On Monday, I attended my first day of staff meetings at the new school. These meetings are held in French, so it was quite a long day of staring off into space. Later I discovered, there are bigger problems than being clueless in meetings. Such as, being asked to introduce myself, in front of an auditorium of French (and not evening knowing my name was being called, because now I’m Co-H-rEE). Or, not knowing that there would be an additional meeting, in another room, and walking in late, or (opps!) not attending at all (it only happened once). Or, being so delirious from the exhaustion put forth from feigning comprehension, that when another English teacher pointed out a curse word on the desk, I caught such a severe case of the giggles I almost had to leave the room. I realize now, I’m not even entirely sure who my boss is, or where the closest toilet is.
The classroom set-up was completely different experience than in the US. The theory here is, keep it simple so the students can focus on the task-at-hand, and not become distracted by their surroundings. I have to say, at first I was a little sad because this can be a really fun process; choosing a theme, personalizing the students space, etc. But upon reflection, it was one HUGE thing off my list, and a HUGE chunk left in my wallet. It also allowed me to plan extensively for the year, which I was really grateful for. I felt ready for the arrival of the students..
Which was today. It was fantastic. They are mostly Italian kiddos, coming to learn a standard curriculum in French and English. They are absolutely brilliant. Though there were a few tears, it was an incredible day overall. I find it is much easier to understand a 4 year old speaking italian. The downside is I’m not supposed to speak to them in Italian, and I’m so eager to practice; what a forgiving audience! The teachers lunch break is from 11:20-1, so I joined a group and headed to a local cafe. After a coursed meal and a coffee, we went back rejuvenated. When I arrived, I had another hour, as now the kids were sleeping (I’m telling you, trying to learn a new language is EXHAUSTING). It was so bizarre, I almost had nothing to do. I’m provided a classroom assistant and a Italian teacher (to reinforce their mother-toung), so I am not even allowed to clean or set-up stations. The afternoon rolled out peacefully, and I left with a big “Bonjour!” to the receptionist. Hey, we can’t win ’em all.