is unlike anything that I have ever experienced. The festivities were all over the city of Barcelona and people were everywhere. There were concerts, plays, and evening parades for 3 nights. The only other festival that I’ve ever really experienced was the Calgary Stampede and both festivals bring out an innate culture within the city and invite thousands of visitors to take part. The annual festival has taken place since 1687 and is a celebration of the Virgin of Grace otherwise known as Mare de Déu de la Mercè, patron saint of the archdiocese of Barcelona, and co-patroness—along with Saint Eulàlia—of the city. Some of the most amazing pieces of art that I have ever seen came in the form of paper maché giants. These giants were quite massive and were a part of the opening parade. Thousands of locals and tourists lined the streets to watch the procession of giants make their way through the city.

 

 

The most exciting element of the La Mercé festivities was the Carrefoc also known as the Fire Run. Hundreds of festival volunteers light up giant sparklers and those who dare run under these sparklers. It was exhilarating and beautiful at the same time. Initially I was worried that I would get burned but as I continued down the road and through the different sparklers, all I could think of was how beautiful it looked. People were laughing and dancing and I couldn’t help but catch their contagious attitudes. All the while, drumming squads were keeping the crowds going with amazing beats for hours on end. The skills that these drummers had were absolutely amazing and something that I’ve never heard before. Mind you, with the drumming and the sounds of the sparklers my hearing may have been compromised for a few hours but it was worth it.

 

 

School has been amazing. The students are so incredibly receptive and willing to learn in a way that I’ve never seen before. As the teacher, you are the expert in the room no matter who you’re teaching. When you’re teaching a language, there is a different level of attention that you receive from the students. You have a skill that the students are very interested in learning and so far they haven’t disappointed. I am really surprised with the level of English of each class I teach. Our liaison explained that some students have very low English skills, but even though students exceeded my expectations. By no means would I consider their English skills to be low. Perhaps the standard of expectations here is much higher than our own in Canada.

 

  

I cannot believe that we are almost half way through our time here. In no time, I’ll be done and heading back home for the start of practicum. It’s hard to sometimes break out of the fantasy that is Barcelona and remind myself that I have other duties back home. This last weekend my friends and I had the chance to meet the Associate Dean International at the Werklund School of Education, Dr. Colleen Kawalilak. Learning about the origins of TAB and the desired growth of the program really warms my heart. I can truly say that I have never experienced anything like this before. Being in another part of the world and using my skills to the help students learn English is something I never thought I’d ever have the chance to do. Teaching Across Borders has provided me with a life-changing opportunity, one that I hope that many other students can experience also. If you, the person reading this, happens to be someone looking for a worthy cause to support, Teaching Across Borders is it. Not only are you giving our students a chance to gain invaluable experience, but you are affording students across the globe a chance to learn from Canadian pre-service teachers. And if you are a student looking to make up your mind about applying to the program, DO IT. You will not regret it.

 

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that today, October 1st, was a historic day for the people of Catalonia and of Spain. The Referendum for Independence was held today and the Spanish government was not happy about it. I hope that a peaceful solution can be made for the people in this area.

 

That’s all for now! Adios =)

 

Much Love,

 

Hana K.

 

 

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Three weeks in Barcelona

I've been living in Barcelona for about three weeks now and it has been an immensely enjoyable experience. I'm trying to immerse myself in the Catalan culture and have enjoyed doing things that local people do. The Spanish cuisine is amazing and I have enjoyed trying to recreate some of the dishes I've tried in restaurants at home! This past weekend was La Merce, a Catalan festival that is celebrated by all of Barcelona. There are a variety of activities which include concerts, dancing, human towers, parades, fire runs, fireworks, and to top it off, all of the festivities are free! A number of museums are also free to the public as well on Sunday and Monday. I have to say that La Merce is probably my favourite festival and I hope to come back and experience it again. If anyone plans on visiting Barcelona in the future, I would highly recommend to do so during this festival!

