Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Here's the Thing...On Teaching

There's a lot of negativity out there regarding the experiences of many of the teaching assistants. I'm surprised that people continue to apply for the job given all of the bad stuff that is written. Based solely on what's written about it one might think that it's the absolutely worse job in the world. But here's the thing, depending on the day my students can either really impress me and make me proud or they can make me want to tear my hair out. On those days when they really annoy me I have a sort of feigned indifference towards them. On the surface I could care less if they smoked a lot of pot during their vacation, if a little ragamuffin calls me a bitch during class and so on and so on. I think the key is t not give them the reaction they are hoping for, I simply choose to ignore them and move on to the next topic at hand. Because at the end of the day I'm not going to let some punkass 14 year old get to me or disrupt my entire class. The other thing is, if they aren't engaged in the lesson that I'm teaching then I have failed them and not vice versa!!!!!

On the days when they are really engaged it can be pretty rewarding. Let's take Leslie as an example. Leslie in one of my 3eme classes and she barely participates in class yet she insists on attending my class not only with her actual English class but during her free period as well. Initially, I thought it "wow, how nice this girl really likes me and has taken a real interest in learning English." Turns out that self-centered view couldn't be further from the truth. Some of her best girlfriends happen to be in the other class and she sees it as an opportunity to catch up with them when she wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity. So as long as they aren't too disruptive in class I let them be for the most part. Last week when Leslie insisted on coming with my group during her actual English class I told her that I would not accept her because of her lack of participation. It didn't go over so well and she wasn't very pleased with me for the rest of the day. Throughout the day I heard her recounting the story to her friends about how I was so mean and how she didn't like me.

Today once again Leslie joined my class during her free period and to my surprise she actually participated, was very engaged in the lesson and even surprised me with her knowledge during class. I was shocked! I had practically written her off but today she really surprised me and made me proud and made my job worthwhile. To encourage such behavior in the future I made a point praising her after class. I am no fool however, I fully expect Leslie to be back to her old ways next week and if not it will be yet another pleasant surprise.

3 comments:

IslandGirl4Ever2 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
IslandGirl4Ever2 said...

Hi there!! Thanks for sharing your views! I agree with you... on not having high expectations and all.... Though I am sure it is still very disheartening for those who come here fresh and ready to experience French culture and an experience of working abroad! It's very brave of them... maybe not the experience they thought they'd get.. I have been a teacher for years.. First, as a teacher's aid for 3 years before I got my elementary ed. credential.. Then, I subbed for several years in public school.. Took a job at a private school teaching pre-k one year and 1st grade another.. Loved it! Couldn't get a "full-time" job teaching elementary school so I went back and tried spec. ed.. LOVED IT!!! Got my spec. ed. credential and taught that at the elementary level for 4 years and then 5 years at the high school level... LOVED IT... Doesn't mean it wasn't tough! Teaching itself has been one of THE MOST stressful yet most rewarding jobs ever... The job itself is NO piece of tarte... Let alone teaching English to second lang. learners... when the system isn't really structured at all school sites... I am sooo glad that even though you have had some tough experiences, too.. you have maintained an attitude that doesn't get you down the way I have read about other's experiences.. No one ever said it's an easy job.. By the way... in the U.S. it's pretty safe to say the teaching/education in general is VERY different than the system here in France... I think that in America teachers are more apt to work together and share material... support one another.. Don't know if French teachers do that with each other.. But, that's been my experience of being in the American educational system since 1989.... Just an observation....

Destination Metz said...

I'm glad you're finding it a lot easier to deal with but I just want to point out that you're teaching in a lycee (or a college?) and not primary, which is a very different experience. I'm going to re-apply as IUFM to try and turn things around for me for that very reason.

There was an error in this gadget