the first harrowing day, part 2.

do i even need to say it? i got incredibly lost trying to find the second school, to the point where a few times i considered throwing my hands up in the air and just going back home.

i pressed on, though, and made it, an hour late. again, no one batted an eyelash at this, which was nice.

then once again, the classrooms-children-teachers shuffle. i struggled to stay awake in the classes while the kids half listened, half turned in their seats every once in awhile to gape at me. i didn’t have to Say Or Do Anything, for which i was very grateful.

another recess, and then the day was over!!! i sat at the teacher’s table like a zombie, sipping my coffee and vainly trying to follow the conversation. there were a group of students sitting at desks in the same room, obviously on punishment, and every once in awhile one of the teachers would break the flow of conversation to loudly reprimand one of them for squirming in their seat or whispering to one of their neighbors. this was always done with a mixture of amusement and annoyance, and the other teachers would smirk or nod in agreement, sometimes adding their own input. i immediately put myself in the childrens’ place, having to sit inside while your friends played and shrieked and ran outside in the sunshine, quietly at a wooden desk or standing facing the boring wall, presumably mulling over sins committed in class but really just intrigued over the grown up conversation happening at the teacher’s table, amazed that they actually have lives and things to talk about besides whatever subjects they study in the classroom.

honestly, a few times i had to remind myself that i was, technically, one of them. a teacher, that is. because i pretty much just felt like an interloper, a kid in a grown up’s body trying to act like i belonged there.

when recess ended, the directrice (or so i thought) wondered for awhile where to put me for the last part of the day, and then – oh, wonderful chance! beautiful fate! she decided i should observe the class of the teacher i’d already mentally dubbed as Hot Teacher, who looked rightfully confused, as his class had gym last period. but i went anyway, and he introduced me to the class, explaining that i’d help them learn english, that i myself was learning french, and then let them ask me some questions.

“what is your name?” a big favorite.

“where are you from?” new jersey always gets either blank looks or sage nods that obviously relays their ignorance, so the “very close to new york” addendum was once again required.

“where do you live?” i got lots of oohs and ahhs when i said paris.

thus the day took an abrupt turn for the better, standing outside in the fresh air with the kids, helping watch them bounce basketballs back and forth to each other, and Hot Teacher even let me referee once of the ‘games’ when suddenly the real directrice, who had been absent thus far, asked me to come back to her office so we could discuss the job. i couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed, but i was there to teach english, after all, not play basketball. to be fair, though, i had been keeping score in english.

when we got back to her office, she informed me that i would not be assisting in Hot Teacher’s class, because he already spoke english. sigh.

but i was able to go over all the classes i would have (five!!!!) and she told me not to come in tomorrow (today, which is why i’m lying on my couch writing this and not falling asleep in the back of a classroom again) because they had a lot of figure out. fiiine with me!

so. i have about 67 lesson plans to make this weekend, a lot of teachers  to email, and i have to deal with the very cold, terrifying reality that the “assistant” aspect of my job is an absolute joke. i’m going from ‘i have a lot of experience babysitting, and i tutored two students for a couple months’ to teaching about 9, 10 classes of 20-25 students aged 6-10.

i still can’t speak or understand french as well as i’d like to, or need to, for this job.

on the bright side, i get to see Hot Teacher twice a week, even if i’m not needed in his class. small mercies…


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