Sunday, September 19, 2010

back to school

I officially started giving lessons again on August 16 and my work has been very intermittent since then. Before the summer holidays I was offered some work at a professional high school, but there was an autorisation d'enseignement to apply for from the school district and at the end of August, I was still waiting to hear if it had been accepted. On August 30 I heard that I was expected to be at the school's pré-rentrée meeting (la rentrée is the start of school); I guess I'm officially allowed to teach in the school district! I showed up for a day of rules, regulations, expectations and powerpoint presentations of pie charts showing the numbers of tardies from the previous year. The 'school speak' was filled with acronyms that I didn't understand; each class is referred to by an acronym and there are 32 of them! I was given my emploi du temps (timetable) and was told that I would start teaching the following week Friday. Super! Jean-Marc and I had planned to go to the farmhouse for a few days before school started and this gave us a week to get away.

While enjoying the farmhouse and the late summer weather, I had the idea to check phone messages on the Monday. To my shock, there was a message from a school principal at the other school site (I work at two sites) saying that I was expected to be teaching a class that day and that they were waiting for me! Yikes. I had no idea I was supposed to be teaching that day and nobody had informed me that I needed to pick up the other timetable from the other site separately. I also learned that I was expected to teach a class on the Wednesday. So Jean-Marc and I packed everything up a little earlier than expected and headed home so that I could start my new job.

I am teaching apprentices who are salaried workers who work for two weeks and then come to school for one week. That means I see each of my four groups every three weeks for two hours; that's not much English! So far my groups (CR2A, CR2B and MHL) are people studying to be road builders and maintenance workers. Most of them are 16-18 years old but I also have one student who is 21. The groups are fairly small, with a maximum of 10 students per class, and so far they are all boys. I have to say that I never thought I would go back to teaching high school, but in little doses - two to six hours per week - it's actually kind of fun. They're very cute and even though they are not crazy about learning English, we've been having a good time so far. This week I will meet my AEM1/2 group and I'll find out what they are studying to become. Since they are salaried workers, it is in their best interest to show up on time and to do their homework. If they show up late, their pay is docked and if they misbehave, they can be fired. I like this kind of high school! Oh, and I should mention that three of my groups are at the site that is based in a castle. Of course I don't have my classes in the castle - it's reserved for administration - but it's still kind of cool to go to the château to teach school.

This new work has added a lot more running around to my already busy schedule and I'm madly trying to keep track of the rotating classes. So far, aside from the one missed class, things are going well and I'm managing to keep on top of it all. The best news for me is that this work pays more than double what I make elsewhere, so the 2-6 hours will make a difference to the bottom line (although I'll have to wait until December for my first cheque - they pay two months after the end of the month worked!).


  1. sounds so much like when i taught esl in Japan. but do they smoke in class?

  2. Ha! Well, so far nobody has smoked in class - did somebody actually do that in Japan? - but I did catch one student gluing a few rolling papers together and I put an end to that pretty tout de suite!