A Little Bit of This…A Little Bit of That

Ahh, nothing could have made my weekend start off better than a wonderful morning at work…which is exactly what I had today! I mentioned in my last post, but during September I am only working Saturday mornings and then I have some training during the week. So this morning I had my second “Very Early Learners” class and it was all about opposites. We had two extra boys today for a total of 5 children (all between 18-36 months), so it was a little hectic, what with 5 active and excited children, but overall it felt great, and I was even sad when the class ended (that’s a first for my new job!!)!

This past week has been really encouraging for me overall. Besides getting used to my new job, I have also been noticing an improvement in my French. I think the main reason for that is because my confidence has grown. I haven’t been afraid to speak with others, even if I am unsure of the vocabulary or grammar…I’ve just been trying anyways! This is a huge thing for me as a perfectionist, because I typically don’t try to speak if I don’t already know how to say things correctly. And this morning, as I was speaking with one of the parents, she assumed I was English instead of American, because Americans have really strong accents but mine isn’t so strong apparently! Seriously, any compliment I receive about my accent is the best compliment I could ever desire, and I never forget them, either. Last month at Connect, one of my German friends was trying to help me pronounce bunten Abend (“talent show”–my German-speaking readers will have to tell me if I spelled that wrong!), and she said I pronounced it like a French person! You can only imagine how ecstatic that made me! And now that I feel more confident about my French, I am making Matt speak to me only in French today (he really prefers to speak in English, but whenever he does I just say, “Non, je comprends pas…” Ha), and I love it! I love catching myself thinking in French or even accidentally replying to someone in French when they ask me a question in English. It shows that I’m advancing.

So yeah, life is good. God has blessed my husband and I, and our life here in France, and I am so very thankful for everything :) Yesterday I babysat my niece, and we took some pictures that I feel describe my emotions perfectly…

Titicollage

Have a good weekend, everyone!

My first week is over!

Ahh. It’s Saturday, and that means that I have no more classes or tutoring sessions to prepare for a while. I can just sit here and read (I haven’t picked up a book/my Kindle since Sunday!) or watch Star Trek: Into Darkness over and over again (I am not ashamed. That movie is amazing). Basically, IT’S THE WEEKEND! And I haven’t looked forward to the weekend like this since my college days.

This week ended quite well, especially considering how stressful it started out. The day after my last post I had an absolutely wonderful morning: I talked to that one boy’s father and he behaved almost perfectly the rest of the week, I felt more confident in my teaching abilities, and I was able to connect more easily with the children after having gotten to know them better. And the BEST part was seeing their improvement along the way! I had one little boy who wouldn’t even say his own name to me, and by Thursday he was playing in our games, saying please & thank you, and even telling me how old he is (all in English, of course)! And the teenager I tutored? He was great the entire week, and I can definitely tell he had fun with the games we played and the conversations we had.

Then this morning I had my first “Very Early Learners” class, where there were two 3 year olds. I will be doing this class for the next four Saturdays, but it’s technically training for me. I was extremely nervous this morning, mainly because the parents stayed with their children and we had to communicate with them in French about our pedagogy, trying to reassure them if the children didn’t start speaking in English right away. Fortunately my “trainer”/co-worker took over that part and she helped me along during the session so I wasn’t completely alone.

So all-in-all I had a decent week. The important thing is that it ended well, and this month I will only be doing the toddler class along with some training to help me during the regular school year. I will also be figuring out which classes/ages I will be teaching and the good thing is that it won’t be everyday. Even though I won’t make as much as I did this week, I will be exponentially less stressed, and that’s what’s more important to me. I want to enjoy my job and have fun with the children. I don’t want to be up to my elbows in preparation materials every single night, cutting out lady bug hats and listening to 5 different hello songs until midnight. Just the fact that I couldn’t even open a book this week speaks volumes: I read every day! So yes, I’m quite looking forward to more of a part-time schedule; my job is, after all, only part-time.

On Friday I was speaking with one of my other newly hired co-workers, and her week was similar to mine, only it didn’t end well. She’s not going to teach any group classes this school year and she seemed very upset in general over her class this past week. Me and another teacher tried to encourage her, though, because there will always be those hard classes where it’s difficult to keep order. I’m so thankful for my “revelations” earlier this week. This class started out as a trial for me, but I stayed optimistic and I really feel that I’ve learned a lot about myself and about teaching. I’m not necessarily looking forward to difficult classes in the future, but I am looking forward to seeing children learn and use their English. That’s always a joyful experience :)

Work is hard!!

Work is hard. Very hard. This time last week I was in a completely different mindset about my new teaching job. But now, halfway through my first week, I have come to develop so much respect for all of the teachers I had growing up. I would like to take a moment to publicly apologize (although they’re probably not even reading this) to any teacher I didn’t listen to, wasn’t nice to, or generally gave a hard time to…I now know just how hard being a teacher can be.

