Hola from Madrid! I started my placement at the International School of Madrid two weeks ago, and so far it has been great! The school is a small private school, opened in 1971, and has about 700 students. The school has both primary and secondary education, with students from the age of three to eighteen. The school uses a British curriculum and all the classes (except language classes) are taught in English. Although the curriculum is English, the vast majority of the students are Spanish, although many come from various nationalities. I am in a classroom, called "reception," which is sort of pre-k/kindergarten. The children range from three to five years old, however most of them are four. Majority of them are Spanish, with a couple of French kids and a British boy, but all of the children's first language is Spanish. This is somewhat of a challenge for me because I only started learning Spanish in September, so I am not very good at it. This language barrier has been a struggle for me since I have been in Madrid, but since the children can understand English fairly well, I am hoping it won't pose as a huge issue during my prac. I figure it will be helpful for me to listen to their Spanish, as well as helpful for them to speak in English more frequently.
The school is fairly small, however the reception classroom is pretty large and the class has 24 students in it. My CT is named Fiona Hall, a very nice British woman. The classroom is very nice and has similar aspects to ones you might see in an American one in terms of set up. There is an area with hooks and cubbies for the students jackets and backpacks, a corner where they play with toys and legos, an area where they play house, a rug where they gather, four tables for group activities, a computer, a bathroom, and a sink. The walls have a bunch of artwork and projects that the students have made, however I took notice that there was not much literature on the walls at all. I found this interesting considering how much literature was on the walls at the school in Boston I did my pre-prac at, and how many times we have learned what an important factor this is for children (especially young ones). In addition to this, there is no library in the classroom filled with books! The only books that I have seen in the classroom are ones that are for teachers that have lessons attached (and I don't think this is because of a lack of funding). There is no reading time during the day, and I have been there twice and have not seen the teacher read to the students. Once, she "read" a book, but it was a story that was only pictures and Ms. Hall kind of just narrated it and asked the students questions about what they saw. Given that the huge importance of reading and exposure to books at a young age has been engraved into our minds through our classes, this came as a shock to me. They watch a lot of videos on youtube, and I think this is what counts as lessons. Seems insufficient to me, but it could be that I have not seen everything since I have only been there twice. And, although there is a lack of literature and reading, the students seem very intelligent and well-behaved. They are also very cute! Maybe the British curriculum just doesn't involve as strong an emphasis on reading ability? Seems crazy, but is something I will look into, and will keep an open mind as I continue observe lessons in this very different and foreign classroom!