This is an amazing job. I officially work 11.5 hours a week, give fifteen classes of forty-five minutes each, and teach six lessons a week. This is sah-weeeeet.
Good things from this week, in list form:
1. School Two is consistently my favorite school. Marie-Pierre asked if I wanted a table in front of the room to put my stuff on. My teaching style usually involves putting the materials I'm using on a table in front of me, so it was basically like she read my mind. She brought me up to the school's ATTIC (yes, an attic) and I picked out an old student desk. I may change it up because I pretty much have carte blanche in that school. The principal and the lady I only know as "Merci Madame" have taken to making sure that they eat lunch with me on Thursdays to provide company. It's amazing. I teach a total of four classes there: two 4th grades and two 5th grades, and three of the teachers stay in the room with me. Marie-Pierre doesn't, but it's all good because these students are amazing. They're intelligent, well-behaved, interested, make good efforts, and are just too plain cute. I'm starting weather with my 5th graders, and we sang the Incey Wincey Spider song. If you've never seen 26 10-year-olds sing and do the hand motions for this song, it should definitely be on your to-do list for life. Ab-so-friggin-lutely cute. And apparently there's a direct French counterpart, about a spider climbing up a water spout...whatever that is.
2. School One is so pleasant. Jean-Francois teaches the other section of 4th grade English there, and we just finished planning out this next "marking period" for topics to cover. It's so great to have someone native to this system to bounce ideas off of, and it's especially cool because he's studying with Madame Renson, my original contact and ultimate resource. J-F is great, I really like working with him. Alexia is another teacher at this school, and she was a French assistant in Scotland a few years ago. When she introduced herself to me, she spoke in (adorably Scottish accented) English and gave me her phone number. I only have two classes at School One, and they're really decent. The 4th graders can be a handful, and the 3rd grade class is entirely too big (there's more than 25 I'm sure). But it's decent and they grasp concepts fairly well. Very encouraging.
3. I GOT PAID!!! This is my first paycheck in France. Being in the Academie of Limoges really makes a difference - it's so well-organized, there are fewer assistants than the other academies, and the people we deal with know us personally and are genuinely invested in our experience. I didn't ask for the advance, but my very first paycheck was not delayed like it has been in previous years, and was deposited immediately in my French bank account. I was paid 700E for four weeks. This is the biggest paycheck I've ever received. It's pretty special.
4. I love Rocio. She's so friendly and we have really pleasant conversations. There's about a six year age difference between us, but we get along so well. It's really nice to have someone else to speak with, whose French is on the same level as your own, and who also speaks Spanish!! She's awesome and I'm so glad there's someone like her here.
5. In case Ben reads this, he's pretty cool too. :) People at the high school are surprised that we don't speak to each other in English, but honestly, it'd be weird if we did. Our first encounter was among other French people, and usually Rocio is with us, and it's kind of rude to speak a language that other people don't understand. So we're about 90% of the time speaking in French, even the times when it's just him and me. But he's intelligent and amusing and I enjoy that.
Not so good things that happened this week:
1. I got so fed up with my 3rd and 4th grade classes at School Three. I'm so angry at them. They REFUSE to listen to me, they don't listen to their classmates, they refuse to even attempt to understand. A song I tried with the 3rd graders:
Red, orange, yellow and green
These are colors I have seen
Black, white, purple and blue
These are colors I know too.
I don't do anything differently with them than I did with the 3rd graders at School One, but for some reason, these students have absolutely zero interest in me, English, or even just behaving. I've sent the really naughty ones to the principal's office, I've made them copy lines, I've made them sit in silence for the last fifteen minutes of the lesson (that was probably harder for me), and yet nothing works. Their classroom teacher, Virginie, has been nothing but sympathetic and supportive. She suggests ways to discipline them, which I try, but they refuse to behave. I'm so frustrated with them!! And there's only eleven of them! I've already written them out of the penpal project with Mom's and Maggie's classes, with maybe the exception of C*. He's so attentive and I really worry, as I bet he does too in his little 8-year-old head, that he'll lose his English. I'd love to work with him because he TRIES. The others don't. They crack jokes, they punch each other, they make fun of each other, they start a phrase and then start laughing because they think they're saying it funny...I don't know what to do. Ideally but lazily, I'd find a way to eliminate them entirely because I only have an hour with them a week and we really don't accomplish anything. We've done numbers and "What's your name?". That's IT. Very frustrating. Ah. Maybe I'll find a moment to talk with Virginie on purpose about my difficulties. Maybe she'll let me observe an entire regular class. I'd like that.
I have my very first private tutoring lesson tomorrow with the daughter of one of the teachers from School Two. I don't have anything prepared except we're going to snack on Goldfish (thanks Mom and Dad!) and I'm going to gauge her English proficiency and she's going to tell me what exactly she'd like to work on. I'm so excited! It's also 15E for 1.5 hours, so go me.
I'm in FRAAANCE and I'm happy. Happy happy happy Rosa.