“All the techniques that work in the States to get students to quiet down didn’t work in Spain,” she said. “You couldn’t raise your hand and get them to do the same, nor could you stomp your heels on the floor in extreme circumstances. Of all the teachers I observed the first few days, the only thing that got the students to quiet down was to bang a book on the desk or against the blackboard.”
Because lessons were taught exactly from the book and teachers couldn’t bring extra materials into the classroom, there was no reason to plan lessons. During class, the students, ages seven to nine, would read the next page in the book.
“It was very different,” she said. “There was no homework, no papers to grade, and no lessons to plan. You came to work five minutes before the bell and left as soon as the bell rang. The students were even responsible for picking up the classroom at the end of the day, getting all the papers put back in their place, and erasing the board. It was the strangest thing I think I’ve ever seen.”
Her first brush with Spain was a study abroad experience in the southern town of Malaga. Looking for a way to go back, she discovered the student teaching opportunity through the Indiana University Overseas Project. Now, she lives in Spain and works for TtMadrid as an administrator, observer, trainer, and lesson planning assistant. TtMadrid sends trainers into the Spanish workforce to teach English as a second language to adults.
“They want to improve and most of them work at it after work so they can improve as much as possible, which makes classes interesting and fun to teach,” said Worcester, who double majored in Spanish and Spanish education with a minor in Latin American Studies at Miami University in Ohio and is completing a master’s degree from Indiana University.
She joined PLT to keep up-to-date on education projects and research.
“As much as I love my colleagues at the school and the companies, I do feel alone at times, since most of them were not education majors and therefore don’t know who Krashen was or why we should look at Vygotsky’s theories,” she said. “The idea of belonging to an actual group of educators that would keep me up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of education was very exciting.”
If she does return to the States, she’d like to teach at a university.
“I like the idea of teaching literature, culture, and history more than the grammar,” she said. “This is what makes a language come alive, but it is forgotten by many and is the most interesting to me. I love learning more and more about these topics and sharing my knowledge about them.”