Lycée Masséna

Short French lesson: lycée means high school!  You say it like lee-say.

I’m not really sure where to start with this post/where it’s going to go.  I could talk about my school in particular, show photos, try to explain the French school system, or talk about my teaching duties… I guess I’ll just start writing and choosing pics and see where it goes 🙂

To start, some photos of my school…

In order to get in, there is someone sitting behind the counter just inside the first door, and then a sliding glass door.  My first day, I asked if I needed a badge or anything to get in, and the teacher I was with said no, the person there just recognizes the students… not sure how that’s possible in a school of 1600 students, but whatever.  Every day I just nod at the person behind the window and the door opens!

View from the front.

The school isn’t anything like my high school- there’s a front door but it just goes into an open courtyard.  There are no indoor hallways- every classroom door opens to the outside!  I guess you can do that with a Mediterranean climate.  It’s also cool because the kids can be outside, while still being inside the school, since the courtyard is completely surrounded by buildings.

View from the 2nd floor.

It’s a big school, but the numbering system makes it easy for me to find the classrooms.  There are 5 rows of the building that go vertically, and one that goes horizontally (along the back).  Each classroom has a three digit number: the first digit is the floor, and the second is the building.  The first vertical building on the left is 1, the second is 2, etc, and then the horizontal building along the back is 5.  So classroom 231 is on the second floor in the third building from the left, which is the one on the right of this photo.

The view upon walking in the front door!

Lycee Massena is a really old school that was built in 1812.  There’s a lot of history behind it, which I wrote about a little bit here, or you can also read more about it here but you’ll need to copy and paste the URL into Google Translate.

View of the school from the tram stop!

I try to take photos of the school when no one is looking because I feel like a dork.  One morning I stopped in the teacher’s lounge to check my mailbox and it was empty, so I seized the opportunity!  Every teacher has their own cubby that doubles as a mailbox.

The first room of the teacher’s lounge.

I share a mailbox with the other assistants: I think there’s one for German, one for Italian, and one for Arabic, but I’m not sure.  I only know the one for Arabic but I left a note in the box introducing myself 🙂

That’s me!!

I started to walk into this room from the one with the cubbies–the two are connected–to take a picture and someone was sitting all the way in the left corner.  So I took a step back and snapped a picture from the doorway!  There is a women’s restroom all the way on the back left, and a men’s on the back right, and along the right side are a water cooler, soda machine, and coffee machine.

OH MY GOSH side note to a bathroom experience I had at another school where we had a meeting the first week here.  It was at a high school and another girl and I set off to use the bathroom.  It was a terrible experience for so many reasons.  There was no door to get into the bathroom, so you could see into it straight from the busy hallway.  There was no toilet paper in the stalls, just one large roll on the wall where you came in, so you had to grab however much you were gonna use and take it into the stall with you.  And perhaps the worst part was that there were NO SEATS ON THE TOILETS.  That’s right, you had to sit right on the rims.  I wanted to put down toilet paper to sit on but I had to ration the precious amount I grabbed from the dispenser on the wall.  AND we decided that it was a coed bathroom because there was no male/female sign or symbol anywhere, just “Toilettes” on the door.  IN A HIGH SCHOOL.  Between that experience, the total lack of public bathrooms anywhere, and the trend of PAYING to use bathrooms, I have decided I will never understand French restrooms.

Sorry, segue over.  The other half of the teacher’s lounge…

The second room for the teacher’s lounge.

I’ve been wanting to take pictures of a classroom, since I know people want to see them, but as I mentioned before I am only willing to do it when no one is around.  Well, I recently got the opportunity during a 10 minute break in-between classes!

This is a pretty typical classroom at Lycee Massena.  The classrooms are pretty big, and class sizes are pretty small–I’d say most are around 15 students, with a range of anywhere from 10 to 20 students.  I’ve only been in one class with more than 20.

Taken from the front left (when facing the class) of the room.

