Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Teaching Assistantships in France

During a short-lived stint of working in France, I taught high school kids how to speak English. One the aspects of the job that made it so difficult was that the kids spoke no English and I spoke no French. They were supposed to already understand and speak English; I was only there to teach them the subtle nuances of speaking English in America. One of the reasons hardly any of these kids spoke English was because they had a few bad teachers. I was only supposed to take small groups of four or five, but the bad teachers would try to dump their entire class on me and take the hour off. They all acquiesced when I pushed back, except for one teacher. He insisted on sending his whole class, then he threatened to tell my boss if I didn't accept. I told him not to send any kids and complain all he wanted. So I thought we had an understanding. But, like I said, I didn't really speak French. A couple weeks later I saw his entire class lingering outside my classroom while I was walking around trying to find someone to unlock the computer lab for me. It seems he'd kept sending his class and then dashing off to the cafe while they sat in the hallway for the hour. Not to be outdone, I went down a floor and found a safer route to the computer lab -- one that didn't take me past my classroom.

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