The Gift of an Extra Day – Feb 29 2008

Yesterday, I had one of those days. The type that has you wondering why at every turn you have to be thwarted by ridiculous rules or bizarre opening times. Friday is a busy day for me anyway, with 5 hours of classes – but I was fully prepared for this, and it’s not too bad usually. I had arranged with two of the teachers to cover their lessons when they were away, too.

Things started typically, as the bus was late. But, I arrived on time, and gave the lesson as planned. It was the first lesson in a project for my terminales class, and they’re designing and labelling a new product, to presented in a Dragons’ Den style lesson at the end of term. They had some great ideas and got on well with what they were supposed to be doing.

The next hour I was free, and I spent the time chatting with one of the English teachers.

11am brought a group of 6 students, and we did a dictation and gap-fill exercise about Australia, which had be given to me by their teacher. Again, the lesson went off well.

Lunch time is when it began. As I only had one hour before my next class, I decided to eat at school. The school uses rechargeable cards, which you swipe when you go into the canteen to get a tray out of the machine. Mine just made a very loud noise and got a red light flashed at me along with the messages. “FONDS INSUFFISANTS”. I thought I’d go and top-up my card. Only to find that the person in charge of charging up people’s lunch cards doesn’t charge them up at, yes, lunch time.

A quick trip to the local “centre commercial” – nearly all of which was shut as it was lunch time – rewarded me with an expensive sandwich from a shop which doesn’t sell drinks at all. So there was nowhere open to buy something to drink at lunchtime. It’s all so logical.

Let’s move on to the afternoon. I was getting together some pictures for my “UK Day” display in the library. Now, these need to be printed in colour, meaning a trip to the “copy centre” near the station. I finally got them all packaged up and emailed to myself for collection in the shop later. I was told by a very reliable source (Sellappan) that the shop was open until 1830…

My next class was fantastic. The pupils were interested and enthusiastic about reading the copies of The Independent that I’d transported back for them. They were even more delighted when they saw a mention of their region in the Travel magazine. They asked lots of intelligent questions and responded well when I questioned them. They really were a pleasure to teach.

Next, I went in search of the teacher of my new class…who turned out to be absent. Great. I stayed at school for those hours for nothing. Nevertheless, my final class was the terminales for another teacher, a class I would be taking alone. Their ability is very low, and they’re not really all that interested in English. When I got them into the classroom I hadn’t even shut the door before one of the pupils started messing about, shouting “I love you, misses, I love yoooouuu!” from the back of the room. At least he was speaking English, I suppose. I calmly told him “Thanks, but I’m not interested.” The quicker kids in the class started laughing at him, then translated. He shut up for the rest of the time. Then I had to shoo away some of the pupils from my other class, closing the classroom door gently but very firmly in their faces.

I had been given a listening exercise to make them do, featuring a girl with a very thick American drawl. The thing was supposed to be about how much she loved summer camp, but she sounded bored out of her skull. Here’s one exchange that did make me smile, though… Noté means “marked” as in, graded.

Pupil : Madame! Est-ce que ça sera noté?!
Me : In English?
Pupil : Misses, will it be noté?
Me : Yes, it will be noté.
Pupil : Oh my Dieu!

Finally, at six, the lesson was over and I went off to the copying place. Which was closed. New opening hours for February.

On the bright side, I really am enjoying being at home for sunset sometimes nowadays.

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