It’s about 4:15pm in La Flota.
This is a neighborhood in upper Murcia.
The square tile sidewalks are wide and blocks of faded pink houses line this Spanish definition of a suburb.
It’s great for starting a family, decent if you want a centralized living situation, and utterly horrible if you are an after school English teacher.
Four days a week I walk to a public elementary school in La Flota with a box of flashcards, balls, countless pieces of colored scrap paper, worksheets, and aspirations of helping a group of kids learn my native language.
Four days a week I walk home thinking, what the hell just happened?
It’s 4:15pm in La Flota and instantly after collecting ten first graders from one building in the school and guiding them to a separate classroom, I am pulling student number one off of student number two.
Number one said something to number two and soon they started fighting.
I tell him to sit in the corner as student number three decides to climb on a table and dance flamenco.
Student four just said “shit” in Spanish and the one student who ever truly wants to learn is screaming for me to hand her a worksheet. Pencils are being scattered all over the flour, along with what I thought would be a fun lesson plan.
Its 4:15pm in La Flota and I want to stop being an adult, stop trying to lead by example, and say f*** you to Spain’s future generation.
But I won’t do that. I won’t yell at these kids, won’t lose my cool even though I am finding out that my lesson plan sucked and that no one in this room wants to be here except me.
Educational bombs are dropping.
The next forty-five minutes will be linguistic trench warfare.
I give the class a firm, “five-four-three-two-one” and soon the eruption of child chaos is starting to go from green light to yellow light. Serious death stares establish me as the temporary alpha dog in this unruly after-school wolfpack.
We get an activity started. It starts to gel after a handful of patiently drawn-out moments and soon English vocabulary is not just coming from my voice.
Maybe the tide is settling.
Student one and two start to wrestle again. Student three decides to throw pencils across the room. Student five hasn’t come back from the bathroom yet.
Yells from six year olds and snapped debris of white chalk explode from the English induced car accident.
It’s 4:15pm and I want to go home.
I’m trying my best, but these kid’s whose parent’s are making them come to class don’t seem engaged.
This is La Flota.
This is my first real teaching job.
This is a thirty year old getting pealed like an onion by a gaggle of Murcian six year olds.
This is looking at the face of a dream and seeing that it’s not going to be easy.
This is patience being taken for a ride like heavy winds on an unmapped ocean.
This is where I go back to the drawing board and get a better lesson ready for tomorrow.
This is La Flota, where I’m going learn how to be a teacher.