   

I have only spent a short amount of time in the school here thus far as school did not begin for students until the third week of September. However, during my short time here, the students and teachers alike have been warm and welcoming to me and my fellow TAB cohorts. The school itself is relatively small for Calgary standards and has about 500 students from junior high and high school. The school system here is a bit different than in Canada as most students will "graduate" at the age of 16. However, there are then two more years of studies for students who wish to attend university. Those who do not wish to attend university can attend vocational training which is geared towards a specific job, or cease studying altogether. This is similar to other systems throughout Europe. There is also a larger emphasis on exams here than in Alberta, and most students I have talked to here do not enjoy the amount of exams that they have to complete. Desks are mainly in singular rows or in pairs. Students also tend to have a lot of homework, but in general they like going to school to see and hang out with their friends, similar to students in Canada. I am told that everyone in Spain studies English, so most studies have a fairly good grasp of what I'm talking about, although I think they have to get used to my accent! I think it's very beneficial for them to speak in English with me, as they don't get a lot of that conversational practice. I studied Spanish for two years in university, and although I understand much of the grammar, I have very little practice actually speaking the language. And so I think the situation is similar for them in that they have a lot of knowledge about English, but aren't entirely confident about how to go about using it in conversation. I am enjoying planning activities in which they can engage with their classmates in English!

All in all, I am enjoying my time here, and I am looking forward to spending more time in the school here!

The soccer field. All of the students were shocked that I didn't know who Messi was!

The computer lab

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3 Weeks in Spain

Bon dia!

I have been living in Barcelona for about three weeks now, and I can’t believe how quickly time has gone by! So far I have experienced a multitude of fabulous art, architecture, food, and culture while I have been living here in Spain. 

Luckily, our official start date for teaching didn’t begin till the 18th of September. This gave us a lot of free time to explore the city and surrounding areas of Barcelona. We have visited a variety of sights throughout the past few weeks, including many churches such as the Catedral de Barcelona, Santa Maria del Mar, and the famous Sagrada Familia, of course. The juxtaposition between old and new is fantastic here, with medieval gothic buildings right beside modernist ones from the early 20th century. I have been fortunate enough to see a wide range of sights while being here, such as the Picasso museum, a flamenco show, the beach, and the Camp Nou stadium (where FC Barcelona plays) just to name a few. Barcelona seems to have it all!

Camp Nou Stadium 

Park Güell

I have also been fortunate to discover the outskirts of Barcelona, including the wonderful mountain called Montserrat. On top of the mountain is a spectacular Benedictine abbey founded in 1025. I also took a day trip to discover many of the medieval villages surrounding Barcelona, including Besalú, Tavertet, and Rupit. It was fascinating to see the tiny streets made (in some cases) over 600 years ago. The villages were unlike anything found in Canada, as absolutely no cars could pass through the tiny roads. 

View from Montserrat

View from Montserrat

Benedictine abbey at Montserrat

Medieval village of Besalú

Before traveling to Barcelona, I had no idea how truly important the Catalan culture is to those that live here. Most of the people here speak Catalan and Spanish, and the Catalan traditions and celebrations are extremely important to the people of Barcelona. While we have been here, there has been a very important political referendum happening. Many people throughout the streets have a flag with the word “Sí” (Yes) written upon it. This signifies that the person wants to have a referendum vote for independence. You can see these flags everywhere, on balconies, on buildings, and people even carry them everywhere they go! The Catalan government has scheduled a vote for independence on October 1st. However, the Spanish government is against the vote. If they vote to separate, Catalonia hopes to become its own country independent of Spain. It will be very interesting to see what happens throughout my placement politically, and I can’t help but be reminded of Canada’s similar Quebec referendum of 1995. 

