Yesterday, the first day at my third school. I wrote on my Twitter status previously “Should be good je pense.” How wrong one person can be!? Never have I ever been as stressed as I was yesterday. The first two lessons were a breeze, I was used as a sort of pronunciation prop and the children appeared to love me, one little girl in my youngest class told me I was “très jolie et anglais”, which, for all you none francophones, means “very lovely and English”.
As it slowly became time for the third class I was instilled with confidence and the teacher seemed lovely, greeting me with “coucou” rather than the traditional, and more formal “bonjour”. I was introduced to the class and then the teacher promptly told me she was talking half of the class for sport and I would have the other half for English, after dinner it would be swapsies. POW. There was the punch in the face I hadn’t been expecting. I tried to explain to her that this week was my observation week and that I hadn’t got anything planned as I have no idea of the level of the children… hence the observation. She then told me she speaks no English and that I would find something. “Allez y” she yells, and half the class jump up and head outside for sport, leaving me stood, racking my brains in front of 12 tough critics. I asked them if they knew numbers – they counted. I asked them if they knew the ’10 Little Indian Boys’ song – they sang. I asked them if they knew what this is *held up a pen* – they told me. Aaaaah what else do I do!?! With 30 mins of a 45 mins lesson still remaining. Okay, my failsafe, ‘Heads Shoulders Knees & Toes’ every French kid loves it…. not this class apparently. They stood up, did the song once and then all sat themselves down. “Assieds-toi” I mumbled to myself. I stood at the front nervously thinking of songs, rhymes, stories but none came to me. “I know you can count… but can you count backwards? 10 jusqu’a 1?” They all looked at me in anticipation of some horrendous song that I was going to force upon them. They were right. I made them all stand at the front, 10 of the children were green bottles, the other 2 children chose which of their friends were the bottle that would fall down. We played this a few times and then the bell rang and it was time for recreation. Wahooo. They all ran off to play in the yard and no doubt spread the word about the new, incompetant English assistant. I gathered my stuff up and rushed home to spend my dinner break researching games for the class that were playing sport.
When I returned and had the second half of the class the children were more inquisitive! Great, that wastes a good 10 minutes of the lesson! Then we played a team game. Boys versus girls, “what is this?” “a book” great girls get a point. However girls got chatty so bonus points were awarded to boys and the boys won in the end, after one little girl, obviously fed up of losing points to the boys, threatened to scotch tape another little girls mouth up. Okay. ‘Heads, shoulders, knees and toes’ time – they asked if I could do it fast because Roxanne knows a man who can do it so fast. “No, I can’t” I replied to which they laughed at me. There’s no way I’m standing in front of a class of sniggering 9 year olds doing H,s,k&t at a stupid speed to prove I’m better than the man that Roxanne knows. Simon says! “it’s the same as Jacques a dit” I promptly told them and they cheered. “Simon says touch your head….. touch your knee” The whole class touched their head….. and then touched their knee. Damn it, that’s that game over! ’10 Green bottles’ worked better in this half of the class than the previous half, they were fighting over who could be the selector and trying to out-sing each other. I had to separate 2 girls who kept talking, thus showing them they couldn’t mess with me and I think I gained the classes respect. Great recovery!
After that class was break time again, as I stood in the yard a small crowd gathered around me trying to impress me with their English skills “hello!!” “what’s your name?” One girl started to tell me about her dog in French “that’s great”, I replied, “what’s he called?”…… “he’s dead” she replied. O! Saved by the bell. The children scatter to their lines and I wander to my next class, the teacher is nice and friendly, the children have more energy than I’ve ever seen. The class was slightly chaotic but the children were enjoying it so I guess that’s all that matters.
On my way home I called past the pâtisserie and indulged in a pastry, I deserved it, alright?! When I got in I got ready, ate my pastry and then headed to my friend’s room to exchange stories of our day and prepare ourself for the party in our accommodation. We headed down the stairs with our, Monoprix bought, cake and joined in the chatting with people of various different cultures and languages, making several new acquaintances, including my neighbour, who can in fact hear my singing occasionally. Damn it!
When I finally got into my bed that evening, after a quick visit to the Irish bar, I felt a relief wash over me that I don’t have to face that class for another week and that one of the most stressful days of my life so far was over. Jacques didn’t even have to dit me to go to sleep, as soon as my head hit the pillow I was gone.