I’ve managed to get one week of teaching under my belt but now it’s the school holidays! Two weeks off for Toussaint, which seems to have come around really quick and not really at that great a time. I’ve barely got into working with my new classes and colleagues and things still seem as disorganised as ever.
I really love working at one of my schools – they have a semi-designated English teacher who is fully organised and seems to know exactly what to do with me as an assistant. She emails me her proposed lesson plan, tells me what I need to do or bring to the class and then works with me in class to make the most of my presence. It’s a shame that not many of the other teachers really know what I’m there for. Most do not speak English and when I enter the classroom mostly go “what are you doing here?”. They’re in general a really lovely set of teachers who do want to work with me. The English teacher has set aside one hour a week to do a “club d’anglais” where we’ll be working on a play to perform at the Christmas fête at the end of term. We’ve got costumes, props and scripts to prepare and I’m super excited to get to work on that.
Sadly the other school I work at is much less prepared for me. On Tuesday I spent the entire day being pushed between classes until someone would accept me in to teach English. Here, the verb “teach” can be exchanged with “sing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” to a baffled crowd of 3-5 year olds who had never heard the song before or had learned the song but had been taught that “ears” were “eyes” and vice versa. It was fairly excruciating. On Friday, they surprised me by sending in the same group of 3-5 year olds to come and watch my cultural presentation/quiz that I’d prepared for the 10-11 year olds.
I’m just grinning and bearing it; I know that as the term progresses that they’ll get themselves organised and I’ll find out where I fit in with all these new classes. It’s a completely different role to my previous assistantship in the high school where I took the classes by myself and planned all their lessons according to theme as opposed to direct ability. It’s hard to plan a lesson when the students can’t speak even the most basic English. On the plus side, this language barrier is doing wonders for my French.
We’ve had a good week of entertaining – on Tuesday, we made dinner for our neighbour, on Wednesday the oven broke and we improvised by cooking the pizza in a frying pan (strangely edible) and on Thursday we had a couple of Caroline’s colleagues and their kids over for paella. That evening left a lasting impression on us, mostly in the form of the girls’ nail varnish staining our walls forever more.
Friday saw the beginning of the school holidays – two weeks off. We celebrated by heading up to Sainte Marie to attend a Mexican themed evening at Jacq and Molly’s. It’s always lovely to get together with some of the other assistants, as many of them live in rural places and we don’t see them that often.
A trip to the banana museum in Sainte Marie finished off our weekend in the north, including a lovely walk through the grounds of the plantation and a creole meal (chicken colombo and plantain) at the restaurant.
For the holidays, Caroline and I are planning on getting to see more of the island, especially down south where some of the most beautiful beaches are. That, of course, is if it doesn’t rain, which unfortunately put a bit of a dampener (pun intended) on our trip to the beach today.
French words of the week:
ramener – to give someone a lift home in a car
climatisation/clim – air conditioning
une ruche – beehive
P.S. to my assistant family – I consider myself the victor of No Bread Week. The French toast you (kindly) force fed me at brunch on Saturday did not count. Nor did the fried pizza.