On September 29th, the (American) Auxiliares de Conversacion funded by the Comunidad de Madrid met for orientation. There was a lot of information thrown at us, including some brand new expectations that shocked the hell out of us all. The whole thing lasted about 3 hours, including an short
sales pitch presentation by a language school at the end. Yes, some people found orientation uneccessary. I´m sure others would say that the information was vital. I personally didn´t mind being there, but I was just trying to figure out why the hell they didn´t think to pass around a cheese tray or something.
Anyway, for those of you who may have missed the presentation this year, or those of you interested in what is in store in the upcoming years, I’m going to summarize the key takeaways from each segment of orientation.
First, the US Embassy spoke to us about safety and voting from abroad.
Did You Know?
- The emergency phone number is Spain is 112 (and there are English speaking operators available)
- Pickpocketing is the #1 crime reported to the embassy
- Starbucks is the #1 location of pickpocketing offenses (watch your shit, people)
What else could you possibly need the embassy for? Well, if your passport is ever lost or stolen, you can receive an emergency replacement with no hassle. First, you have to file a police report, and then you must schedule an appointment with the embassy Monday through Fri between 8 am to 1 pm. The fee is $135, and it is due at the time of appointment. The embassy also helps with jail visits, returning bodily remains, safety/welfare checks, and etc., but that´s nothing any of you good people reading this are gonna need 🙂
The embassy workers also touched on the importance of using STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program). It´s basically is a free service that allows Americans to enroll their trips with notifications from the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate. You can receive emails or texts about any danger, threats, or warnings in the vicinity of your destination. Even better, your family can enroll and receive the same information for their peace of mind back in the states.
I was going to go ahead and explain what they told us about voting, but since the topic is only going to be relevant every 4 years, I´ll just skip that part, k?
Next, the um…Comunidad de Madrid people…talked to us about legal documents and our responsibilities as Auxiliares.
I assume we all have a generally correct idea of what an auxiliar de conversacion does with the students. But there is a really helpful handbook that clearly lists what we are and are not allowed to do day to day. E.g. auxiliares may be asked to prepare short lessons on their own time or attend staff meetings, but are NOT to lead the entire classroom time or be left alone with students. Some other frequently requested duties that we are NOT required to take include grading papers, translating documents, and disciplining behavior. Again, refer to the handbook for more specifics.
Of course, as auxiliares in Madrid, we all make €1000 per month. We were told to expect our checks between the 5th and 7th of November (Jesus be a €1 tapas bar). We were also told health insurance cards would be distributed to our schools late October/early November. There were quite a few unfortunate souls at orientation who were sick already, so lots of people asked how to get medical care without that card. The short answer was, call one of these numbers and explain that we were auxiliares and we should be able to get our numbers to write down and use in place of the card itself.
MAPFRE: +34 915 181 828
Coordinator: +34 917 201 203.
Speaking of health, absences from work are frowned upon in whole. Apparently there are only 2 reasons/ways to take excused leave. For planned vacations, we were told notify the principal ahead of time to work out a scheduling compromise. For absences due to illness, one must obtain a justification/doctor´s note ON THE DAY OF ABSENCE and turn it into the principal upon return to the school. Unexcused absences will result in pay deductio of €33.30 per day. Excused absences will only be paid for 1 week at a time, and wil be negotiated thereafter.
Now of course, there was all the legal document crap. I kind of faded in and out of attention at this segment because I hadn´t conjured up enough fucks about it all. Basically, what I got out of it was the following.
Your Número de Identificación de Extranjero (NIE) is listed in your visa. You can use it for opening a bank account, getting a library card, applying for your metro abono, etc.
Your Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjero (TIE) is what you need to be a legal resident of Spain. You must schedule an appointment for your TIE within the first 30 days of your arrival in Spain. The appointment itself can be anytime before or after the 30 day window. I highly suggest everyone use this thorough walkthrough to reference how to obtain the TIE.
On to the new things. Apparently starting this year, all auxiliares will have to enroll in a Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) for language assistant training. There was also mentions of turning in some media project (website, video, portfolio, etc.) before the end of the school year. Crazy right? Well, what´s even crazier is that we didn´t really get more information than that before it was on to the next topic. We were referred to check the website at a later date for more info.