All posts tagged: Académie de Grenoble

Well, this is nuts.

As of today, I have been in Chambéry for two months. This fact is especially remarkable because the last time I was in France, it was for exactly this amount of time. And yet, this has felt like a drop in the bucket compared to that summer. You know what they say….Time flies when you have no idea what you are doing. Here’s a statistical breakdown of my first two months: Museums visited: 4 Mountains hiked: 2 Movies watched: 6 Plays attended: 1 Crêpes eaten: 9 Dinners hosted: 4 Cities visited: 3 Students taught: 195 Pen Pal letters sent: 19 Postcards sent: 12 Official forms and dossiers submitted: 3 Countries my friends are from: 8 Languages spoken in any given outing: 4 Cows seen: impossible to count Times I’ve been baffled by the Celsius scale: every single time Times I’ve understood the metric system: none Times per week I get coffee (or tea) with friends in the same café: 5, at minimum Times per week we go for beer instead: depends on the week….. I could …

Observations, Thoughts & Impressions

I have now spent about 3 weeks at Ecole Concorde, observing, assisting, teaching, etc. Here are a few of my initial reactions to French schools (or at least my somewhat unique elementary school). The kids learn cursive right off the bat — even at the stage they specifically pointed out, “Yes, in France we use connected handwriting” as in, the entire country. This was actually something I noticed before, that the French collectively have a very particular way of writing that struck me as being “different.” Now, I have observed the naissance of this phenomenon!! The CP students (first grade equivalent) have handwriting lessons, and already have begun writing in cursive. Incredible. In the US, I never experienced an emphasis on handwriting, and certainly not cursive. I was required to write in cursive I think in the 2nd or 3rd grade, but that was more or less the extent — and mind you that was some 13 years ago as well! The kids seem to be very well-behaved overall, but the teachers take absolutely NO …

Vacation: Travels, Halloween, and the Great Assistant Reunification

Yes, you read that right. Vacation!! After working for less than two weeks, we had two weeks off for La Toussaint vacation. In fact, French schools have about two weeks of (paid!!!) vacation for every six weeks of school. Not a bad deal!! In lieu of lots of long posts about every fun event, which would probably take me another 3 months to write…I’m going to attempt shorter vignettes of the memorable moments, arranged more or less in chronological order, and sprinkled of course with pictures! REUNIFICATION DINNER Our attempt to unite all (well, most) of the Chambéry assistants, who have inadvertently been separated into mainly two groups: anglophones and Italians (and others) involved introducing the Italians to the game Mafia ….. which drew a few begrudging chuckles. We ended up changing it to Assassins to be more “politically correct” PICNIC AT LAC DU BOURGET Step one: procure alimentary items. Step two: take bus to beautiful lake surrounded by mountains and bathed in what has frequently been described to you (and rather ominously, you might add) as the last …

Je vous présente…

Let me introduce you to my school!! Name: Groupe Scolaire Concorde (The school is actually made up of two schools: the maternelle (preschool) and elementaire) Location: Barberaz, France. A 10 minute bus ride or a 30 minute walk from my apartment. Size: There is one class of 17-25ish students of every grade. I believe this is on the small side, though more or less average for the size of the town… Special Skills: The school is one of only 3 in the region (and possibly in all of France) to operate with a content-language learning immersion program. As I’ve mentioned a few times previously, this means that all elementary students have about half of their curriculum taught in English and half in French. The maternelle also has several hours of English classes each week. Schedule: I work for at least 30 minutes a week with each class. I assist in math, geography, art and earth science classes. In the maternelle classes, I have a little bit more independence in presenting cultural activities. This week I’m …

Almost Useful

**I am slowly but surely posting my way through the past few weeks…hopefully I will catch up this week and then I can start posting in the present tense! October 1st was the first day of our contracts as assistants. The académie de Grenoble required all 260-some assistants to come to the city of Grenoble for a two day stage, or orientation. The Chambéry assistants all met at the train station early in the morning for the approximately 45 minute train journey, which was exciting because it was the first time all the Chambéry assistants were all together….at least most of us… The day I arrived in Chambéry, I met up with a fellow American named Kevin. In the nearly two weeks after that fateful meeting, I remained the ONLY person to have met Kevin in person. When I would meet up with other assistants, they would ask after him since they recognized his name from the Facebook group, but no one else had EVER seen him. Obviously, this led to a lot of jokes about how …

Started at the bottom, now we’re here

During my second week in Chambéry, I stayed with a really wonderful and generous woman who rents her spare room on Airbnb. The weekend that I stayed with her, she told me about a massive event was happening all over centre ville: La Grande Braderie de Chambéry. This is a massive market/yard sale that takes place twice a year in practically every single open space in the centre ville. There are official stalls that vendors and artisans rent to sell anything from antiques to cheese to leather products to clothing to books to ski equipment and on and on and on. These are supplemented by the particuliers who arrive 24 hours in advance to stake their claim on a plot of land in order to sell whatever the heck they’ve lugged with them from chez eux, including hand-me-downs, books, movies, dishes, refrigerators. They descended upon the town Saturday afternoon and stayed all through Sunday, camping out overnight. As Marie was explaining all of this I was thinking, Great! What fun to experience on one of my first …

All Aboard!

Well, I’m leaving tomorrow. I am ready, at least I think I am. I’ve done everything that I can to try to inform myself about what to expect without forming too many preconceptions. I’ve filled out all the necessary pre-departure paper work. I have photocopied every piece of paper that I own and done at least MOST of the items on my DC To-Do List. I’ve completed every task on the  checklist (well, nearly everything…), I’ve packed as many of my most favorite possessions as possible into not nearly enough luggage and I’ve hugged all of my friends. I still have so many questions…where will I live?! being first and foremost. Even though I know that renting an apartment, opening a bank account, and all those other fun post-arrival tasks are nearly impossible to do from abroad, I’m starting to feel like I’ve been irresponsible. Like I’ve been using that as an excuse to put off figuring them out. I know I am going to need to lean on the other assistants and the helpful Chambériens, …