You asked for it, you got it! “My teaching duties” had the most votes in the poll at the right (you can still vote, by the way! I’m always adding new options as I think of them!), so it must be what you all want to hear about!
If I had to sum up my experience teaching here in two words, they would be FUN and FRUSTRATING. Teaching the kids is really fun- I’m a welcome change from their normal teacher and subjects, so the students generally like it when I teach, and I get to do a lot of cool topics. For example, recently I’ve done several lessons on Thanksgiving and Christmas. However, it is also frustrating. When I was a student teacher, I felt on top of my game. I knew all my students, I knew exactly when I was going to be in class every day, and I was mostly in charge. Here… it’s pretty much the exact opposite. I do have a weekly schedule, but it’s constantly changing, and I have so many students that it’s basically impossible to learn any of their names, which I hate. Plus, it’s difficult to get to know any of my students or classes well because I’m only with them one hour a week, if that. I’m working on it though, which allows me to tailor lessons to a class’ specific interests and ability level. For example, I know I’ve had at least one class in the past that’s all musicians and dancers… once I figure out which class that was, I would LOVE to do a lesson tying into that, like a Christmas lesson all about music!
In my set weekly timetable, I have 11 hours scheduled. I’m technically supposed to work 12 hours a week but that’s just how it worked out with my schedule- we allowed one hour for random classes that teachers would like me to come into. However, I would say I never work exactly 12 hours in a week, it’s always a little more or a little less. My school doesn’t stress about me being there my required numbers of hours in a week, which is great, and in turn I don’t complain about weeks that I’m there more. There are three classes a week where I trade off every other week, so that means I have 14 classes that I see regularly (every week or every two weeks), and then almost every week I go into at least one other random class just to talk on a specific topic or as a “special treat” (I tell you, the kids love having me there! The benefits of being young and “cool,” haha). If I have an average of 15 students in a class, that’s 210 students that I see regularly, plus all my extra random classes… that’s a lot of students! No wonder I often see my kids around town.
The other evening I was walking to the tram stop and a group of 3 boys was walking toward me. I heard one of them say “C’est la prof!” (“It’s the teacher!”) as we approached each other and then one of them was like, “Salut!” (“Hi!”) and we had a short exchange as we walked by each other. I’ve also seen some students some other random places around town and it always surprises them to see me out and about. They always enjoy saying hi to me though, most of the time in English! Many of them say hi to me as they see me walking around school too. It makes me feel good that they say hi to me, even when I don’t recognize them! I just smile and say hi back.
I do a variety of different things in my classes here. For the first couple of weeks, it was mostly me introducing myself and having them ask me questions- boy, did I get tired of talking about myself! Oh and I suppose I should note, this is all in English. Some classes are a lot better in English than others, but they’re all proficient enough to carry on a basic conversation. I always make sure to talk slowly, write on the board, use gestures, and check for comprehension though. The only French used in the classes I teach is to explain English words they don’t know, or when they speak French, I respond to them in English. In some classes, I’ve been having one-on-one or one-on-two conversations with the students. In one class, it’s just been chatting so far, just to make them more comfortable with conversation. In another class, they do a presentation on a certain theme and explain a text of their choosing with it- this is to prepare them for the new English oral part of the Bac (which I’ll write more about if I do a post about the French education system).
Lately, I’ve been teaching more classes on my own. The teacher is always there, which is nice for when they don’t know an English word and I don’t know the French word for it. On that note, I CANNOT imagine trying to teaching English as a foreign language to a group of people whose native language I don’t know. That would be impossible. So anyway, the teacher is always there, but I mostly run classes on my own, usually for an hour at a time. I present on different topics; many times, it’s on facets of American culture, like holidays, the education system, or the elections. Sometimes I teach on topics that they have been studying, like Frankenstein, Hemingway, or famous scientists. In one class, I did a lesson on tongue twisters to help them work on their pronunciation, and this week to work on modal verbs (can/should/would/could/etc.), I did a lesson with detective stories. It really just depends on what the teacher wants me to do.
As I mentioned at the beginning, teaching here can be frustrating… the worst part is figuring out my schedule. Often times, the teachers don’t need me in a certain class that I’m scheduled for, but they don’t tell me (I get it, they’re busy, but it does frustrate me sometimes). I have taken to emailing all the English teachers every Sunday. I include what I have down for my schedule for the week and what, if anything, each teacher has asked me to specifically prepare. Then I ask them to tell me if they don’t need me any of the hours I have down, if they need me more hours, or if they want me to prepare something special. This has helped quite a lot, but there are some teachers who don’t check their email and therefore don’t email me back, leading to me showing up when I’m not needed (happened this week!). But that doesn’t happen nearly as often now as it did in the beginning, which I’m grateful for!
Well, that’s all I can think of to share right now… what, if anything, are you still interested in hearing about in regards to my teaching duties? Oh, one more thing: the students I work with are anywhere from age 15 to 18, with a few 18-to-20-year-olds, and have been studying English since they were about 10.
Let me know what else you would like to know! If you’d like to learn more about my school and see more photos, you can check out this post.