Friday, March 28, 2008

Oh my goodness, are you ok?? What happened??

So hey! Remember me? Yeah. I almost don't remember myself. This is what happened:

Literally minutes after I made my last post, the magic internet box lost its signal. Now as we all remember, this happens regularly because the magic internet box is special and forgets its medication and has a hard time finding its favorite satellite. Or something. However, the signal didn't come back immediately. No bother, we'll wait it out. No reason to spend 34 cents a minute to get unhelpful "customer service" from France Orange. It'll come back.

On Friday morning, I pushed myself out of bed to go to my three classes at School Three. The minute I said "Bonjour" to Merci Madame (some day I will learn her name), she basically sent me home. Apparently when I called in sick on Thursday, she assumed it was for Friday as well. So none of my teachers had planned on English that Friday. Ohhh...well I'm here? Yes but Rose, you don't have to be here if you don't feel well. I really struggled with this. I felt well enough to power through three hours of English and I felt really bad about just going home. "I don't want to seem lazy..." to which Catherine, who usually spends her class' English lesson giving me quizzical looks from the back of the classroom, responded, "Oh don't worry Rose, no one thinks THAT." I took that as a compliment and went home.

Unfortunately at home there was still no internet. I was frustrated because I couldn't go to school, so I decided to be productive and proactive at least one way. So I called France Orange. They told me, or at least I heard, that they would send a technician on Tuesday evening. Whaaat?! All weekend?? And Rocio went to Paris for the weekend.

I was very sick + alone on a long weekend + no internet + two days and all eight classes of missed lessons = sad sad sad Rose. I just felt miserable and awful and hated myself and France and wanted to go home NOWNOWNOW.

Well, I wasn't entirely alone this weekend. My tutoring student came and we did some grammar and an article. I am so nervous for her - when she goes to her Bac Pro school next year, apparently they're supposed to be grammar and vocabulary experts. AHHH that would freak me out! So we're going to try more grammar practice.

Also, Yolande came to visit. Yolande is the daughter of Marie-Jo, one of the (nicest!) English teachers at the high school. Yolande is doing the equivalent of her bachelor's and master's at the same time. She's also applying to study abroad at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania! She's super sweet. Also she's gorgeous. She was fun to have around.

Monday was a holiday. France takes Easter Monday off, the US sometimes takes Good Friday off. Yay.

Tuesday went all right. I felt better but not 100%. My principals were super cool with me missing Thursday and Friday and don't expect me to make up the missing lessons. I am verrry happy about that. There is no way I was going to do that anyways.

Wednesday was awful. I was supposed to go to my three schools in the morning to correct notebooks but I woke up feeling worse than when I went to bed. The technician who was supposed to "come" today (I had called France Orange again over the weekend and apparently I misheard) was actually a woman who ran some tests on the phone to tell me the SAME DAMN THING I called them to fix!! I was FURIOUS. Rocio and I asked our friend Marie to call France Orange for us because I was in no state to call and Rocio's French isn't good enough. The CSR on the phone asked to speak to me again, during which he spoke awful English. How condescending. I do not consider that helpful or comforting. I see it as "oh you poor foreigner, let me reassure you because I have the power and you've been without internet for a week even though you're paying for it..." which by the way we have to call the billing department some day. In any event, they said they'd send a real live person to the building to actually TOUCH the phone lines on Thursday. And I didn't have to be there.

Add to all of this, I was fre-eaking out. I'm a naturally high-strung person. I was especially nervous because my supervisor, Madame Renson (who was my very first contact in France way back last summer), was coming to observe me. And because I missed last Monday's fourth graders, last Thursday and Friday, and the Monday of this week, my lessons were completely out of whack. Also I didn't feel well physically. I barely slept Wednesday night and sent whimpering text messages to Mom and Andy.

Somehow I made it out of bed on Thursday. School One's fourth graders were ok. I never have their lessons well done. I guess that's the penalty for being the first of four sections. Madame Renson was supposed to be in School One's third grade class, but she never showed up. I was starting to worry if something happened. In any case, the third graders did well and Maggie's students have some adorable letters to read about farm animals.

