en vacances

Our first two-week vacation period has started. So far, vacation looks like sleeping ’til ten, lingering over chocolat chaud topped with clouds of chantilly, and exploring the medieval city.

Have we earned it? Maybe not, but I’m certainly not complaining. The students are enjoying their first vacances scolaires, thus, so are we. My first weeks at the schools have gone really well. The kids are sweet and clever, and quite adoring. Tu es trop belle, the little girls tell me as they swarm around me at recess, fighting to hold my hand or impress me with a word of English. One girl mumbled something I had to lean down to hear. one, two, three, four…all the way to ten with a sweetly serious look on her face.

To my surprise, my favorite classes are definitely the older ones, CM1 and CM2. These classes require more preparation, but the students are mature, respectful, smart, and curious. In the past I’ve worked with younger children (La Petite Ecole, nannying), so I was originally a bit intimidated, but that went away quickly. Class is so fun and interesting with this age (akin to 4th and 5th grade). I base my classes around student conversation at these levels, so we have a lot of dialogues at the front of the room, practicing English in a “real” context, and they love doing this. I couldn’t believe it. I ask for volunteers, two to speak together in front of the class, or one to practice with me, and every hand in the room goes up. Games work well, too, because these groups are competitive.

A few of the teachers (and directors) have gone out of their way to say that they are pleased and impressed with my teaching and my French level. One teacher told her colleagues, in front of me, how thrilled she was at the petits sketchs I led in her class. She explained how the students were enthusiastic and, as she put it, amazingly well-behaved. The compliments had me beaming, since the French are nothing if not sincere (also because just a few weeks ago, I had absolutely no idea what I was doing).

I’m glad to have this long break to come up with some real lesson plans ahead of time. Of course, there will be time for some fun too.

Tomorrow Mary and I will be on a train, en route to a new city we know almost nothing about. I don’t even remember how we chose it, just that we like the name.

This plan–or lack of one–sounds crazy, and feels a lot like freedom.

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