so today i went to visit an elementary school very similar (i hope) to the ones at which i’ll be teaching. i gave myself well over an hour to find it, which turned out to be the perfect amount of time because despite finding my administrative office very easily and dropping off the necessary forms, getting to the school itself was another matter. of course, i got lost, but found a group of young children with a teacher at a bus stop who were all too eager to give me directions. yelling over each other, pointing, babbling at me in rapid french – it was adorable. i made it to the school on time, though, and a teacher came outside to unlock the gate (i forgot my master key, of course) and let me in.
there was another english assistant there, which was nice, although i still tried to catch the flow of conversation at the teacher’s table while we waited for the kids to come in from recess. one of the teachers was telling a story about how someone told him tomatoes wouldn’t be expensive, but they were, and then he put them in a fondue, or something, and then i lost interest and went back to talking to the other assistant. bof.
the teacher i was observing was very nice and spoke pretty good english – she told us she did a program very similar to this one awhile ago in ireland, and had the time of her life. when the kids came in they all gave me that half-curious, half-eager look that clearly screams, “oooh, a new person!!!!” and after the teacher told them i was a teaching assistant from america, they immediately began crowding around to show off their english skills – “hello! what is your name!” and when i told them my name, they’d giggle and hide behind their hands, before just repeating the process 15 seconds later. i could barely catch their names, but it clearly didn’t matter; they were more concerned with staring at me and shouting the few english words they knew.
the teacher informed me that it’s very important to be strict with them, to yell at them if necessary, and i nodded and agreed, inwardly wondering if she was trying to tell me to be a bit less smiley, but i couldn’t have stopped grinning if i tried. they were just so cute!
although she conducted the english lessons in french, the kids were very eager and responsive to answer her questions, which was wonderful to see. they went up in groups of threes to chant pre-rehearsed bits of english “hello, my name is kate, i am eight years old!” “hello kate, i am simon and i am seven!” and constantly wiggled around in their seats, turning around at various points to see how i was responding to the lesson. their tapes were from england, so it was funny to hear them try to mimic the (in my opinion, harder to understand) british accent rather than the american one. at one point she let them ask me questions, so there was much more “what is your name?” and also some more “my name is ____” to which i replied, every time, “nice to meet you!” (the teacher made note of this to the class, explaining that it basically meant enchanté(e)) and then a few “you are beautiful!” “i love your hair!” (these were, of course, in french).
at the end of my 45 minutes i was sad to say goodbye, but the teacher told me i was welcome to come back anytime. they all chanted “good bye!!” when i left. charming. absolutely charming. now i’m much more excited to go see my own schools next week.
that is, if i can even get there, because of course, there’s another strike scheduled for tuesday. ah, france…