The flag of Catalonia 

The school I am currently teaching at is located in a smaller city just outside Barcelona called Sant Cugat. Sant Cugat has a population of about 88,000 people, most of which speak Catalan. Overall I am finding many similarities to schooling back home, but many differences as well. For example, the classrooms, gymnasium, lunchroom, and library are all very similar to their counterparts back home. One difference is that many Spainish teachers often go by their first name instead of their last. The students call me “Sydney” and other teachers by their first names as well. The typical Spanish school day goes from about 8-2:30, with a small break for a snack in between. In Spain, many businesses and other services have a “siesta time” where they will close for the later afternoon, often from 3-6pm. Famously, one is supposed to have an afternoon nap during the siesta, which is awesome! 

Most of the students in Sant Cugat have proficient conversational English. English is a compulsory subject for most students, so they have been learning it all their lives. I was surprised to learn that the majority of my students have private English tutors at home or attend private English academies to advance their abilities. To many students, having an understanding of English means an opportunity to watch popular tv series and films in their original formats, as well as be able to speak and work with almost anybody in the world. Many students see this as an important opportunity and take the class very seriously. 

IES Leonardo da Vinci, my school 

The school library 


And that’s all for now! 

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Hola from Spain! - Barcelona in Two Weeks!

Hola mi amigos!

So it has been two weeks since I arrived in Spain. It has been an eye opening experience. And yet, it seems so familiar. The humidity, the warm air, the smell of the Mediterranean Sea.

...I feel like I'm in Beirut again. The people are so sweet and helpful and clearly passionate about their culture. Everywhere you go, there is a Catalan flag hanging from balconies or people walking around hoisting the flag above their heads. The pride of the people in this area is inspiring and I'm glad to be here at such an important time in Catalan history. The plan is that a referendum will be held on October 1st to determine if there is enough support amongst the people to separate Catalonia from the rest of Spain. Of course there is much opposition to the idea in the Spanish government, but the people here are so determined to begin a new chapter. In my first week here, I stumbled upon a rally right outside of city hall. There were hundreds of people holding Catalan flags. It was an incredible site to behold.

Besides taking an interest in the politics going on here, I’ve gotten the opportunity to take in the culture, the food, and most importantly the architecture. The culture is beautiful, another thing that reminds me of Beirut. The people are relaxed, as if stress is something that doesn’t exist. I mean I’m sure that everyone has some sort of stress, but you would never be able to tell. I mentioned in my first post that I was curious about what the people would be like. I was worried about how they would treat a hijab wearing woman so shortly after a horrendous terrorist attack. To be honest, everyone has been amazing. Just recently I looked up and found a beautiful up on a balcony. It read "No a la Islamophobia."

Last week, I got to take in an authentic Flamenco show. First off, the venue that the show was in was awe-inspiring. The architecture throughout the theatre looked amazing and was a great setting for what would be a beautiful show. The strength and power in the movements and the music was absolutely breathtaking. What was so amazing was that the women in the show were so much more powerful than the men. Perhaps it was the elaborate dresses that they wore throughout, each more beautiful than the last.

The food is lovely; although very different than the food you would eat in Canada. The cuisine is lovely, but it’s the portions that have got me intrigued. Every restaurant that I’ve been to serves tapas; small food portions is clearly a cultural attribute of this area. I had no idea that it was a part of the culture. The food itself is quite delicious. I’ve had pizza, pasta, paella, and potatoes! Not so good for my diet but incredibly delectable.

The architecture is like nothing that I’ve ever seen before. Everything from the Park Guell to the Sengrada Familia has been absolutely breathtaking. These Spanish landmarks have introduced me to an amazing architect and a popular Spanish artist: Antoni Gaudi. He is widely known in Spain and around the world for his contributions to the modernist era of architecture.

His work is phenominal; it’s like nothing that I’ve ever seen before. His attention to detail is so obvious especially after learning that the building and construction of the Sengrada Familia began in 1886 and will not be completed until 2026. His vision was so far ahead of his time that even with the technology we have today the final product wouldn’t be completed for at least another 9 years.