So then to School Two for the insane fourth graders. And look who's there! Apparently Madame Renson had gotten the schools mixed up. However, during my hour lesson, she was corned by all of the Cycle 3 (third, fourth, and fifth grade) teachers - Madame Cousty (she's the principal and teaches third grade), Christophe and Sylvie the fifth grade teacher, and Marie-Pierre and Catherine the fourth grade teachers. In France, if you are currently in Teacher College, you are automatically habilité - certified to teach English. In years past, l'habilitation was optional. So Madame Cousty is habilitée but the last time the other four had an English class was in high school. But next year, all full-time teachers will be required to teach English. There will be workshops to do essentially "catch-up" habilitation, but ohhh my goodness. The assistant will still be there, but in more of an assisting role and not responsible for the entire class as my colleagues and I currently are. So instead of observing my lessons, Madame Renson spent her time explaining to the teachers this new deal. They are understandably nervous for a number of pedagogical, preparatorial, and cultural reasons. Can you imagine?!

Can I just say how much I love Madame Renson. She is so patient and understanding and helpful. She totally made me feel better about my lessons, even though she didn't see any of them. She, and apparently the rest of my teachers, are thrilled to death that the English assistant actually has training in pedagogy and language education. Even Christophe said "Well, if Rose just stays next year..."

Madame Renson drove me to School Three where she was going to observe Luc's fourth grade class which overlaps my fourth grade class. However, the teachers there were even less thrilled about the new English project so Madame Renson got to fight with them as well. I only work with Virginie at School Three, and she was (rightly so) pissed off about this. My fourth graders were awful that day. I literally picked F* up and put him outside the classroom. I feel for that kid, really. He does not have the skills necessary to be in a mainstream classroom. Also M* is amazingly obnoxious. However, my third graders did AWESOME with the centers activities!!! They LOVED them, and I think they actually learned something! I'm going to make up some more for them because C*, K*, and F* are cruising through them. I'm psyched about it too, because usually F* is annoying. Because the centers activities are individual, I got a chance to really see how students work. I'm convinced V* has something wrong. I can't tell if he has anything in his head.

To make Thursday even better, I got not ONE but TWO!!! packages!!! One from Momma - penpal letters, my windsuit, and she sent me Easter!! A chocolate bunny and cutout cookies and jelly beans!! Thank you Mom! AND I got a package from the Powells - three bags of roasted edamame! I'm totally taking those with me on vacation. Awesome snacky food. Thank you!!!

Today was all right. Sylvie's fifth graders are obnoxious. I'm making up a seating chart because they are just...oh my goodness. They also need a different discipline plan than the house - sticker - coin deal I do with five other classes. Catherine's fourth graders need teacher-centered activities so I didn't give them the card game I made up. Christophe's fifth graders are, as usual, brilliant and totally understood the card game I made up for them. AH!! Also Christophe invited me to School Two's regular pre-vacation faculty lunch. I wonder if I couldn't bring something to share...

After school, I got clean bedsheets from Joceline the laundry lady at the high school, ate lunch with Marie (yummy! the lunch, not her), typed up a grammar worksheet for my tutoring student, did laundry, bought pants I'm not convinced I like yet (the pants I brought are biting the dust), and bought fixings to make dinner for Rocio and her friend Max who came to visit tout d'un coup this weekend. I found PARMESEAN CHEESE! Granted in a 100g plastic baggie but oh my goodness! So I'm making spaghetti and meatballs.

I feel MUCH better. Not necessarily about school because the penpal letters are showing how poorly I planned it but how good of a sport Mom and her colleagues are being with me and because there is NO way I'm getting evaluations done before next week. Not necessarily physically because I have an awful cough and a voice that scared my students - I'm not kidding and I haven't exercised or done yoga regularly since last Tuesday. Not necessarily emotionally because I have THREE WHOLE MONTHS left until I can come home.

But I feel better because I have the support of my principals and teachers and Madame Renson, because Madame Renson and Madame Cousty and Monsieur Modeste are going to write letters of recommendation for my credential file, because my room is clean, because I'm feeling a little better, because I know that I can leave before June 30th, because it's only three more months and two weeks of it is vacation in Spain and with Magsters.


That's what happened. Glad to be back. Hopefully the magic internet box keeps calm.


Jennie said...

I had the same problem recently with my Freebox. It just stopped working one day, so we called customer service (HA!) and they said they'd send a technician on Wednesday... which was in 10 days. ::sigh:: He did figure out the problem was with France Telecom though (they had cut our DSL line by mistake) and it was actually fixed the next day. But still, I had to live without my beloved internet for 12 long days!

Maggie said...

I am so excited to see you in a few weeks! And I'm glad you're feeling a bit better! :)