Classroom management is probably the aspect of Spanish school that is most different from that of schools in the United States. In my previous pre-practicum in Boston, my cooperating teachers definitely emphasized classroom management more so than my two cooperating teachers do here as well as other teachers in general. Since San Rafael is a school for children of infant age to 18-year-old students the classroom management, setup, and structure seems to vary widely.
In terms of one of my cooperating teachers, his classes are relatively large, at around thirty-five students, who all sit at desks in rows and the size of the class seems too big for the size of the classroom. There is a blackboard at the front of the room, which all of the student desks face, and windows along one side of the room. When the teacher enters the room he usually has to ask the students to quiet down a couple of times before they start paying attention, but after that they listen. In this English language class, students usually work from a workbook while the teacher stands up in the front of the room at the blackboard.
In a different cooperating teacher’s class, there are only seventeen students of eighteen years of age, in a classroom that is large enough sized for the class. The eighteen-year-olds in this class are the oldest students at the school and are in their last year of secondary education. According to my cooperating teacher, they are placed in this specific English class because it is the only foreign language class available that works with their schedules. My cooperating teacher has a harder time of getting this particular group to focus and to speak English instead of Spanish in class and among themselves. Students digress more easily into side conversations in their native language, Spanish, and are less willing to try and speak English than some of the younger students at San Rafael. My cooperating teacher will ask each student individually if they are digressing or speaking Spanish to try to speak in English, but the students will usually return to speaking Spanish after a few minutes.
My cooperating teacher never raises her voice at the students, but does become exasperated at times when they do not follow instructions. For example, the other day my cooperating teacher had assigned a vocabulary worksheet for homework and wanted to go over it, but only a few of the students had brought it to class. My cooperating teacher was obviously annoyed at the fact that very few people had brought it to class, but it didn’t seem like there was any expectation for the students to have the homework in class with them. Thus, she changed the lesson to conversation groups instead.
The classroom management at San Rafael is definitely different than the classroom management I have observed in previous pre-practicums, which makes the learning environments different too. Whereas in the United States I have observed the motivation to learn for many students to be a grade, in Spain the students who want to learn do so for the sake of learning. Since there is less of a focus on outcomes and result-based outcomes, students seem to care more about learning because they are interested instead of for receiving a grade. Being able to observe both conceptions of classroom management has definitely been a worthwhile experience in terms of seeing what aspects of each classroom works and which don’t.