All posts tagged: tips

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 …

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.

The Waiting Game: making it through the long summer before TAPIF

April 1st, 2015: I woke up in the morning to a text from my friend Giulia: Attention aux poissons sur ton dos! I arrived at school and every child had a little paper fish on their desk that they “sneakily” tried to tape on people’s backs. In France, April Fool’s Day is Poisson d’Avril, and these fish are part of the practical joke tradition. Later, I heard about a teacher who tried to trick her kindergarteners into doing worksheets meant for 5th grade, another who spent an hour teaching his class Chinese, as a “new school initiative”, and another who announced a fake pop quiz. We decorated fish during art class!

Five Things to Do With Your Free Time Instead of Travelling

A few weeks ago, a fellow TAPIF assistant and blogger, Anne à l’aventure, published a post about reasons NOT to travel, which got me thinking… It may not be a popular opinion, especially in the Instagram Age where #wanderlust is the most noble of ambitions, but I am increasingly coming to terms with the notion that I’m simply not cut out for the “traveller lifestyle.” One look around my bedroom will tell you why: I have only lived here six months and already my walls are covered in postcards, train tickets and children’s drawings. Dozens of books are stacked on the floor next to the slowly growing pile of flashcards and worksheets used at school. Markers, pens, post-it notes and girl scout cookies clutter my desk and my window sill is home to not one but two plants. This is not the kind of place that you can easily pack into a backpack.

So you think you can TAPIF?

With TAPIF applications in the US due in the next few days, I am sure many hopefuls will be curiously Google searching tips and advice, much as I was 12 months ago… So, I thought I’d throw in my two cents. Step One: Strategize. Take a moment to examine your strengths and weaknesses as a TAPIF candidate and try to tailor your application accordingly. This is standard advice for any type of application, and most definitely applies here as well! For example, I did not major in French, so I didn’t have a ton of French classes on my transcript nor a spectacular level of French comprehension (the requirement is B1). However, I do have a fair amount of education/childcare experience from working at summer camp, tutoring, teaching drama classes, etc. So, I chose to especially highlight these experiences in my personal statement and CV, and even had my second recommendation written by a colleague from camp. Step Two: The main application form. Choosing a Region: Above all, know that TAPIF will absolutely require patience …

Trip to the Embassy!

Last week, I completed another step in my journey towards France: The Visa Appointment. I’m very lucky because I live so close to my regional consulate. The same consulate also serves people from DC, Virginia, Delaware, West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland, so some people have to make full day trips, while I just missed a two hours of work. On Friday, I left work early and made my way to the French Embassy/consulate in Washington, DC. It is a complex of pretty ugly buildings in a lovely neighborhood in Georgetown which was quite beautiful to drive through. Luckily, I have an amazing mother who helped me get there and back, since it is not very Metro accessible. I spent the previous few days gathering all the information the consulate lists on their website: the visa application form, my passport + 1 copy of the info page, my arrêté de nomination + 1 copy, a passport-sized photo, my Virginia identification card, and a prepaid envelope.  When I arrived, I had to show the woman at the gate …