The language has been an interesting learning curve for me. For some reason, I seem to be mixing up my French words for Spanish and it’s something that I’m working on. However, I am picking up some phrases here and there. An incredibly useful phrase has been “una bolsa por favour” meaning “one bag please”. When I go shopping, if I forget to bring my own bags, I have to ask the cashier for them. You don’t realize that the simple lingo that you use at home is so incredibly important. At school, we aren’t allowed to speak Spanish or Catalan. Because we are English teachers, they have asked us to resist using Spanish phrases or Catalan for the students’ sake. Learning a new language can be overwhelming, but I suppose complete immersion with a non-Spanish or Catalan speaker is a great way to speed up the process. The students are fabulous. I taught my first class on this week and the students were so incredibly receptive, that is after I cracked a few jokes that they understood. One thing is for sure: humour is a universal icebreaker.

I’m looking forward to developing my teaching skills while learning more about the students in my classrooms. My experience in Spain has been fabulous so far and I know that it’s only going to get better! There is still so much that I haven’t seen or experienced in this amazing country and I hope that I’ll have the opportunity to branch out even more than I have.

Adios for now.

Amor de España,

Hana K <3 

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My First Two Weeks in Barcelona

Hola!

I have been in Barcelona for about two weeks now, and I am already in love with this city. There are so many beautiful things to see and wonderful things to do. The past two weeks have been so jam packed with activities that I have already crossed many things off my to-do list. One thing of note that I thoroughly enjoyed was the Flamenco show I attended. The performance was held in The Gran Teatre del Liceu which on its own is a site to see. The performance was an incredible fusion of traditional Spanish music, singing and dance.

Park Güell

The Gran Teatre del Liceu

The view from Montserrat

La Sagrada Família

Attending my first football game

Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya

Part of the reason I have been able to see so many sights and do so many activities is because school didn’t start in Barcelona until yesterday, September 14, and I won’t be starting in the school until the following week. That being said, I was able to visit the school and meet with our liaison. The school is located in Rubí, Spain which is a smaller city (population of approximately 75,000) located about an hour commute outside of Barcelona. It was interesting to see the difference between Rubí and Barcelona. Rubí appears to be not as populated by tourists, and as a result I did not encounter as many English speakers during my brief time there. I will be teaching at a middle/high school which will be an interesting experience since my specialization is elementary. However, having this opportunity to work with older students will be a great way to expand my skills. In Spain, schooling is compulsory only until age 16, so if students wish to continue on to post-secondary, they can continue their high school education for ages 17 and 18. Our liaison informed us that the school (and city) is filled with working class individuals. A lot of the students at the school are newcomers to Spain from various regions such as Morocco and South America. As some of you may know, Barcelona natives usually speak either Spanish or Catalan. The school I will be teaching at instructs in Catalan only. Therefore, some of the newcomers who may already be familiar with Spanish need to learn Catalan to participate in their classes. Just like the rest of us, I will be assisting with the English classes in the school. The students have varied abilities, so that is something I will need to keep in mind when preparing activities.

I’m excited to explore more of Barcelona and Rubí to learn more about this incredible country. I also can’t wait to meet the students and begin teaching.

Adiós!

 

 

 

 

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First Days in Barcelona

After a few weeks of hostel living around Europe, I am finally settling into my host city and couldn't be more grateful to be spending two months in this gorgeous country. Before I arrived in Barcelona, I was fortunate enough to visit a few other regions in Spain, which included towns and cities in Andalucia, Cuenca, and coastal Catalonia. I never realized that Spain has such a rich history, and I hope to learn much more about their past in these upcoming months. I was very lucky to be able to visit Alhambra in Granada and I highly recommend for everyone to visit this world heritage site. Alhambra was constructed by the Moors in the 13th century and was a huge royal palace. It also sits on top of a hill, surrounded by high walls, which was for defensive purposes. Another aspect I enjoyed about traveling in small towns is that English is less widely used than here in Barcelona. This gave me the opportunity to really engage in conversations in only Spanish which is extremely important for language learning! It was very challenging to get through conversations when I didn't know certain vocabulary or verb tenses. However, without being able to revert back to English when I struggled really pushed me to make myself understood in Spanish. These experiences reflect how it can be challenging to learn English in a classroom where everyone speaks Spanish; if you don't know the English word, then you can simply say it in Spanish to be understood by your classmates. In this aspect, I can see how the TAB program can be immensely beneficial for our Spanish students as they won't have that same level of flexibility with us Canadian teachers. I really hope they're able to learn a lot from us!

