We all hope that our school placement is going to be a glorious year with wonderful coworkers and great kids. However, in the real world, it doesn’t always work out that way. Unfortunately, I’ve been a “bad school” victim more than once, and my best advice is: even if things seem great, you love them, they love you, you’re skipping through a meadow of flowers, KEEP everything in writing. When you ask for permission to leave early for flight, ask in writing. When you go to the doctor, get a “justificante” (doctor’s note) and always give them a photocopy while you save the original.
Here’s a list of “in writing” situations, though I’m sure I’m missing a few:
- Excused absences for travel, visiting family, etc
- Excused absences to go home early at Christmas or in June
- Escalating problems with a teacher*
- Swapping days off with another auxiliar or within your own schedule
- Approved late arrivals or early departures for the day to visit the doctor, Extranjería (immigration), Aluche, etc.
Even the best of situations can quickly change for the worse if you suddenly have problems with the “wrong” teacher or administrator. Many schools can be quite cliquey and you should always be careful of what you say and who you say it to. A lot of people treat gossiping like a competitive sport and rumors can spread faster than wildfire in a gasoline soaked pine forest. Everyone may seem very nice and welcoming at the beginning, but it takes time for you to really get to know the other teachers in your school.
Cover your back by speaking first with your coordinator if you have an escalating problem with another teacher or a fellow auxiliar. In general, the first person to talk about the problem with “the higher-ups” is the one who “wins” the dispute, especially if it’s a petty conflict that escalated from a clash of personalities (which unfortunately can happen).
Again, GET EVERYTHING IN WRITING!! Whatsapp, email, or written correspondence (with you always keeping the original) are the best ways to go! If your school assigns you an email, be sure to communicate with the teachers regarding the above issues through your personal email, and not the school account. It sounds counter-intuitive, but if you use your school account for correspondence during a conflict there’s always the possibility that an administrator could go in later and erase the email threads if someone from the Education Ministry gets called in to resolve or mediate the issue.
This might all sound scary but hundreds of auxiliars develop a great relationship with their schools and experience a minimum of conflict. If something does go down though just remember: get it all in writing, keep a paper trail, save your receipts.