Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Learning, learning, learning

BONNE MATINNN, family and friends!

I hope that all y'all are doing well! I know that it has been a while since I posted anything, but I have actually been fairly busy for the past few weeks, which has been amazingggggg! But, I am here now! So, buckle up and get ready for a quick walk through my past 3 weeks

My last week of teaching was a little on the weird side. I don't know if it was a full moon or if someone crossed a black cat or something, but it just seemed like it was one thing after another. I was up at the front of one of my classes and just as we started singing, I looked over and saw that one of my students was singing his little heart out with a Popsicle stick hanging from his nose. He wasn't holding it or anythingit was just there. Then, a little later in the week, one of my students was eating an eraser as I was going over how to say different animals in English. I had another student who was enjoying the contents of his nose all throughout class and another was content to chew on his pen lid and give me muffled responses. Honestly, kids can be really gross! It is a good thing that they all make up for it with hugs and kisses and little pictures for me!

As of my last blog post, I had started giving private tutoring to two boys; however, that number has recently been raised to five! I now have a young girl, three middle school aged boys and one older lady who I work with at the school who is looking to improve her English. So, I have been a busy beaver as I plan lessons and try to think of interesting ways to teach my students so that they don't fall asleep with boredom during our hour together. It has been really interesting and I am very much enjoying my time with my students. My newest male student is so nice and SO incredibly nerdyit is very cute! The other day, we were going over how to tell time in English and I started teaching him some vocabulary about the day as we went along. For example, I asked him what time he ate breakfast and as he responded, he practiced his time-telling and learned the new word 'breakfast'. Anyways, generally when I ask my students what time they get up or what time they go to school, I get a pretty generic answer, but not with Pierre. When I asked him what time school began in the morning, he took a few minutes to ponder my question before responding with an answer of: 8h07am because they have announcements, then his teach collects their homework and they, finally, begin class at 8h07! Aaaaand that was how he answered all my questions, with a specificity that I was not expecting! I told him that he could just make something up or round the times out, but no, that would not do at all for him! There were other questions that Pierre had a lot of trouble with too. When I asked him what time he got home from school, I got an 'it depends' response because on Mondays he gets home later than on Wednesdays. For what started as a really simple exercise, Pierre definitely made sure that he was getting his moneys-worth out of our hour together and learned a heck of a lot of vocabulary as a result of his incredibly honest answers!

With my other classes, things are also going pretty well. I'm still waiting for my first bit of eye-contact with my shy little 13 year old, but I am sure that it will be glorious once I finally get him to feel more comfortable with me! However, he and his brother are both doing well. Sometimes we get a bit stumped as a result of their little English and my little French, but we work through it. Justine is at the same level as Axell and Bernadette is miles ahead of all of them since she is a bit older. So, I'm definitely being challenged to find out how to prepare English classes for students between the ages of 6 (my youngest students as school) to 45 (my oldest tutoring student)! I'm pretty sure that I'm learning just as much as my students!

It isn't all sunshine, rainbows and unicorns though. Last Tuesday, I had one of the worst classes thus far. It was my CM2 class, which is the oldest kids in the school. Usually they are pretty good and, although they occasionally get a little bit boisterous, they generally listen to me and at least learn a little bit. I'm pretty sure that no one learned a single thing in this class. I could have cried in the middle of class because they were just being so terrible and this is my class where I take half to the library and do everything on my own. So, I didn't even have the teacher for back-up. Anyways, the next day was Wednesday and I always have Wednesdays off, so I spent a really long time planning for my next lesson with the kids, trying to make it interesting and engaging. I also wrote this whole speech out on paper about how I know that I'm not their teacher, but I am like a teacher and they need to listen and respect me. I talked about how English was important and that the next class, they had to be better or I was only going to do flashcards with them for the rest of the year. I wrote down everything that I wanted to say because I find when I'm stressed or anxious, my French skills just go right out the window. Anyways, yesterday, I marched to that class all prepared to teach those kids just how tough Janice the Language Assistant is, but as soon as I walked through the door, two of the girls that had given me the most trouble came up and apologized for their behaviour and the boy that was misbehaving wasn't even present. So, I gave the class a cliff's notes version of my speech and we ended up having a great lesson. The kids chatted a bit, but they were so much better than the week before. Thank goodness!

In addition to teaching and tutoring, I was able to do a bit of sightseeing with my cousin, Ren e, the other weekend! She was able to get some time off work and caught a cheap flight down from Amsterdam for the weekend of the 18th. We tried couchsurfing for the first time (Couchsurfing is a website where people can post if they have a couch available for a traveller or backpacker to crash on for a few nights for free) and it turned out really well! Although the house was definitely student living, everyone that we met there was incredibly nice! I met two girls from the Ukraine who are studying in Toulouse, one Australia guy who was backpacking throughout Europe, a Polish couple that was in for the weekend and a girl around my age who is currently living and working in Bordeaux. We really hit it off and we are going to try and plan a hiking trip through the Pyrenees Mountains together in April! I am SO hoping that it works out! Anyways, Ren e and I had a great time seeing the different sights of Bordeaux, learning how to play poker, being taught magic tricks by one of our hosts and just being able to hang out. This marks the 5th time in our lives that Ren e and I have been able to hang out and, usually, our visits are roughly 4 years apart. Being able to see Ren e at Christmas and then again so soon was pretty great, not gonna lie!

Well, other than that, not too much has been happening. My French is slowly progressing and I am currently looking for summer jobs in France, so keep your fingers crossed that I am able to find something soon I'm also doing a little bit of planning because my friend Ashleigh is coming for a visit in February and another friend, Heather, is coming in March AND I am hoping to be able to swing a visit to Ireland to see my friend Kieran when he is there in March as well! All my weekends are slowly starting to fill up! It is a good thing that I will be on another two week holiday as of the 15th of February because then I will actually be able to hang out with my guests a little bit!

The weather here hasn't been the nicest, but it is mostly rainy these daysnothing like the cold that you Canadians are all having right now. I'm sending you all incredible amounts of warm vibes!

Lots of love,


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