People say that teaching young children is one of those things that you really have to feel a calling for. Our talk with a third-year student, Amparo Sanz, only seems to confirm this. She transmits enthusiasm and excitement when she speaks of her degree, her placements, her lecturers, and her aspirations. It is easy to see her as someone who will illuminate the lives of the children in her care over the course of her career as a teacher.
Why did you decided to study Pre-School Education?
When I was young and at school, my preschool teacher was very sweet and lovely to me, and this had a great impact on me. Later, when my little sister was born, I began to feel a vocation. I am nine years older than she is and I always loved to read her stories, even making them up, making her the protagonist. I also helped her when she started reading and writing. I noticed she was having a good time with me, while also progressing in her learning. That made me feel proud, and so I knew I wanted to become a teacher.
“I THINK A TEACHER’s main task IS TO SEE IN THEIR STUDENTS THINGS THEY DON’T EVEN KNOW THEY HAVE”
What’s day-to-day life like as a Pre-School Education student?
I’m really motivated to learn because I love what I am studying. There’s only a small group of us in lectures and this means that the lecturers can pay each student more attention than is normally the case. But that seems to come naturally to these lecturers anyway. They are always available to us to answer any queries we may have.
In addition, CEU is different because of the level of student involvement. We’re offered a lot of projects and activities. It’s like the kind of college life you see in American movies, in which you can really immerse yourself in the life and squeeze everything out of your time there. If you want to, there are always things you can do. There’s a lot of extracurricular stuff going on and all those activities are really rewarding.
What is your relationship like with your lecturers?
Our lecturers really like what they do – you can see how they love teaching. They make even the most intimidating courses accessible, such as Research Methodology in Education. They also help you a lot: if you send them an email they reply quickly and they’re also available to you during their office hours. Obviously, you have to do your own work, but you feel that they are there to support you during the process, and the passion they feel for teaching is obvious.
You have already gained some practical experience in a school. How did that go?
When we were in the first year of our degree, our teachers proposed a project to us, which consisted of going to a school once a week and, after observing during the first few weeks, we had to implement an activity in class. I went to a class in Colegio Camarena Valterna at the time when the children were learning about healthy food. The objective of my activity was for the children to be able classify which kind of food was healthy and which was not. I like to innovate, and I wanted the children to learn and have fun, and so what I came up with was to make a video in which I dressed up as a French cook. In the video, I told the children that I needed their help to find my recipes, which I had lost. So, first they had to find the recipes in the school library and then classify them. I wanted my activity to be different to what they were used to. They were really engaged by the activity and I was happy with the experience.
“I THINK the placements ARE VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE IT’S WHERE YOU REALIZE YOU’RE REALLY DOING WHAT YOU WANT”
Now you are in your third year, what placement do you have coming up?
This year I’ll spend four months at the Colegio Gran Asociación, in Valencia. I’ll be working from 9 to 5 with a class of five-year-olds. The school’s teachers have welcomed me really well and they’re helping me a lot. I think the placements are really important because that’s when you realize you are really doing what you love.
What’s it like to study at a university like CEU which has such an international atmosphere?
You can really feel that CEU is an international university. All you need to do is to walk around the campus. You can hear people speaking in different languages in every corridor and you can that many students have come from Asia. For a while, some German students were in my lectures and they really added something different to it.
“THAT THE CEU IS AN INTERNATIONAL UNIVERSITY IS SOMETHING VERY OBVIOUS. YOu ONLY HAVE TO TAKE A WALK AROUND CAMPUS”
What challenges do you think the education sector is facing today?
I think it is very important for us to bring together the strengths of the families, schools and society to improve children’s education. We all need to work together and to support each other to instill the right values in them on a day-to-day basis: equality, respect, and to treat others as they would like to be treated. And, of course, we have to find a solution to all the different kinds of conflicts between parents and schools.
Where would you like to work once you graduate in Pre-School Education?
I would love to work at a school where I could use my creativity. I really like to invent things. For example, it would be fascinating to be able to make the book I use in class myself, to create it in a more personalized, different form from the ones normally used. I would not mind working at a publishing company, creating books either. There is a lot of teaching material still in use after many years which I think needs revising.
“I WOULD LOVE TO WORK IN A SCHOOL WHERE I COULD DEVELOP MY CREATIVITY”
What’s the most important thing you’ll take away with you from your time at this University?
At CEU, they see things in you what you didn’t even know yourself that you possessed and they bring it out of you. I was lucky that Rosa, the Vice-Dean, saw something in me. That was the best lesson she could have taught me. Now I think a teacher’s main task is to see in their students things they do not even know they have. To believe in them and help them. That’s what has happened to me and I will always be grateful for that.