I've been struggling to write a blog about teaching for several days, with no success. No coincidence that the past several days have been a little rough (Monday excepted)? But I enjoyed myself at school today, so I'm jumping at the opportunity to write an upbeat entry.
The English teachers are throwing a dinner party in my honor. They've even set a date, and it's really going to happen. Some of them even talk to me now! And a couple days after this dinner party, I'm going to someone else's house for dinner.
I still have no way to decide if my classes are "successful" or not. Is our children learning? Who knows. But I'll settle for amusing myself. And I laughed plenty today. I had them invent biographies for these random people (mostly pulled off The Sartorialist), and later make up stories using five random words they drew from a hat. While some students were happy to chat in French and ignore their work, some got it together and came up with brilliant stories. Highlights were the politician who killed a fox at brunch with hairspray; something about Star Wars, time travel, and killer-bananas; and finally the guy from the photo who likes "sex, drugs, and rock and roll." I know I'm not supposed to laugh, but you have to understand, these kids do not have a sophisticated command of English, so when they bust out something like this, it just kills me.
And my classic ESL moment du jour: These kids were goofing around instead of working (yes, really), and I asked them reproachfully, "Are you working?" The one boy repeated slowly to himself, "are... you... working...", thought for a moment; then the lightbulb went off and he scrambled to look busy.
My supervising teacher gave me a CD of materials for the terminales (seniors), who have a major exam at the end of the year. On their exam, they will be given an image or a quote, and they'll have to talk for 10 minutes on that subject; my new CD has images that have been used in past years. (That counts as, like, an entire semester course of teacher training! I mean it's really not, but considering how little training I have, it's a bonanza. It was nice of her to think I might need help, too. Because, good god, do I ever.) I'll probably use images I find on my own (that represent multiple facets of the US, rather than just the one), but at least now I know what's expected of them.
So maybe there are undercurrents of snark here -- maybe I'd kind of hoped that everyone I met would leap at the opportunity to listen to me butcher French, that all the teachers would shower me with wisdom, and that every day at school would be a joyous occasion of language-making. But maybe I'm getting there.