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Well, last week was my first week of actual teaching. I have a total of twelve classes, spread out between three schools (a day at each school), in the small town Pertuis. It’s about a 30-minute bus ride north of Aix. Very typical, very small, cute little town.
My first day, Tuesday, was a series of mixed results. It was at a school known for having lower test scores and more disruptive students. The principal and teachers had warned me several times about this when I went in to meet them the week before. I reassured them that I had some experience with similar students from volunteering at my mom’s school. I was more nervous about what I was actually going to do with my students as none of the schools or teachers had given me much of an idea as to the student’s English level or what they expected of me in terms of lesson material or a curriculum.
I decided I would just have to play it by ear and try and feel out the level of the students when I got there. I prepared a small Halloween lesson with a song, should I have enough time.
My first two teachers were totally down with this. I asked them if there was anything specific they wanted me to do or that I should know about the classes English level. When they had nothing I told them my plan. The kids and teachers all seemed to love the song I had too!
My third class was a little rockier. I had met the teacher on my earlier visit and had already been less than impressed with her and her attitude. I made it through though, and the kids still seemed to enjoy the song, (despite the teacher’s comments about my handwriting and disjointedness of the lesson). My fourth class was back to being average. I was definitely still getting into the groove of things and boarded the bus back to Aix with some mixed feelings about my first day.
My second day, however, got off to a great start, and from there on things were really rolling. A couple classes even already had weather charts and dates in English on the board that they had already been practicing every day (something I had been hoping for and disappointed to not find in any of my Tuesday classes)! Teachers were complimenting my lesson (I had figured out a smoother way to transition from each review topic I had an then onto Halloween) and asking if I had ever taught before, they thought I was doing so well.
By the time my last class on Friday came around (I work Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday) I was feeling very good. It’s the class that the school’s principal teachers (in elementary schools the principal is also a teacher here) and I was feeling a little nervous because of that, but also very confident. I hadn’t had any upsets since Tuesday. Everything went down without a hitch. The principal was so pleased that he said he was putting the link for the song on the school’s website for the kids and asked if he could take a picture of me teaching to add with a blurb about the English lesson! It was so rewarding to hear that he thought I had done well enough for that!
Overall, while a little discouraging at the beginning, it was a very rewarding first week. It was exhausting, as working with elementary school children it had to repeat everything several times in both English and French. By the end of Friday I could barely focus on any one language, and usually I’m good at switching languages quickly! But it was a good kind of tired, and it feel so much better about the upcoming weeks, not that I’ve made it over this first hurdle.
And what a great feeling to have as I start my first vacation as well! Yep, that’s right, matter one week of work I’m already on vacation. Every six weeks of school, they get two weeks off. So I’m currently on my way, with my friend Hayley, to Paris our launching point for what will be ten days of travel (I’ll be meeting and losing different friends along the way).
We start in Paris where we will spend the day before grabbing a plane tonight to Stockholm. A few days in Stockholm and we’ll move onto Copenhagen where we’ll meet up with a few other friends. From there Jenny and I will go on to Berlin for the last few days then fly back the morning of The 31st, making it home just in time for Halloween!
I’m obviously very excited for the trip. And it’s especially nice to be able to go and enjoy my vacation without too much worry about returning to work in two weeks. So, knowing you all wish my a Bon voyage, I will sign off for now but do my best to update throughout the trip.
Let the wandering begin!