5 things I never worried about when I taught in England

1: Wildlife
This winter we are told has been a perfect breeding ground for the processional caterpillar. With toxic hairs that easily take to the wind it is one of the most poisonous creatures locally. We go from caterpillar season into the summer when funnel web spiders and a variety of non-lethal but evil looking scorpions provide a playground distraction to any child armed with a stick.


Processional caterpillars

2: What’s for lunch?
Food is such an important part of Spanish culture and parents expect their children to eat all of their lunch. Lentils as a starter and fish as a main course provides a midday motivational challenge for any duty teacher. School dinners in the UK always felt like something functional, a midday fuel up to carry us through the afternoon. I’d be misleading if I suggested every day was equal. However, a day that starts with a chicken caesar salad, has a traditional Spanish rice dish such as “arroz al horno” for a main course and finishes with fresh oranges makes school dinner feel less like fuel and more like a dining experience.

Traditional Spanish rice dish

Arroz al horno – a rice dish made with pork ribs and blood sausage

3: Wind
A windy day in England meant that the children were a little more bubbly than usual. Teachers walked around with long faces muttering glib asides about animals and children “having the wind up them”.
The tiniest bit of wind in Spain puts us on tree watch. Mediterranean pines are notoriously fragile. Dry and top heavy, the slightest breeze can cause weighty branches to topple. In fact, there is a general preoccupation with weather. Rain, wind, cold and sun all bring their own concerns.

4: Food consumption
Spanish culture provides for five meals each day. A light breakfast in the morning, a mid-morning snack, lunch, an afternoon snack and a dinner are considered essential pit stops in the working day. Ensuring all the children have been provided in the main meal of the day but also in the two snacks that take place in the school day is one of the most important responsibilities of the day.

5: Buses!
Each morning 15 coaches arrive at school. Each carries up to 58 children, many of whom will be clutching notes instructing which bus route they will be taking home. Maybe they are going to a grandparents house after school, or a family house in the mountains or by the beach. Other bus changes will be telephoned in to school during the day. The task of getting over 800 children on to the right transport is a complex nightmare that somehow seems to pull perfectly together in the last few minutes of every day.

And aside from all of the above we still manage to spend focusing on teaching and learning and making sure that each of the children gets a great deal from attending our school.

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2 Responses to 5 things I never worried about when I taught in England

  1. Pingback: 5 things I never worried about when I taught in England | Living and teaching in Spain | The Echo Chamber

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