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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 🙂
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…
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.
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!)
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.
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!!
And a close up of the front door…
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).