We (my colleagues, our boss, and I) met yesterday afternoon, in the middle of my current bout of tonsillitis, to divide up the classes for next year. To be clear, last year, my “stage” year, I had two 3e (9th grade), two 2e (10th grade), and two 1e (11th) grade. The 3e were very difficult, and so to try to diversify, at the end of the year I asked for the BTS Tourism (post-grad technical degree in tourism) hours that had just opened up when a colleague retired last year. Nobody else wanted these hours because BTS does require a lot of extra work. I also asked for a 5e. So this year, I had one 1e, two 2e, one 3e, one 5e (7th grade), and the BTS tourism: all in all, almost three hours a week overtime. I’ve loved teaching the tourism students. I don’t think there’s a better technical degree to teach English in. English is so important for their career (well, for some of them anyway!), compared to those who study Automobile customer service or Combustion engines. Which isn’t to say that BTS isn’t without its complexities. These are typically not students who had a lot of success in their studies. Some of them come from vocational high schools; some haven’t studied English for several years. Classes can continue to be behaviorally complicated, but it’s still very different from lycée and collège. The 5e have also been a discovery. They are learning almost everything for the first time, and some of them are incredibly effective, and others are charmingly curious. Yet I also unfortunately get to see many of them setting themselves up for a very hard time in the following years, when, for example, I find them in 2e with hardly any of the basics of English held down in their brains. I also helped plan the middle school’s trip to London this year, with the 5e and 4e (8th graders). So my hope next year was to abandon the 3e altogether, even though my one class of 3e this year was, shockingly, a nice class. I had hoped all year to keep the BTS tourism, assumed I’d keep the 2e, and wanted to drop the 3e and take two 5e, which should have been possible given that a colleague in 5e was retiring. In short, the two 5e turned out to be non-negotiable with our incoming colleagues. I let that go, and assumed I’d get two 3es, two 2es, and the BTS. At our high school meeting yesterday, I only hoped not to be stuck with as many overtime hours as last year, meaning, I hoped to not have any 1e. Very surprisingly to me, I’ve ended up with:
- BTS tourism (6.75 hours a week)
- 2e (two groups, 6 hours a week)
- 3e (one class, 3 hours a week)
- Terminale (one class, 2 hours a week) = twelfth grade
- A half hour of “accompagnement” = tutoring of some kind
I’m shocked, though not sad, to have almost entirely withdrawn from the middle school this year. I had resigned myself to staying in collège for a good while. Originally I was disappointed to give up the little ones (5e), because there’s a different enthusiasm with them. On the other hand, they still have an elementary-school tendency to tattle that I hate, they constantly wonder if what I’m writing on the board has to be written in the notebook, they always have headaches or stomachaches and have to go to the nurse… in short, a ton of tiny little problems that by 3e they’ve mostly managed to learned to handle. Plus, the 5e go till July 5th, whereas the other classes all finish quite a bit earlier. I’m excited to start working with the Terminales, though the baccalauréat preparation is an intimidating amount of work!