With that said…let me tell you all how the beginning half of my first week has gone!

Monday morning I was all excited when I got to work early. I finished preparing some last-minute details, I reviewed my notes one last time, and I tried to be as friendly and engaging as possible when my little kiddos arrived. Two hours later as I left to grab some lunch before my tutoring session, my back ached, my head was pounding, and all the positive energy I had been accumulating over the last month had completely run out. Spending two hours with ten 3, 4, and 6 year olds is EXHAUSTING. And for me it has also been disheartening and discouraging. Why is that? Well, besides the typical issues such as the children not staying focused or talking too much, there is this one little boy who is determined to push every single one of my buttons. And for any of my fellow teacher-friends, any advice or encouragement you can give me would be enthusiastically welcomed!

This little boy is super intelligent: he knows all the colors and numbers we’ve been learning, he catches on to instructions and games right away, and he generally doesn’t have a problem participating in activities. However, he has a major attitude problem and he finishes or loses interest in activities after 5-10 minutes. And if it didn’t affect or influence the other children, I wouldn’t have been so distressed about it, but when he becomes bored he goes around and messes with the other children or encourages them to goof off as well.

Anyway…last night by the time I got home (which was late…but more on that later) I was physically and emotionally drained and I was barely in the house for 15 minutes before I just broke down completely. I was so looking forward to my new job and after two days I was more exhausted from teaching for 4 hours a day than I was during most of my college exam weeks.

Originally I had planned on writing a post about how great my first day was (clearly I had this idea before starting work on Monday), but I was determined to have something positive to write about (yay for optimism!), and here it is:

During my breakdown last night, I was completely alone because Matt was at a meeting, and I really really needed some comforting so of course I start praying for God to give me any words or Scriptures to help me. Almost immediately I was reminded of James chapter 1, which is my favorite passage in the Bible (how did I forget it about it so easily!?):

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.”

Maybe it’s because my relationship with God was first founded on this passage, but after reading this last night and meditating on it all day, I feel LOADS better (Thank You, God!).

So I have officially made it “over the hump” and I am completely confident (or adamant) that these last two days will end well. And then you can bet that this weekend I will be celebrating! Ok, maybe I’ll just go shopping and read an entire novel while lounging with my dog, but still…you get the idea ;)

I am employed!

Hello readers! I have been keeping a “secret” from most of you…at least a secret from the online world. Last month I heard of an organization in France called Les Petits Bilingues, an English school for children of all ages. It’s independent from the normal school system, although it does correspond with the school year and vacation times, and they also provide small group and one-on-one tutoring. The great thing (for me) about this place is that they only hire native English speakers. The awesome thing about this place is that they recently opened a center 5 minutes from our apartment! When I found this out I contacted them right away asking if there were any job openings, and within an hour or two I had revamped and sent over my resumé/CV and got an interview scheduled for that week!

Ok, let me just state that I had never considered teaching as a career option, not even in English or English Lit (my major). Teaching children, especially teenagers, is scary. And I, being a doubter, always ask myself these questions, “What if they ask a question that I don’t know the answer to?” “What if I can’t connect with them?” “What if…” What if, what if, what if. When I applied for this job, all those what if’s starting attacking me, but even though I had no experience in teaching English, I still stayed confident. I relied so much on summer daycare working experience I made in high school (seriously…never imagined having to put “Organized and oversaw snack time” on my resumé), and was incredibly relieved when the directrice asked me to come in a couple of days to shadow the different classes.

And I loved it! The first day I was with a group of about eight 4-6 year olds (my favorite!) and after the class ended I was in such high spirits and filled with the excitement of doing that everyday. The next day I was with a small group of 8-9 year olds, and there wasn’t much for me to do other than observe, but still, it was a good day. And after that, I talked with the directrice again, she drew up a contract for me (yay for French paperwork!), and just like that I got the job!

But because it is currently vacation time, I had a whole month off before starting and my official first day of teaching my own class is THIS coming Monday!!! Ready for the details?

  • I work Monday-Saturday, 10am-12pm
  • …with a group of TEN 4 & 6 year olds!
  • It’s still a vacation week, so I’ll be teaching the same curriculum as the other class I shadowed last month
  • And after this week my hours will change again: I’ll do some more training before the offical “rentrée” (Back to School time!) at the end of September.

Sounds pretty great, right?? I am slightly nervous, especially after having a semi-nightmare last night that I showed up to work with NOTHING prepared and got scolded by my boss… BUT, God is good, and He blessed me with this job, so I know He’ll continue to help me with it :)

Oh, and my boss also asked if I could do a one-on-one tutoring session with a 15 year old boy (YIKES!) Monday-Friday afternoon this week as well. But I think that’ll go just fine…she told me to focus on things he likes (like sports), and basically just talk about a specific country (like America), and bring some videos, magazines, card games, etc. Not too bad! I’ll have to follow up on this after next week!