Wednesday, October 28, 2009

La vie quotidienne - jeudi et vendredi

THURSDAY

Up at the crack of 7.15 or so for my longest day - 5 hours at school, of which 4 are teaching.

I start from 9-10 am with another class with Mme G. (she of Monday mornings). I get to go to a room of my own for this and she sends students one by one to do their oral presentations for about 15 mins at a time, I correct them, that is that. Easy as pie, no preparation required. :)

10-11 I have class with Mme T. This is one of those classes where I'm not sure what's going on and I feel a bit like a spare part (not as much as on Fridays though). I work with Mme T. in the classroom - last week I presented a quiz on New Zealand, which worked pretty well (have done it with three classes so far) and then Mme T. split the class into two groups to discuss a painting by Norman Rockwell. Fun fact: the French school system is positively obsessed with Norman Rockwell. Apparently he holds the key to understanding the totality of American culture, despite being (in my opinion) hackneyed and dull. In line with this dull-and-hackneyedness, I found it very difficult to think of anything to talk about vis-a-vis this painting: it wasn't my job to do the talking, but the students didn't have much to say either and it was hard to lead the discussion when I pretty much agreed with their silence. Little bits of Mme T.'s group's much more focussed discussion kept drifting over to me and making me feel useless and inexperienced, which of course I am (inexperienced, at any rate).

Then I have an inconveniently-placed 11-12 lunch-break. I suppose it's good for avoiding the seemingly mandatory 12-2 closing of all the shops, should I have anything to purchase at this time. But anyway, then it's back to teaching.

From 12-2 I have two small group conversation classes with prepa students. Prepa students (now this truly is insane) choose to spend two extra years at school after they pass the final Bac exam. This is so they can study hard and sit a nationwide competitive exam at the end of it in the hope of getting into the best universities. Now there's dedication for you! Accordingly, these students are expected to be willing to give up an hour of their lunchtimes to come and have voluntary extra English classes with me. Last week no-one turned up for the 1-2 pm hour, so that shows how well that works out! I suppose it was the second to last day before holidays... No-one ever told me what to do if students didn't come, but I just waited for 15 minutes and then went home, so long may they continue skipping class! Anyway, the first hour is the litteraire bunch again - I had them for the first time last week, and contrary to my expectations that they would be particularly adept at languages, they kinda sucked (well the 3 that turned up, anyway). It was like pulling teeth getting them to talk (using the same game that I had used with great success with the 1-2 group the week before), they frequently couldn't understand me, made basic mistakes etc. etc. So that was painful and I'm hoping for a different group next week. Making mistakes is fine, but if people just don't talk it's awkward and sucky for all. I had the 1-2 group the week before that, these are the business stream, and the 3 girls who came were awesome! Chatty, pretty good at English, lots of fun. I would like all the conversation groups to be like them! I hope next time I don't just get a completely different bunch who suck as well.

FRIDAY

Another slow start to the day, I don't have class until 1 pm. 1-2 is class with Mme M. who is a lot nicer than I thought at first when I was given her details as my contact person, and since she wasn't actually doing it this year, she just didn't reply to any of my emails or pass them on to my actual contact person. That's still totally arse though. This is another class where I have to work in the classroom with Mme M. and the whole class. Last Friday was more of me just awkwardly hovering on the sidelines with nothing to do for ages, then I took half of the class and listened to them present on newspaper articles. Nothing too exciting.

2-3 I have class with Mme B. who is just the nicest lady ever! When the students talk over each other (and they do, it's kinda annoying) she looks mournful and says something like "Don't you want to listen to your friends", it cracks me up. Her classes are also always interesting - she gets the students to prepare presentations on fun topics like concepts for reality TV shows. The downside is that I feel like a complete spare part in this class. Last week the students just did their presentations and I sat there and did nothing. Then Mme B. critiqued them, and I pretty much still sat there and did nothing, although she did ask me to point out some mistakes, at which point I did my best goldfish impression because, although I had taken some notes during the presentation, suddenly they were completely useless and I couldn't remember what they meant etc. etc. and then my hour is up and I have to leave in the middle of the class, which always makes me feel like I'm slinking out.

So anyway, as you can see, there's a lot of variety in what I'm expected to do and I'm not quite settled in to it all yet. Not much actual getting up in front of a class and teaching there, but I think in due course I will be expected to present more stuff in the classes where it's me and the teacher and the whole class, I think they're easing me into it a bit. The lines of communication are pretty poor and I only usually see the teachers in class time when they're busy teaching, so I very often just turn up to class with no clue as to whether they expect me to have something ready to go or not. I've tried to prepare a variety of exercises and themes so I can whip out something if need be and not be a total fail.

We often go out to town on Friday nights, which is a total pain because after 9 there's only one bus an hour home, and they stop at 1.10, which is a real struggle for me because I want to stay out all night! This means Saturday is often spent 'resting' and then yeah, Sunday's Sunday, whatevs. And that's my life thus far...

Last night I went out salsa dancing, which was fun although I pretty much sucked. It was a nice club though, it was nice to find somewhere that was full of (as far as I could tell) mainly locals and French people instead of English-speaking tourists like the places we always seem to wind up at on Friday/Saturday nights (partly because there are not a lot of clubs in Nice at all for some reason). And it was packed out on a Tuesday night! Might go again in future, I have Wednesdays off of course, so nothing stopping me other than money and laziness. Talking of which, have really done nothing of note with my holidays, and may very well not today either, considering I got to bed at about 1.30 last night and for some reason woke up at about 8 this morning, which cries out for an afternoon nap. Why do holidays always go by so fast??

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