How the Rentrée Is Going

Here’s my attempt to write an innocuous but informative post on how my first rentrée in secondary schools is going.

First of all, I can’t say it’s going badly. My colleagues are great and the vibe at the school is very positive. I think I can say with confidence that my students are learning things in English. They’re good kids. I’m learning my way around the school—how to give punishments, how to talk to the students when things aren’t going well, who to talk to about what, etc.

Which isn’t to say that things aren’t tricky. With post-bac, I operated on the assumption that these were young adults I was talking to, and if they didn’t do their work, that was their problem, they saw the consequence in their grades. As long as they didn’t disrupt the class (extremely rare), this attitude worked well.

Obviously, that doesn’t work in secondary school, and I knew that going in. Figuring out where to set limits, how to be stern with them but still be true to my personality, how hard to push them, all seem like a delicate balancing act. I feel certain that I’ll be much, much better at this job in one, two, four years.

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2 thoughts on “How the Rentrée Is Going

  1. In terms of being stern and setting limits, my boss used to be a French teacher in ZEP schools (no prizes for guessing why she stopped doing it!) and her first year, her tutor told her to stand in the doorway as the kids enter, so that
    1) only one can go in at a time (something about controlling the flow)
    2) you can catch hats/clothes/food on the way in
    3) you can look each of them in the eye to demonstrate your authority

    Also, you may already do this, she said to write stuff on the board before they get there, so as soon as they sit down, they get that knee jerk French reaction to take out their books and copy it, so it calms them down from the get-go. When everyone is sitting, wait just two seconds then start the lesson, no nice talk before.

    Again, she was in a ZEP so the discipline was an issue, but I think having the boundaries clear will allow for you to do fun stuff with them and you won’t have to be mean all the time.

  2. Thanks for the tips Andromeda. Unfortunately what complicates things for us is that each class has its own room, rather than each teacher or each subject. So usually when I arrive, they’re already there, and haven’t even had five minutes to move around, chat, go to the bathroom, between classes! And I haven’t either!

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