School doesn't start until later here in Barcelona, but I am anxious to begin teaching! I have been reading the blog posts from others who have already started to teach in their host cities and it appears to be an immensely enjoyable and valuable experience for both parties. I believe it will be a very rewarding experience for me personally since I am interested in possibly teaching English abroad after my program at Werklund is complete. In the meantime, I will familiarize myself with the local surroundings and continue practicing my Spanish with the locals!

Hasta Luego!

Ronda, Spain

The gardens at Alhambra

Islamic Scripture in the Alhambra

Hanging Houses in Cuenca

Valencia, Spain

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Spain Aspirations - Expanding my horizons =D

So tomorrow, I'm heading to Spain. It will be the first time that I step foot in a European country beyond the confines of an airport. There is no doubt that I am excited about the aspect of travelling to Spain, but I am also nervous about the time that I spend there. This leads me to my first aspiration: to test the climate of the local people's view of Muslims. With recent tragic events that have been unfairly attached to my religion, one can understand if people have a hesitation to accepting my presence. While I am only exposed to what the media has said about the terror attacks and the following show of solidarity amongst people in Spain, I wonder what the feel is like on the ground beyond the cameras. I am only one person but I hope that I can be an example of the billions of Muslims around the world who are loving and peaceful beings. By that same token, I hope to take in the historical aspects of Spain and it's connection to Islam.

But enough about what I'll do for the people of Spain (I don't mean for that to sound conceited at all)! I'm going to a beautiful country with an amazing culture. Two months certainly is not enough time to really take in the ambiance of such a historically rich nation. As I mentioned, Islam has strong ties to Spain and this is but one part of the history that I hope to experience. The culture shock will go one of two ways, (1) I will have a difficult time adjusting to the Spanish way of life and spend more time trying to understand the cultural norms or (2) The culture will be incredibly similar to the culture of Lebanon and I'll spend my time making comparisons to my time spent in my home country. 

And finally, I aspire to be a strong advocate and ambassador for the University of Calgary by constantly learning and applying my teaching skills. I am fully aware of how fortunate I am to be heading to Spain to gain teaching experience and I plan on making the absolute most of it. It is amazing just how many of my fellow classmates wished that they had applied to TAB, and with just one shot to apply, I got lucky. I got lucky with my placement, I got lucky with my fellow TABers, it just seems that luck is on my side. I hope that this is a trip that I can tell my future students about in order to inspire them. That will only happen if I make the most of this journey. So far it's been pretty awesome. 

This will be the longest time that I have ever spent outside of Canada for one trip. The experiences that I'll take part in with my fellow TABers will be amazing because I am going into this with as positive of a mind set as I possibly can. My roommates are amazing people, the city is going to be amazing, I know that I am going to love it. I leave tomorrow. Wish me luck ;)

xoxo - Gossip Girl....kidding.....Hana K. 

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See you soon, Barcelona!

Almost one week ago, I departed Calgary for Florence, Italy. The past week has been filled with great food, beautiful art, and a wonderful plunge into the Tuscan lifestyle. However, the time soon approaches that I will be heading to Barcelona, where I will begin my teaching journey. 

I have many aspirations for this program going forward. Naturally, I am extremely excited to immerse myself in the Catalan way of life. I am very curious about the culture of Spain, including gaining an understanding of the values and histories that contribute to a Catalan identity. In the wake of the most recent terror attacks, I am expecting to see the resilience I hear this country is famous for. 

