La Dernière Rentrée?

I’m a teacher, which means my interpretation of when exactly the year “begins” (September) and “finishes” (June) is slightly  different from the rest of the Western world. It’s hard to fathom that we are already a solid month into classes. Unfortunately, with the annual back-to-school kickoff comes the lingering, stomach-churning question– “Will this be my last French rentrée?”

I am trying to make a constant effort to live “in the now” instead of always worrying about the next thing, but lately I haven’t been able to help it. Living in a place where you need a visa to work, sometimes it’s impossible not to always be planning out the next move. This is my third year teaching and living in France; I’ve completed one year as an assistante and will have done two as a lectrice. When it comes to staying in France to teach, unless I want to be an assistante again I am basically out of options, except if I wanted to sign up for the CAPES-CAFEP (the Master’s program to prepare for the concours, highly competitive exam to teach in France’s private schools, as I am American and do not have the right to teach in the public sector), or am miraculously hired at one of the American/British International Schools with my US teaching degree AND am sponsored a visa, I’ll be out of options.

Needless to say, I’m trying to find an appropriate balance between enjoying this year as well as starting to apprehensively think towards the next one. I am in a good place; I am already settled and established in France as well as at work, but I’ve been given more responsibilities this year, including planning and executing an 18-hour curriculum for Master’s students. I’m comfortable with the right amount of challenge, which I enjoy.

It’s a bit of a shame, really, because after changing cities and moving from one place to the next no less than five times in the last two years, I’ve really come to like Lille, and have started to make it my home. In all honesty I wish I could be a lectrice for a little while longer, but I suppose it will be good to be forced to move on, instead of becoming too comfortable. As of now, there are quite a few cards on the table, including:

  1. Obtaining QTS status in the UK (basically, changing my US teaching degree to a UK equivalent and applying to work in England’s schools).
  2. Attending international teaching recruitment fairs in London
  3. Moving to teach in South Korea with EPIK
  4. Trying to stay and teach in France (private schools, contractuel positions)


I guess, no matter what I decide to do or where I decide to go, I hope that if and when I do leave France, it will be my choice; that I will leave with the feeling of satisfaction, dignity, and closure– having felt that I had come to France with a goal in mind and achieved it. I don’t want to leave kicking and screaming, begging the border controllers to let me stay, or, even worse, feeling that I had grossly and desperately overstayed my welcome. If and when I leave France, want to walk out on my own terms, my head held high with no regrets. For the moment, only time will tell.



11 thoughts on “La Dernière Rentrée?

  1. Holy Toledo we were just talking about this the other day!! What a coincidence 😛 I’m so excited to keep following your journey, Dana. You’re an inspiration and I can’t wait to see where life takes you. À bientôt, alors 🙂 Xx

  2. hi Dana, you don’t know me. I’m a French English teacher, currently working in Vienna. That’s why I like reading your blog, because we have lots of things in common (unfortunately not the age, I’m in my forties).

    Regarding your situation, have you thought of preparing the Agreg? Then I don’t think you need to be French/European. I’m sure you can get a student visa. While working in France a few years ago, I became friends with an American assistant (to make a long story short, he became my sons ‘adopted big bro”) and like you , he didn’t want to go back after 2 years as assistant (he still lives in Paris). He’s become a real businessman now but at one point he wanted to become a teacher. At the time I was working with the inspectors (for the bac/BTS and so on) and I asked them the question. Having met him, they told me that he could become a teacher (contractuel of course, meaning badly-paid). In Normandy there’s a shortage of English teachers…. So maybe you could try to ask for an appointment, I’m sure they would be interested in keeping someone as motivated as you (in the public sector)! Then, as your French becomes more fluent you can try the Agreg or Capes (externe or Interne). Hope it helps,


    Le 28/09/15 23:48, As Told By Dana a écrit : > > > a:hover { color: red; } a { text-decoration: none; color: #0088cc; } a.primaryactionlink:link, a.primaryactionlink:visited { background-color: #2585B2; color: #fff; } a.primaryactionlink:hover, a.primaryactionlink:active { background-color: #11729E !important; color: #fff !important; } /* @media only screen and (max-device-width: 480px) { .post { min-width: 700px !important; } } > */ > > > > > Dana posted: “I’m a teacher, which means my interpretation of when exactly the year “begins” (September) and “finishes” (June) is slightly different from the rest of the Western world. It’s hard to fathom that we are already a solid month into classes. Unfortunately, ” > > > >

    1. Hi Laurence! Thanks for your comment and thanks for reading! This is really sound advice! Yes, I am going to try for contractuel positions; my only drawback is that I don’t have a Master’s Degree, which is very important in France (and it’s very frustrating.)

      I know I could try for the agreg / student visa, but I believe only for the private sector again (very frustrating!) I just need to look at finances because supporting myself on a student visa while studying and not working isn’t very foreseeable for the moment; only time will tell! Hope to hear from you!

  3. I feel similarly. It’s hard being constantly uprooted without having the choice. Five moves in two years is a LOT!
    Visa issues aside, I feel like being a lectrice is such a good gig that it would be hard to move on to something equal or better in France (without passing the CAPES or doing a Masters from scratch). I don’t necessarily want to continue teaching but I think it would be tough to get anyone in France to give me a chance at doing something else, given how difficult it is to change professional lanes here.
    Could the Franco-American young professionals visa help with getting a job at an international school? (

    1. yes, that’s it! it’s the idea of having to uproot without choice.

      I agree as well that a lectrice gig is such a good one that if we weren’t forced to leave after 2 years, I’m afraid no one ever would! I don’t think I could be an assistant again, both professionally and financially that doesn’t make any sense. I do want to continue teaching but I”m not sure in which direction to take my career… I’ve looked into the Franco-American visa; it seems that it’s not really used for teaching but you’re definitely right in trying!! 🙂 thanks for the idea 🙂

      1. It’s tiring! And with the legal stuff you really have to start figuring out the next year right as you get the current one settled because it takes time, so you’re always like, crap, what am I going to do next year? This year it was such a relief not to have to do that for once. I’ve seen a lot of private language schools on the Franco-American list of companies that hired Americans, but I guess it would be different for an international school… (and going back to teaching at language schools after being a lectrice is kind of my idea of hell). Today at DIRECCTE when I went to pick up my autorisation de travail, I asked the lady if there was any way I could keep working next year if I had a work contract offer, and she said that if my carte de séjour status was “salarié” that I could go straight through the préfecture without DIRECCTE’s approval. But on the whole she was unhelpful – she was like, well you can take your dossier in, and then you’ll just have to see what happens. Great, thanks. But she made it seem like it wouldn’t be impossible to keep working without a poste d’étranger.

      2. I’m sorry I forgot to reply to this message sooner– but that’s really interesting that there are private schools who will hire Americans under this visa… would you be able to send me a link to this list?? I’ve been scouring the website but alas have found nothing… very unlike me!

        That’s also so interesting about what they said at the direct… I think my carte will be good through October, so a little leeway to find work! It gives me hope! I guess we’ll see, although I don’t think it would be too bad to jet off to South Korea for a year if I could come back for school after saving a bit more money! x

      3. I sent you the list of places that have previously hosted American workers on this visa – I realized I got it via an email, not on their website, sorry about that!

        My carte de sejour cuts me off right after my contract ends, no fair! South Korea does sound pretty awesome… and much better paid than France. Tales from South Korea would be fascinating.

      4. Thank you so much for this!!

        We’ll see where the world takes me, I’m curious to see where I’ll end up (but I’m scared to leave this country!)

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