My son and I are leaving our small town in southeastern United States to live for a year in a small town in southeastern France. It couldn't possibly be THAT different, right?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

What I like about teaching

    I like teenagers.  They energize me and challenge me and make me laugh and make me think.  I enjoy their company and consider it a privilege to know them at such an exciting time in their lives.
   What I am missing the most in my new job this year is the opportunity to interact with students outside the classroom.  Since students do not join clubs or participate in team sports at their schools, there is no sense of school spirit.  School is a place to work and learn, and that's all.  Each class has delegates (whose role I do not yet understand), but other than that there is no chance for student leadership, as far as I can tell.
    Teachers do not have additional duties such as lunch or hall duty or study hall or detention so the only time that we see our students is in our classrooms, and when we are not teaching, we are not generally on campus.  
     Obviously, I am accustomed to WAY more interaction with my students.  At the Day School, I have advisees and a study hall, and I sponsor a club.  After school, Jed and I frequently stay for sporting events, and we go to all of the plays and band concerts.
    Spending that much time at school is exhausting, but it has its rewards and benefits.  First of all, I love seeing another side of my students that is not always obvious in the classroom.  Students who don't want to utter a word of French sometimes amaze me in lunchtime debates, and students who struggle academically are sometimes brilliant athletes.
    Showing an interest in the lives of my students usually pays off in the classroom as well.  If I am having a discipline problem with a student, and I take the time to show up at his/her soccer game, the problem does not always disappear, but it might become less frequent.
    Thursday afternoon was the first time since arriving at the collège that I felt like I was a part of a school community.  At 1:00, I went with the chorus to a senior center to take pictures of them singing for senior citizens' week.  Then, from 1:30-4:30 I helped write down finishing times in a school-wide cross country race.   Afterwards, the teachers met in the lounge to drink champagne in honor of our history colleague, Jean-Paul's retirement.  I arrived home exhausted but happy around 8:00 p.m.

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