Cultural Awareness

I only have one more day of school at RMSI in Barcelona. It is somewhat bittersweet. I have truly loved being in the classroom here, and am extremely sad to leave my 6th grade girls; however, I am excited to return home, and get back to normalcy. By normalcy, I mean the way of life I am used to in America. The culture in Spain—though somewhat similar to the United States, is very different from the culture in America.

Through this experience of International Student teaching I have been given the opportunity to be immersed into the Spanish culture. The school is a Spanish school, I live with a Spanish host family, I have constantly been around people who speak Spanish and Catalan instead of English. This experience has taught me so many different things about the Spanish culture, and one of those lessons is that the Spanish culture has a major impact on the school environment.

In my last post, I mentioned a few characteristics and differences between American and Spanish schools. Many of the characteristics that I listed as being a difference are shaped by the culture in Spain. For instance, I mentioned that the school and the students are much louder than American schools. I feel as if in order to be heard by anyone I have to yell over everyone else. The reason for the school and the classroom being so loud is due to the fact that when Spanish people speak to one another, they are generally speaking quite loudly.

In Spain, people are very serious about not over working yourself, and taking many breaks throughout the day. In the school setting, the students have multiple times where they are able to go outside and play, or they have an opportunity to take a break. This is something that I have really enjoyed. In America, teachers usually get to have an hour long planning period. In Spain, the teachers get a planning period, and they also get a period to go to the teacher’s lounge and eat a snack. The lunches in Spain are nearly 2 hours long so that students and teachers have time to relax before going back to work. The Spanish people take their breaks very seriously.

In Spain people eat much later. My host parents typically will not eat dinner until 9 or 10 o’clock. The culture in Spain is to eat throughout the day, and have a late dinner before going to bed. This is something that I have not truly gotten used to, and I will typically eat around 8 with my host kids, because they eat earlier than their parents do. Since people in Spain are used to eating later this means that the lunch in school is not until 1:30.

Overall, the culture in Barcelona is very westernized, but there are quite a few things, as I have listed, that are different. I think that I will miss some of those differences, but I am ready to return to America.

Shown below is a picture of my class with the Red Towels that I brought them. The girls LOVED waving their red towels!IMG_4013


A Day in a Spanish School

Well, week two is complete here at RMSI in Barcelona. I have learned so much this week. I have a great mentor teacher, Mrs. Mary, who has been very encouraging and helpful during my time at RMSI. I am placed with 6th grade girls, and I teach with Mrs. Mary in English, Science, and Art classes. Before arriving in Spain I assumed that I would really only be in English classes, but that has not been the case. I have already taught a couple of Science and art classes, which has been quite interesting since my certification is in Language Arts and Social Studies. However, I love my girls, and the environment of the school!

There are most definitely some differences between American public schools and RMSI. For starters the school I am placed at is a Private school, and the students pay tuition to attend. Almost all of the students walk to and from school every day; there are not school buses to drop the students off. There is security in the schools such as the doors remaining locked throughout the day, but students can walk home for lunch, and the parents wait outside the school to pick up their kids; there is no real system in place as far as who can or cannot pick up the kids. Also, all of the kids get to take breaks to go outside and play throughout the day. There is time for students to play before school, playground time, and after lunch. Once students begin middle school in America, there is no time for recess and the students stay in class all day. I think having the playground time eliminates a lot of behavioral problems in the school. The students also stay in their classrooms, and the teachers come to them for class. So the teachers are switching classes. This was the strangest thing to me, because in middle schools in America, the students switch and the teachers have a set room which they stay in. The students are also much louder in Spain, and there is not a set way to handle discipline here, Mrs. Mary will just send girls out to the hallway if they are being a major distraction, but nothing further happens from that. The school, teachers, and students are also much more relaxed in Spain than they are in America.

I have also witnessed that kids across the globe are virtually the same. A 6th grade student in Spain, behaves just like a 6th grade student in America. All of the students love to play with slime, and I have had to confiscate it in both countries. But PTL fidget spinners have not made it to Spain yet! The middle school girls in Spain love to wear chokers just as much as the middle school girls in America. The kids love to listen to the same music, and talk about the same kinds of topics. I have found it to be very interesting to see the similarities in the students, even when the atmosphere of the school and country is different.

Life is certainly a little different in Spain, and from what I have seen this does play out in the school system. However, the way things run here in Spain work REALLY well. There are quite a few things that I would love to see schools in America incorporate, but I do not think that they would actually work as well in American in schools.

I love being here at RMSI and in Barcelona. This pas week in addition to be able to teach multiple lessons, and get to know my students more, I was able to attend a Barcelona Fútbol game and see Rome. This past week has been a blast, there are some pictures below so you can see some of my adventures.


Hello Barcelona!

We have almost completed week one of our time here in Barcelona. This week has been simply amazing. We arrived in Barcelona on Tuesday around 9 a.m., and we were exhausted from our 14 hour trip. When we arrived in Barcelona our host families met us at the school where we are teaching, and took us home to rest up. Later that day we had an orientation meeting, where we met our mentor teachers, and were given our weekly schedules. I was placed in a 6th grade girls classroom, and I already love this class so much! Day 2 was when the adventure really started, as we began teaching at RMSI. I have already learned so much, and am very excited to work with the Students here in Barcelona.

I have the pleasure of staying with a host family while I am here in Barcelona, and they are the sweetest. I was welcomed with open arms, and they have been so helpful in helping me adjust to the culture here in Spain. There are two children in my family, Pía and Luis. Luis LOVES fútbol, and Pía enjoys playing volleyball. My host parents are very excited for me to be here, and for me to tutor the children in English. Tutoring has been interesting so far. Luis is learning his alphabet, and Pía prefers to speak Spanish. However, I have found that just having conversations with the children in English has been effective, and reading with Luis is something that he enjoys; Pía, not so much. I am looking forward to building a relationship with my host family over the course of the next two weeks.

Barcelona is absolutely beautiful! I have had the opportunity this weekend to explore the city with some of the other student teachers, and it has been a blast. On Friday night we went to Parc Güell, and we were able to take in some amazing views and figure out how the public transportation worked. We also ran into more of the student teachers there, and two other WKU students who are currently studying abroad. On Saturday, we explored the city center, Gothic center, La Rambla, and the Sagrada Familia. I have been blown away by the beauty in all of these places, but I have to say that none are as beautiful as the Sagrada Familia. Learning about Gaudi, and the history of this masterpiece was amazing, and truly breath-taking. Later this weekend we plan to visit La Rambla again as the city celebrates St. Jordi’s day. We are told the street will be full of roses and books, as the people celebrate the day that St. Jordi played the dragon, and saved the Princess and the people.

We have a little over two weeks here in Barcelona, and there is still so much to be done and learned!






So it begins…

¡Hola! My name is Cassie Sharp, and this blog is going to give you a glimpse into the many adventures that I will have during my time International Student Teaching in Barcelona, Spain. As part of my requirements for International Student Teaching I am supposed to blog about different experiences, what I am learning, and how my time abroad has been. I have named this blog “Learning More than I’m Teaching,” because if there is anything that I have learned about education in the past 3.5 years it is that teachers are learners. Teachers are always learning about new ways to teach, new theories, new curriculum, and learning how to best teach new students in new environments. I have been blessed with the opportunity to teach in Barcelona for three weeks. Although I have never been out of the country, and I have certainly never experienced like what is about to happen; I am very excited about what is to come, and everything that I am going to learn during my time abroad. I hope that you all enjoy reading about my experiences as much as I will have during them!