Relating to my own preparation as a pre-service teacher, I am very interested to learn about the schooling system in Spain. I assume there will be many differences (and similarities) to schools back home, and therefore I am excited to learn and integrate new ideas into my future pedagogy. In general, I am very focused on learning about the challenges ELL students face. Learning a new language can be an extremely difficult endeavour, and working with Spanish students will help me to understand much about ELL students when I arrive back home. I am particularly interested in learning new strategies to help ELL students, including resources and techniques. I am certain the teachers and liaisons I will be working with will be able to provide much depth in this area. 

In general, I aspire to say “yes” to all of the experiences I can while I am away. Going out of my comfort zone will help me to better understand both the people of Barcelona as well as my students. I am ready to immerse myself and try many new and different things.


See you soon, Barcelona!

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TAB Aspirations

I can’t believe that I will be heading to Spain in just two days! It still doesn’t feel real yet. I think it will finally sink in once I land in Barcelona.

In the meantime, I need to brush up on some more Spanish. That being said, one of the things I hope to gain from this experience is the ability to speak Spanish or Catalan. I would love to become fluent in one or the other, but I doubt I will achieve that goal in 9 weeks, so I would be happy with just expanding my ability and confidence in those languages.

I’m also hoping this adventure will allow me to become more confident in the classroom. The extra teaching experience will hopefully allow me to further develop my skills and abilities that I can use in my future field placements and teaching jobs. Working in a classroom where I don’t speak their language fluently and they don’t speak my language fluently will push me out of my comfort zone and challenge me. Out of that uncomfortableness and challenge I can grow both professionally and personally.

Both the environments inside and outside of the classroom will also provide me with meaningful insight and perspective when it comes to dealing with ELL students. In the classroom, I will gain a better understanding of the struggles students face when using a language that is not their first. I will also see things from their perspective when I am out and about in Spain trying to carry on with my day and communicate in a language I barely know. I’ll hopefully gain insight and a deeper appreciation for the struggles that ELL students face in the classroom.

My final aspiration for this trip is to experience as much as I can. I want to get out and explore Europe and really immense myself in the Spanish culture. I plan on being open to the opportunities and experiences that come my way. I hope that when I return to Calgary I will have so much to talk about and many memories to share from my time in Spain.

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Getting back into the Rhythm of Canadian Schools

I cannot believe how quickly time keeps passing. It feels like I just got back into Canada yesterday, but really I have been back for three weeks and teaching in my field placement for two weeks. As I continue to think back and reflect on my experience in Spain I cannot express enough gratitude for the experience I have gained from Teaching Across Borders. I know that my confidence as a teacher has grown exponentially since completing this experience. From the wonderful teachers I had the opportunity to get to know and work with, to the students who made each lesson a success, I would like to express my gratitude and appreciation. Without the guidance of the teachers, I would have struggled to create lessons with strong outcomes for the students to improve their English speaking abilities. The student’s enthusiasm and willingness to participate in each lesson made going to school fun and exciting. Their participation made me appreciate the impact I could have as a teacher, even in such a short time. Seeing their growth in their confidence to use English made me feel I made an impact.

As I have come into my new placement in Calgary, I cannot help but look back on what I have gained from Spain and reflect on what I am now bringing into my new placement. I know I have gained a lot of confidence as a teacher which has enabled me to enter into a new classroom setting and adapt into their routines. I also feel greater confidence in bringing new ideas and lessons into the classroom, because as I saw in Spain, trying new and different things can ignite different students to engage with learning in new and different ways. When I look to plan for my future placements I remind myself of how much the students I worked with learned from engaging in fun and simple activities. They may view these activities as games and this allows them to engage with the material in ways which are new and exciting. If I can bring anything back from TAB and Spain, it is knowing that students can learn an immeasurable amount if they are engaged and enjoying what they are learning. In my own practice I hope that I can make student learning less about memorizing facts and more about authentically engaging with ideas, problems and solutions so that they are able to engage in deep learning and prepare themselves for the world they will enter in as adults.

To everyone involved in TAB, thank you for making this experience unforgettable. From this experience I know I am able to do anything, as long as I have the support and strength in myself. I cannot wait to see where my next adventure takes me, whether it be near or far I know there is much to learn and explore.

Adios amigos!

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