Although class sizes are really small, Lycee Massena is seriously slacking in the technology department.  There is wireless Internet (that I don’t have the password to… hmph), but it doesn’t reach everywhere, and I would say less than a third of the classrooms have a projector.  This one does and I feel so fortunate to have classes in this room!  Coming from U-High, where every student had a netbook and every classroom had a projector, it’s definitely something to adjust to.  Also, every single classroom has a blackboard.  Not a single one has a whiteboard or SmartBoard.

(The woman at the front is a teacher at the school and also happens to be my landlord!)

Taken from the back left (when facing the teacher) of the room. The door is at the back right.

The school itself is very rundown as well.  It is OLD and hasn’t been updated in forever.  Most of the classrooms have terrible peeling paint like you can see here, as well as many other issues.  However, even with all these drawbacks I have heard from multiple people that Lycee Massena is the best high school in the city.  From talking with other assistants, I’ve come to the conclusion that while some schools are more technologically advanced than Massena, its level of technology and state of the building isn’t really all that unusual.

Everything here is old.

Okay, I believe this post is sufficiently long to stop here!  I guess I’ll talk about my teaching duties and the French school system in another post–probably good, since I’m still getting settled in at school, and the French educational system is complex and I’m still learning about it!

Did I leave out anything you’re curious about?  If so, let me know!

Addition: a couple more photos!!  I went up to the Chateau de Nice on the side of a small mountain (maybe it’s categorized as a hill… Idk) and snapped a couple pictures of my school from way up high!!

It was kinda hard to distinguish the school from the other buildings around it, so I busted out Microsoft Paint and edited it 🙂

And a close up of the front door…

Have I mentioned the zoom on my camera is awesome?

Okay for real, that’s it.  If you’d like to vote on what my next post should be, the poll is still along the right side at the top!  Click here to jump up (I just learned how to insert links like that and I’m SO EXCITED).

Categories: Differences between France and the US, Life in France, Teaching | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

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7 thoughts on “Lycée Masséna

  1. hi
    I think I saw you in the lounge the day you arrived. I was the black woman sitting there.I am the Jamaican Author who was reding from my poetry and talikng abou poetry and writing to the students. I had a great time! THe Prepa students are just right and great !The teachers were great too.
    Paulette Ramsay

  2. Alex

    It is rather interesting to read about your point of view; but I have to tell you teachers and students side with you on the bathrooms and technology issues, as well as the shabbyness of the facilities at some point (the stairs are a total disaster… And you should see the room of some Prepa students in the dorms!) Anyway, it is good to have a fellow American among us. Praise the power of globalization 😉

    • Hey Alex! Two questions: 1, how did you find my blog?? I haven’t linked to it on FB in forever. 2, why is the front door sometimes closed so you have to go out the back door? I don’t understand..

  3. Tammy McGreer

    Kelsey honey it is very neat to read about every thing there. Thank you so much for sharing. Aunt Tammy.

  4. Mom

    So wonderful to see your school! And to know where you put your lunchbox and where you hang up your coat…..(old family joke). Love you much, Mom

  5. I LOVE THIS POST!!!! Awesome. even though the building itself is in a state of disrepair, it’s still really pretty overall, esp from the outside. Your camera takes great photos. I love that you went to take a shot from up high. I feel bad – I should’ve warned you about bathrooms in France. I complained about them all the time until I learned that a large number of them don’t have seats (you get good at squatting), there’s hardly ever TP, and even less frequently soap. Seriously, you’re lucky there’s toilet paper in that bathroom – most women carry around those small packages of kleenex, not for blowing their nose, but for the bathroom! And carrying hand sanitizer is a must. I asked my friend about the seats and he said most toilets probably have seats to begin with, but then they either get broken or stolen and the general sentiment is: if people were careless enough that the seat got broken or they didn’t have enough respect and stole it, they don’t deserve to have it replaced. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I thought it was hilarious.

    • Aunt My

      Great pictures! Thank you so much for all the details. Love it! Isn’t it cameras like this that got William and Kate in trouble?

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