It's been a decent week in France. Monday went pretty well, and I realized that my difficult classes really do need some kind of concrete discipline system. They work so much better when there's a physical "carrot" at the end of the stick and not just the nebulous "because it's good for you" reason to learn. Anything, for that matter.
Tuesday went beautifully. I LOVE my fifth graders! They are so smart! I also think that I'm not challenging them enough. Especially after talking with Mira, I think I may be simplifying things too much. The fifth graders can handle more. Hopefully next week will throw something fun in their faces. Ahhh I love this job!
I did a lot of work on Wednesday, but as always never enough. There's always more to do.
Tuesday night Ben bought a galette des rois or a Kings' Cake and some (dry!!) cider. And we feted the Epiphany, all of us: Ben, me, Rocio and her mom and her brother David, and our adopted buddy Marie (the substitute English teacher). It was delightful. The King Cake is a flaky pastry with almond paste inside. Somewhere in the cake is hidden a fève, which originally was a dried bean but in the past centuries has become a tiny porcelain trinket. Typically it's something country-ish like a chicken, a cow, a carton of eggs, or something religious like baby Jesus, Mom Mary, or the Magi; in recent decades it's become popular culture characters. I've seen Mickey Mouse. The tradition behind the King Cake is this: The youngest of the party hides under the table while the second oldest cuts the cake into eight or six pieces. The youngest person, under the table, dictates who gets what piece of the cake. He has to skip a part if there are fewer people than cake pieces. As you eat the cake, someone will find the little fève. This person becomes the king (or queen), chooses a partner queen (or king), and wears a little paper crown that Burger King totally ripped off. So our fève was Lord Asriel which matched "The Golden Compass" crown. And I found it! I made David my king because Ben already got to play because he's the youngest of us. Marie was so disappointed - she NEVER gets the fève! So that was a delightful evening.
Tuesdays are our usual wine and cheese nights but that was pre-empted by the King Cake. So we did wine and cheese on Wednesday. The usual suspects. It was so much fun. People in charge here at the high school like us because we're so laid-back and quiet. We don't have raucous parties; we do wine and cheese, and King Cake.
Today in school, I* gave me a New Year's present. It was chocolates! The tag even said "For Rose Happy New Year from the M* family" on it! I have to mention also that this family is Muslim, and if I had to stereotype my students, it's the Muslim and Turkish students who are more inclined toward language learning. Probably because they speak one language at home and French in school. Ah that was so sweet!!
My discipline system is working! I draw a house on the board. The house has ten components. Each time the class as a whole (I didn't say it was perfect) causes us to slow down or stop for whatever reason, I erase a part of the house. After three parts are erased, they write ten lines. After five parts of the house are erased, they get a croix dans les règles de vie (discipline marks that carry into regular class with Maitresse). After all parts of the house are erased, we stop class altogether. If the house is completely intact at the end of the class, they get a sticker. At the end of the marking period, I count up the number of stickers they have. 1-4 stickers gets a penny; 5-9 stickers gets a nickel; 10+ stickers gets a dime. I'd like to tweak it to make the individual students more accountable, but there are just SO many of them! I dunno...I guess I should do it like that.
Oooh Rocio's mom is cooking and it's onions and garlic and something. They're leaving next Saturday! I was really looking forward to spending more time with them. I hope they're not too bored here in the cultural mecca of La France Profonde.
Oh - while at the Post Office one day, Ben bumped into an American woman. Apparently she and her husband fled the US once Bush was elected...I forget if it was the first or second time...but in any case, they're pretty much political refugees of sorts. They are artists and used to teach Spanish in Colombia. So they're coming over on Wednesday for a Spanish soiree.