I realized I hadn’t posted about the assistantship in a long time, so here’s a summary of what I’ve been doing at work lately:
On Tuesdays, I have all secondes (10th grade), so I try to focus on vocabulary and pronunciation. We’ve done geography of the US, describing people, and American high schools in the past few weeks. I make sure each student speaks, even if it is just a few sentences. But seeing as how I have either half or a third of the class each week, I get bored easily since I do the same lesson hour after hour and week after week. But at least now they know that the US is huge compared to France (yes, Texas really is bigger than France), Anglophones are not going to understand them when they say “I’m wearing baskets” (des baskets are sneakers), and that sports really are more important than education for some Americans.
On Thursdays, I work at a middle school and sometimes with the SEGPA classes. SEGPA students are supposed to have memory/behavior/social problems, but I rarely see a difference between them and the “regular” students. To me, they’re all just hyper pre-teens who don’t want to be at school. A part of me wonders if labeling kids as “at-risk” does them any good at all. Some kids may think that they will be considered that way for their entire lives, so why not live up to the stereotype? Be loud and disrespectful, don’t even attempt your work, try not to learn anything because you have no chance of going to a regular high school anyway. You’ll only be able to go to a professional high school, which are also stigmatized as being for under-achieving students. It just doesn’t seem very fair to the kids, because really, don’t all kids have some sort of memory/behavior/social problems? It’s called growing up.
Lastly, on Fridays, I work with première (11th grade) and terminale (12th grade) students. These students have to take an oral exam at the end of the year in which they will be given a document (painting, political cartoon, ad, poem, etc.) that they have never seen before, and talk about it for 10 minutes. They only have 10 minutes to prepare their speech. Obviously students need to practice preparing and speaking or they are never going to pass their exam, but that doesn’t mean they will actually try this in class… Even when I give them an exact sentence that they can use in their speech – The document I’m going to talk to you about is a political cartoon entitled “The Blame Game” – they still will not actually say it out loud in English. ::sigh:: I just don’t know what to do with them. To be fair, I think the exam is stupid and pointless because they are never going to have to explain a political cartoon in English in everyday life, but they knew that they were going to have to do this exam before they signed up to take English!
This past week, there was a national strike on Thursday, somewhat as a follow-up to the strike back in November. It wasn’t very suivi though, so I did have to work. I only had between 3 and 5 students in my classes, which was nice because that gave each one the opportunity to practice speaking without 15 other students interrupting them. Apparently when there’s a strike, absences aren’t counted, so a lot of students decide to skip out for the day.
My schedule is supposed to change after February 8, one week before the winter vacation. I’m hoping to no longer have to work 8 am to 6 pm every Tuesday because it wipes me out. I go to bed as soon as I get home, and don’t really do much on Wednesdays. I don’t know how teachers who live an hour away can work 10 hours a day the entire week and not be walking zombies. I can barely survive one day of it.
So I have 3 weeks left before vacation, and 6 weeks left of work after that. Ça passe vite !