So you’ve heard of Teach for America? Judging by my school you could say I’m Teaching for France. Ecole Élémentaire Champagne is in Planoise, a Besançon suburb mostly populated by low-income apartment buildings and not sporting the best reputation. At first I worried that this could be another challenge on top of the language barrier, but as it turns out kids are kids, no matter their backgrounds. Sure, there are some I could slap across the face with very little regret but others are just so sweet and adorable I just want to squeeze them. I try to remind myself that the nasty kids may not have the greatest home lives. Also, the area makes for a pretty diverse student body. You’ve got your regular French bien sûr, but there are also plenty whose families recently immigrated from North Africa or Eastern Europe. They provide bonus cultural experiences like learning how they celebrate their Muslim holidays or seeing how they dress differently.
Monday, February 1, 2010
The Actual Job Thing.
I’m taking my first sick day today. This weekend I started getting a little sinusy… it’s been a long time coming but I want to make sure I’m healed for the winter break. Guess how much my prescriptions cost? 10 days of pills, 1 pack of effervescents, and a nasal spray. Easily over $50 back home, right? Well in France it’s 0.65€, that’s SIXTY-FIVE CENTS, in the US that’d be just under ONE DOLLAR. Merci, MGEN! I didn’t even need the medicine after that, the price alone made me feel instantly better! So now that I feel OK, I’ve started feeling guilty about missing school, so I’ll combat the feeling by writing about it and then watching some Project Runway and knitting.
In general, it’s not my ideal job (mostly because I have yet to figure out what is). I find it tiring and nerve-racking sometimes because I have so little experience but still have been given the responsibility of English language learning for an entire school. Not to mention getting lightheaded from singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” about 20 times a day. My best advice to any future assistants: pack a water bottle, stickers, and any book illustrated by Eric Carle.I find the younger classes are the most difficult. The first and second grade (CP & CE1) love songs and books and things and because of their level you can’t do much else. Games and worksheets are a little too above their heads. At the moment, Brown Bear, Brown Bear is going over HUGE. I made up motions to go along with each animal… I guess there’s a chance they could learn some colors and animals words, but if not, who cares? They LOVE it, especially Yellow Duck and Purple Cat. The older kids actually get interested in culture stuff and I’ve derailed a few classes to talk about the differences in American elementary schools, or Barrack Obama (by the way, if anyone in France asks, I totally voted for him). Otherwise, I just do the basics: colors, numbers, days of the week, months, ages, birthdays, etc. Throw in a little Thanksgiving, Mardi Gras, and “American Football” and you’ve got yourself lesson plans for a whole year! We also play a lot of bingo but I had to cut them off from Simon Says, they were getting way too addicted. Anything they can win a sticker from is a gold mine. Even the older kids in CM2 (10-11 years old) get serious over who gets a piece of my “autocollant” collection. It’s nice to have that easy of a power hold. Just wait until I bust out the fake dollars…
Posted by Connie Renée Boudreaux at 10:58:00 AM