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EMMA BURGER '14 (Bachelor of Arts in Music Education; Certificate in Leadership Studies)

First Year K-5 General Music Teacher at the American School of Madrid in Spain.


POST #1: August 15, 2014

A great adventure begins tomorrow; I will be flying to Madrid, Spain, with a one-way ticket.

This time last year, I was getting ready to start my senior year at Marietta College.  Both of my roommates had spent the spring semester studying abroad, and while I could not wait to see them in August, I was also sad that I never had the opportunity to study abroad while in college.   Because that door was closed to me, I decided to research teaching abroad.  I googled that same phrase, and quite literally a world of possibilities was opened to me.  I had no idea there were International schools in almost every country.

After spending some time perusing school websites and weighing my options, I decided to find a job using a company called SearchAssociates.  They specialize in bringing international schools and prospective teachers together at job fairs, where interviews are conducted and job offers are made.  Before I was accepted as a client by SearchAssociates, I had to write an essay, provide sealed letters of recommendation, interview via Skype, and then, when all had cleared, pay a fee.  This took most of September and October, and by November, I was “in”and registered for a job fair at the end of January. 

The job fair was a fast paced experience.  The first step in the fair was to schedule interviews with schools that had music openings.  I walked up to booths, shook hands, handed out my resume, and spoke briefly with the schools.  The American School of Madrid had a music opening posted, but it was for a teacher with 5+ years of experience and a Masters degree.  Although I was very unqualified, I approached the table and introduced myself.  I spoke with the Headmaster who then informed me that while I was unqualified for the posted position, he would love to interview me for a music internship position, which was not advertised.  During our interview the next day, I was offered the position and had 24 hours to accept or decline the offer.  I was elated, but to make matters more complicated, I had two other offers on the table from other schools.  I spent the night in my hotel room, reading contracts, comparing salaries, and making pros and cons lists about all three schools.  I went to bed that night not knowing what I would do. 

I didn’t sleep well that night because my mind was racing and thoughts of Spain danced in my head.  I woke up in the morning with my answer.  I accepted the position as a K-5 General Music Teacher through the American School of Madrid’s internship program, which is a program designed to give support to first year teachers.  As a first year teacher, I’ll be co-teaching with a more experienced colleague.  I’m really pleased about this, because co-teaching will give me a chance to observe a seasoned teacher and give me opportunities to improve my pedagogy without the stress of being 100% in charge of my own classroom.

Back to the present, I’m ready to go!  I spent the summer with my family and saying goodbye to most of my worldly possessions.  I’m excited to begin my first year of teaching and to have the life changing and culturally immersive experience I’ve always wanted to have.  I’m guessing this year will be one of the most difficult years of my life, but in the words of JFK, “We didn’t go to the Moon [Spain] because it was easy, we went to the Moon [Spain] because it was hard. 

No matter what lies ahead, I’m just going to jump in and figure it out.

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