Thursday, April 13, 2006

Frankly, Mr. Shankly, since you ask...

Things at Problem School have reached the point that as soon as I think of it, this song by the Smiths pops into my head.
You are a flatulent pain in the arse
I do not mean to be so rude
Still, I must speak frankly, Mr. Shankly

Though saying that it "corrodes my soul" is perhaps a bit much. Still, best "Take this job and shove it" song ever. Guess who found out a few weeks ago that she's been spending her Thursdays at a ZEP school? ZEP stands for zone educatif prioritaire, and means that it really is a Problem School, for Problem Kids. So basically I've spent the last 6 months or so teaching unmedicated ADD kids with troubled families, and didn't know it. Nor did anyone bother to adequately explain to me how the disciplinary system works.
The thing is, the teachers and staff are all nice people. They just see me as a substitute teacher, WHICH I'M NOT. I don't think they realize I don't have any experience. And the two "training" sessions in Metz were an absolute joke. I've been making it up as I go along. My French breaks down utterly when I go there; I have some sort of mental block, I can't adequately communicate with my professors. Misunderstandings happen nearly every week, it feels like I haven't had a single day there where I didn't fuck something up.
The kids are a mixed bag. Many of them, including Baby Dyke, are nice, ordinary kids, not overly studious. Quite a few of them are assholes. Most of them don't care about English, and I can't say I blame them; this is the Poor School, these are lower-income students who are going to go straight to the technical lycee and learn a trade, what do they need English for? The younger kids are a handful, but they're at least nicer to me (generally) than the older teens, who pretty much regard me with thinly veiled contempt. If I was their classmate they'd be picking on me.
I'm just really, really tired of feeling stupid and laughed at (only two more days left there, I keep telling myself).
Today was one of the better days. I switch teachers every week, and today was my last day with Christelle's students. And she cancelled three of my classes, so I didn't have any asshat 3emes to deal with. I had a nice class with Bene's 4emes, who, while noisy, are nicer and more enthusiastic than the others. I've always like them. I taught them how to write text messages in English (I figure if they're going to text each other behind my back, they might as well do it in the right language). It went well, and then at the end of the class, they had a little goodbye ceremony. I got a handmade card with the Union Jack on it:
Dear Anne
Thank you Very much.
It was nice to have you with us in class you are cool and nice. We liked studying with you about Irish dance, American schools (we liked the photos!) We wish you good luck in your life and a good trip return.
And then they gave me presents! A stuffed animal, a homemade cake (!), and...a...well, thing. I guess it's supposed to be a decoration or something. One of my students took a roof tile, one of those big, heavy, curved ones that usually go with stucco Southwestern style houses, painted it lavender, glued pictures of Christmas trees and teddy bears on it, then covered it in glitter.
It's so bizarrely funny that I love it. Not looking forward to the shipping costs for it though.


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