My first week of teaching went splendidly! I really feel very welcomed by all of my colleagues and my students alike! I am teaching at a professional high school (stay tuned for a post explaining the French school system) located in Toulon, but on the other side of the city. There is a direct bus line that goes from about a block away from my place to my school, which will be nice in the winter. But for the meantime I am riding my bike (I bought a bike in a used bike store during my first week). Overall the commute takes me about thirty minutes each way, but I don’t mind! Toulon has wonderful bike trails that surround the city and go through the woods, almost directly to the high school where I am teaching. Not to mention, it is still in the low seventies so I am trying to enjoy the weather while I can!
I teach 12 different classes (12 hours total) on Mondays, Tuesday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. However, I teach the same class multiple times, so really I have four different preps. My students are the equivalent to high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors, as well as BTS students, who are between the ages of 18-21 and are earning the equivalent of an Associates Degree. (I told you the French system was quite different!)
This week I have been adjusting to the culture that is French schools. I just did simple introduction activities and ice breakers, but the main reason I am here is to be a native speaker working on English speaking exercises with the students. The BTS students have very complicated and demanding English oral exams at the end of the year, where they are required to use specific vocabulary related to engineering, the water system, the Internet, etc. so, I am here to bring authentic input and to make them talk. My terminal students (high school seniors) are actually very strong, and I am free to sort of do what I want with them in terms of planning. My sophomores are nice kids. They are in a special section of European English and are a bit more motivated than others simply because they chose to take this particular course.
Most classes I will be splitting with teachers– I have my own classroom (YAY!), so I will either take 1/2 the class for 30 minutes and then switch, or I take half the class for the entire hour and then the other half the week after to teach the same lesson (which makes prepping, planning, and reflecting a lot less time consuming). Overall I have very nice students and so far I look forward to going to work everyday; it feels good to be back in the classroom! Even better, I was also already asked to chaperon a class trip to Wales in April!
I also got a second teaching job and two separate tutoring gigs to earn extra cash! Two British women who live here in Toulon run an English-speaking nursery school, and I guess every year they hire assistants to help them out. Well, they googled “Assistants in Toulon” and came across my blog, and alas I got the gig! I teach at this school for two hours on Wednesday afternoon (four 30 minute sections of English with 6-year-olds and then 4-year-olds). I also tutor a 13-year old girl that the British women set me up with on Wednesday evenings for one hour. Coincidentally, this week I was supposed to be searching for a French doctor, and the this girl’s parents are BOTH doctors, so they squeezed me in at their office the next day and helped me fill out my paperwork for the social security and medical reimbursement system. When I left, they set me up with another woman looking for a tutor for her daughter. Yeah for networking!
I am hoping to add on a few more tutoring gigs as November creeps up on us. I have one more week of work and then two weeks of holidays! So far I have a 5-day trip planned to Barcelona, but otherwise I am free! I have a few options in mind, including visiting the French family in Toulouse (and Sarah & Aldric) and/or just discovering the beautiful region of France in which I’m living. Overall, all is well.