Good of an intro as any for a weather report: We’ve really lucked out because it has been GORGEOUS. In the sixties, clear blue skies, just perfect. However the nights have been cold and we couldn’t get our heater working. Turns out it wasn’t broken, we were just being Americans. Thankfully a more knowledgeable ami helped us out and we now have heat! So far I’ve heard that it doesn’t snow all that much in Besançon but hopefully some connections with assistants in smaller towns outside the city will get me to some real, real, snow. Not like the “snow” in Baton Rouge over finals week last December, but SNOW. Skiing may also be in my future, once my French health insurance kicks in.
OK, now about my teaching. Which is, as far as the French government is concerned, the reason I’m here. The department held a large meeting of all the assistants Monday, which basically consisted of eight hours of information and paperwork. Up until now, I’ve been so preoccupied with the move that I haven’t thought much about the actual job. I officially started my elementary school post last Thursday. I’m teaching all the classes, ages 6-10, and pretty much have all the lesson planning and teaching responsibility. The other teachers have warned me that discipline is a big problem, and since the children can already tell that I don’t speak awesome French (they laugh at my accent) I’m thinking commanding respect and attention is going to be difficult… but I’m just observing the first two weeks and I’ll be getting some help from the school and from a few workshops with the department so I’ll be able to put on a better game face soon. I find the French government a little crazy to give me this much responsibility with absolutely no experience. Teaching will definitely present a challenge, but it’s a mission I accepted and from which I now I’ll learn a ton about myself, and the language, and working in general. Hopefully, it will be a small price to pay for the experience of living in France.