Les écoles

Today I went to the local école and observed one of the classes that I’ll be teaching. I arrived at 9am sharp and rang the buzzer to enter the campus. The directress came out to meet me and showed me to the classroom. I sat in on the CP and Ce1 class, somewhere around the ages of 7-9. At first, I didn’t realize that there were actually two levels in one class, one side devoted to CP and the other to Ce1. In the States, this would be like combining second and third grade! I imagine that for the teacher, it’s a pedagogical nightmare! But the maitress was very kind to explain the differences between les niveaus for me. Apparently, it isn’t as bad as in rural France, where four or more levels are in the same classroom.

The main problem, she explained, is that there is trop bruit! (too much noise!) And it was true; the classroom was a bit animated but not out of control. She did a fabulous job keeping tabs on all of the learning and answering questions of les élèves. I was impressed. It was a good thing that I got to sit in on the class and (as hippie as this sounds) feel the vibe of the classroom. There is a positive energy; it is a generally happy place. I’m beginning to learn that I’ll be completely responsible for the English program here, which means creating a curriculum and setting up my lessons. It’s kind of a daunting task, especially considering that I have zero training in pedagogy or childhood development. I’m flying by the seat of my pants, here.

I’ll be doing basic ESL for kids, teaching them vocabulary and basic syntax. Although, I’m not sure how much the students can process at one time. Slow and steady, I believe, is best at this point. Constant repetition and educational games seem to do the trick for most of the assistants in my shoes. At this point, I’m really looking forward to the orientation on October 6th, where we’ll really learn more about pedagogy and structuring our lessons. A part of me is a bit frightened about being completely responsible for the students’ learning while another part of me is ready and willing to accept the challenge. From what I have seen and understand, they’re very sharp kids and focus relatively well. My main task will be to assess comprehension and their ability to digest what I’m teaching. Hopefully, we’ll find our groove soon and real learning can begin!

Yesterday, another American assistant arrived! It was great to meet K and actually speak in English for a little while. Additionally, there is a teacher at the Lycée that lives in our little building. She doesn’t speak a word of English, which is just fine. She is very kind, dealing patiently with my grammatically incorrect French. I am not sure if another assistant will arrive at all, only time will tell. But I am happy to not live alone anymore! We finally bought cleaning supplies and gave our “dorm rooms” a little rub-down. It’s very gratifying to finally get settled in. After all, this is my home for the next 7-8 months! I think that another English speaking assistant will arrive soon. So, it’ll be nice to have another neighbor.

And what is fantastic about where I’m living is that there is a cantine about a stone’s throw from my room, which serves meals Mondays through Fridays, 3x a day for less than 3 euros apiece! It’s great because I don’t have a kitchen or anything to cook with. I could realistically spend less than 200 euros each month on food, which is a great way to save money on a tighter budget. While I’d rather cook my own meals, it’s great that this option is presented to me. I actually had my first meal there yesterday and they served baked salmon, which wasn’t bad at all.

Still, I don’t have any wifi in my dorm room, so this post is (yet again!) without pictures. Hopefully, soon! Until then, you’ll just have to use your imagination!

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2 thoughts on “Les écoles

  1. Jessica, these are such wonderful comments and experiences. What a wonderful path ahead for you. You will be such a blessing to the community and children in Chauny. Very proud of you!!

  2. that’s so cool that you’ll be teaching english! cael goes to a bilingual school where he gets a few hours of english a week. i love that these students are learning more than one language! and i am sure you are going to do great. God would not have brought you here if He knew you couldn’t handle it!!

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