2017- A New Year.

Although this is the second consecutive year that I‘ve decided not to make any concrete New Year’s Resolutions, I came back to France from the USA knowing that I needed to take better care of myself. I realize I do not remember much of anything about September-November of this past year; I was completely and utterly overwhelmed and knee-deep in work, trying to figure out what and how I needed to successfully do my job (the severe lack of blog posts is also a subtle indicator.)

I hated the fact that I was struggling (way, way more than I ever let on on this blog)– most notably with classroom management and  with putting concrete plans and objectives into place for seven different levels. I hated admitting to myself that although I’ve had a wide-range of teaching experiences and I am a certified teacher, my new position was an entirely new ball game that required an entirely new and different set of skills. On top of everything else, there were a number of things in my personal life that needed mending and tending to.

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At Le Dandy, a new favorite spot of mine in Lille

Over the Christmas holidays, I spent some time speaking in-depth with a few fellow teachers (most notably, my aunt, aka an AP English teacher who knows her shit; and a former-teacher-now-friend who is now a principal) about my new position and the areas in which I felt I was floundering. I was looking for creative ideas, feedback, and perhaps a bit of reassurance. Needless to say, I came back feeling better about everything- I had a few concrete ideas (most notably- Socratic Seminars, DOL-style bell work for my most difficult classes, writing more thorough lesson plans, and a bit more confidence in myself).

Globally, I feel that my teaching and my classes have been going notably better this term; I had a very successful observation by the Head of School; I feel supported by fellow staff and parents; and I finally have a better sense of routine and time management. I’m trying to force myself to go to bed earlier and to not feel so guilty about not having finished everything that needs to be finished. Even better, I’ve made some really good friends through my new job, and I am feeling more and more confident in front of students and in the classroom. I’m continuing to see a bi-weekly therapist and find that I’m making progress in many areas. However, the one thing I do need to integrate back into my life is exercise- I feel so much better when I exercise but unfortunately I’m not doing nearly enough of it.

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American Day at work with my friend/colleague, Paul

Trump’s inauguration and everything that has happened since then has put me into a state of both hopelessness and hopefulness. My heart was so heavy and full seeing so many people participate in the Women’s March on Washington, but Trump’s streak of executive orders and bans have had me in a slump. I couldn’t attend the Women’s March but I did call my Republican Senator to express my distaste for Trump’s visa ban on seven predominately Muslim countries. I gave a donation to Planned Parenthood in response to Trump’s reinstatement of the Global Gag Rule, and I am staying active on Twitter. I am also trying to do a lot of lessons with my students about today’s current events. I don’t feel as though I am doing my part 100%, but I’m trying to do what I can for now. I plan to take part in sending a post card to my senator’s and continue giving monthly donations to Planned Parenthood.

New Friends

In regards to what’s in store for 2017: As of now I’m signed on to continue teaching at the same international school in Lille next year (and, as long as I don’t do something terribly awful, for as long as I would like). Otherwise, I have plenty to look forward to- I’ve booked tickets for both Harry Potter and the Cursed Child AND Hamilton in London; there are a ton of excellent movies due to come out in the near future (most notably: La La Land, Beauty and the Beast, and Hidden Figures); I’m attempting the new Pop Sugar 2017 Reading Challenge and I’ve joined a English-speaking BOOK CLUB in Lille. I’m seeing my bank account grow (a bit), my student loans go down (a bit), and am hoping to do a bigger international trip this coming summer. For the moment I’m feeling better about France and Lille and the life I’ve created here. I cannot say for certain where I will be in two, three, or five years time, but I’m looking forward to continuing to grow, right here, for a little while longer, and not being afraid of getting too comfortable.

I hope to continue connecting with many of you in 2017.

Wishing you all a fabulous start to the new year! If there are any specific topics or posts you would like to read about in the near future, please drop me a comment or send me a message on social media.

Bisous,

Dana

20 thoughts on “2017- A New Year.

  1. It would be interesting to hear about the culture in Lille and how politically and socially conservative or liberal people tend to be. I’ve visited for a day trip and have met people from there but not lived there like you are.

  2. Hey Dana, just chiming in to say that my first year teaching full-time in French secondary schools was extremely hard too. I suffered and I have no problem saying that now if anyone were to ask me about it. I have friends who had a hard time too, and it’s true that exercise can help. Things like gardening can help too—anything that can calm your mind. I love my job now but classroom management can still be a total b*itch since some classes are just asshats. Also, I think I’ve said it before, but 7 levels all at once is a ton of work. I’m sure you’re doing amazing considering all that’s being thrown at you.

    Time management has been the key to keeping my sanity. All except my first year, and a little bit my second, I have avoided working evenings and weekends.

    So don’t get down on yourself—teaching teenagers is a courageous act and it gets so much better.

    1. Thanks so much Eileen, I really appreciate your kind words and I’m so much more hopeful for the future! I’ve gotten better at classroom management, and parents have been especially supportive (as well as colleagues and blog friends!) Overall I’m enjoying it immensely and look forward to an easier next year. 🙂

  3. Glad to hear things are going a bit better for you. Sometimes the smallest thing can end up giving us the biggest boost. And then like dominos, everything can start to feel like it’s falling into place. 😉

  4. It’s awesome that you can stay put where you are for awhile and get comfortable, if you choose to. I know that change is good (right?) but too much major life jostling can be so unsettling. (Maybe I’m projecting here – I’m craving stability after years of constantly shuffling around.) MAYBE I will make it back to Lille while you are still there if you stay awhile! I miss France.

    I LOVED La La Land – Hugo and I actually saw it on a whim after you posted about it on Facebook. I still have to see Hidden Figures but I heard it was amazing. Also, Cursed Child AND Hamilton?!? Whaaaat??! It sounds like you are going to have an amazing year. xx Bisous

    1. Ohh if you do make it back you are so very welcome here!

      Since I’ve started something so far outside lectrice/assistant life it’s kind of changed the way I see / feel about France ? I’m just embracing that for now. As I said I don’t think it will be forever but hey, for another few years why not.

      I’m so glad you saw and loved La La Land. I’m obsessed!! To be fair, my Cursed Child tickets are for 28-29 dec and Hamilton is for early 2018 but alas… LOL!!

      1. Something fabulous to look forward too!!! I am in major missing France mode right now, but I wasn’t feeling the love so much towards the end (for friends and family, yes, for secondhand smoke everywhere, non!) But nothing I did was ever permanent and I think I really would have been at loose ends this year. I love France but I can’t label myself a Francophile anymore. I’m glad that you’re embracing the shift, and I hope that you’re in for a lovely couple of years in Lille until you move on to whatever the next chapter is. Would you ever blog more about Lille? I love reading about Le Nord!!

      2. I was actually just thinking that I need to blog more about Le nord- I LOVE your series about stuff to do in Lyon.

        I think this new job saved me in a way. I was just so disgusted with the lack of opportunity in France; I think having a mix of expats and French people at my new job helps as well …

        That’s an interesting comment you made about being Francophile. I never thought about it but I think you may be right about myself ..:

        Xo

  5. I can understand to a degree the struggle: even though it’s my second year as a teaching assistant in France, I still feel like I lack the confidence in teaching students. The month of January was particularly rough getting back into the swing of things and with the winter cold (especially in northern France!). But it’s great to see that you’ve taken a step back and reassessed your choices and plans. It’s a learning process, and I don’t think we ever stop doing so, even if we’ve been teaching for decades! Best of luck to you this year, and congratulations on staying on for another year in Lille!

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