October 8, 2009

Thrown to the wolves

Posted in travailler tagged , , , , , , , at 12:23 pm by Fat Girl Dancing

In a combination of nerves and some neighbors playing drums until past midnight last night, I didn’t get much sleep last night. I stumbled around my room this morning, repeating to myself over and over the things I needed to do before I left: put my jump drive in my purse, write down the words to the song to teach, make lunch, etc.

I quickly ate some cereal (all French cereal seems to have chocolate in it, even the adult cereal), and set out for the bus stop. I left within plenty of time, and still arrived just in time to see my bus speeding by. Bugger! He was 7 minutes early! I debated walking versus waiting the 20 minutes for the next bus, and decided to wait it out. It would take me nearly an hour and a half to walk, and I would certainly be late. Fortunately the next bus was on time, and I still made it to my school before my first class.

All French schools are locked to outsiders, so I stood at the gate and waited for someone to let me in. It turned out to be one of the teachers I would be working for who let me in and showed me around. She also told me what my exact hours would be at this school, and what grade levels I would be teaching. I knew I would be teaching the older students at my main school, so I had planned my lessons for them. When I found out I would be teaching the younger students, I got a bit nervous! I had only prepared one lesson, and I would have to adapt it to the three different levels I would be teaching today.

My first class was with the youngest group that Assistants are allowed to take, I believe they are 6 and 7 year olds. The teacher shares her classroom with them and an even younger group, so I take the 10 kids to another building for their English lesson. The orientation stressed that it’s important to build rituals early for the students, so I decided that we would sing “Following the Leader” from Peter Pan as we walked to and from the classroom. The kids had no idea what I was singing, but they went along with it.

This first class went very well, even though I broke a little rule by having them write. Kids that young aren’t supposed to write in English, because they’re just barely learning to write in French, and it messes them up. But since I’d only planned one lesson, I just went ahead with it. From now on, I’ll design a separate lesson for them.

All the kids in the three classes I had today were very cute and very French. The first class was the only class where I was entirely on my own. In the other two classes, their teacher is at least in the room to yell at troublemakers.

We sang two songs, a “Hello song” that I found on the Assistants forum and made up a tune to and then I began teaching them the words to a song I loved from Girl Scout camp. They can’t understand the words, but it’s got lots of movements and it’s silly, and they liked watching an adult do the silly movements.

The last class I had were the oldest, and although they had had English before, I started them at the same place, since no one had really told me anything else. We worked on “Hello,” “My name is,” “What is your name?” “girl,” and “boy.” Most of this group caught on quickly, although there were still a few that simply didn’t understand what they were saying and were just repeating the weird words because I told them to. This tells me that a refresher is probably not a bad thing for this group, but I can speed it up a little and maybe add some more content.

I ran out of material early in my last class, and asked the students (in French) what they knew about the United States, to try and bring in some culture. They knew that Obama was president and Bush was the former president, which is pretty impressive. If you ask any American elementary student who the president of France is, they would have no idea.

I walked to my other school after teaching my last class, because at my last discussion with them they had said something about Thursday afternoons. When I walked in and asked the Director if he needed me today, he said no. He did ask me for several papers such as a copy of my passport and bank info and such, so I can get paid, so I at least got that taken care of. And he finalized my schedule:

Mondays   13h30 – 16h15   Jules Ferry

Tuesdays   9h – 15h                Jules Michelet

Wednesdays FREE – No elementary school on Wednesdays

Thursdays  8h30 – 11h15   Jules Ferry

Fridays   9h – 15h                  Jules Michelet

So tomorrow I teach at Jules Michelet, and I’ll use the same lesson plan, but maybe beef it up a bit, because the students are all older.

I came home and collapsed for a few hours. I’m having some lovely sinus drainage that’s left me with a sore throat and a queasy stomach. I’m fighting it with some hardcore vitamins I brought from the States, but right now I just feel pretty run down.



  1. Alicia said,

    Great post!
    Is it me or are you working more than 12 hours a week?

    • jesuislaprof said,

      They’re counting the hours I’m actually teaching, not the recess or the two-hour lunch :-\

  2. Shannon said,

    I think my school is the most unsecure school ever. There are two gates. One that is locked during classes. The other is never locked. Ever. It’s always wide open!

    • jesuislaprof said,

      LOL, at least that makes it easier for you to get in!

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