All posts filed under: Preparations

What to Expect as a Primary English Assistant : 8 Questions and Answers

After my first TAPIF placement in Chambéry, I noticed that much of the TAPIF blogging community focuses on assistants in secondary schools. This is completely normal, as there are far more people placed at the secondary level! There are many commonalities between the expectations and experiences of primary and secondary assistants; there are also many specifics that are quite different. So, I wanted to create a resource specifically for primary teaching assistants, since teaching in elementary schools comes with its own challenges and circumstances that aren’t talked about as often. I’m about to start my third year teaching primary level English, and in that time I’ve experienced many different types of classrooms, colleagues, and schools. I thought now would be a great time to update my initial Primary Assistant FAQ post to include some of the new insights and tips I’ve gained in my two years as a teaching assistant in the académies of Grenoble (Chambéry) and Aix-Marseille (Marseille), as well as anecdotes from the many primary assistants I know and have worked with. This …

The Great Marseille Apartment Hunt of 2016

The wily explorer arrived to the Marseillais jungle with an accommodation booked for one week, and one goal: to finally capture a rare wild apartment. Having hunted before in this country (albeit a different region), she felt thoroughly prepared. She conjured memories of her last wild apartment hunt in the mountainous region of Chambéry;  a lot of time spent in mortal terror, exhausted from travel, terrified at the prospect of making calls in a foreign language, ultimately unsure how she finally managed to finally trap one. “I know it’ll be difficult,” she thought. “But at least this time I know what I’m up against.” Oh, how the explorer was mistaken. She arranged her hunting tools first: a French phone number, a grammatically corrected introduction, an empty notebook, an internet connection. Then, she took a deep breath and lunged into the hunt. She traversed Leboncoin, crossing occasionally into Appartager and dipping toes into PAP and local agencies. She left voice messages, text messages, email messages but still the wild apartment eluded her. She filled four pages …

writing and writing and writing

I feel like I’ve been writing all day… I spent all morning writing cover letters, updating CVs, composing emails. I spent a few hours this afternoon writing responses to my online bookclub, engaging and discussing with other readers. Then, I edited all that job stuff some more. What’s worse is they’re all in French (except the bookclub!) which makes the process take about 10 times longer. Usually my job application process is pretty streamlined: Update resume with recent developments Write cover letter using the building blocks from countless cover letters I’ve already written Maybe send both to my mom or a trusted friend if I’m feeling really anxious Spend 2 minutes composing a simple introductory email to attach my documents to Hit send. Today my process is more like this: Study a whole bunch of examples of French CVs (they’re different than American ones!) Start my template with a healthy dose of copy/paste Google things like “professeur remplaçante description pour CV” to make sure I’ve got some French buzzwords to use Start my cover letter with a …

My Suitcase Can Only Weigh HOW MANY Pounds?! And other packing concerns.

I’ve gotten a few questions recently about packing for TAPIF. Figuring out what to bring for seven months, in a strange country, for a professional job, which takes place over mostly winter-y months, all while keeping in mind airline limits is not a simple task. My number one recommendation is: make sure you can carry what you pack. You’ll inevitably have to lug your luggage through the airport, onto a train, through a metro system, across cobblestones and up 5 flights of stairs, and while passersby are generally kind to someone in need of an extra hand, you’ll be much more confident if you know you can at least manage it on your own if no one is around to help. After that, what you bring and what you leave behind is more or less your prerogative, but here are some of the guidelines I used.

Primary Assistant FAQ

In my time obsessively stalking all TAPIF blogs past, current and future, I’ve noticed the prevalence of secondary assistants across the interweb. It makes sense: there are way more of them! There are commonalities between the expectations and experiences of primary and secondary assistants, but seeing as most of the info out there seems to be geared towards the secondary level, I want to share some ideas that will be specifically helpful to current and future primary assistants, as they can be very different jobs.