Saturday, February 28, 2009

Guess who had a good week?! Me!!!

Haha, yeah that's right! I'm ending February on a happy note :-)
Let's see, there are several reasons for this bliss:
  • Well my vacation ended nicely, yayyy!!! :-) so I started the week in a good mood!
  • Teaching went really well this week!!! I'm sure the teachers spoke to the classes about their behaviour. I'm starting to get the weird impression that the kids are starting to see me as an authority figure...they're behaving, doing their work, I can't complain! I was nervous about starting back teaching, e.g. I even started counting down the days... and hours lol, so it was a relief when things went well!!
  • My 4:30 to 5:30 class (teaching) yesterday i.e. Friday afternoon! got cancelled. :-) lol
  • The weather is pretty fantastic!!!!! I LOVE the sunshine!!! The place isn't as cold as before. Today's temperature ranged between 7°C and 15°C!! It felt so "tropical"!! I think I'm going to be really happy during le printemps!
  • I finally received my first semester uni results! According to one of my friends, "WOW!!!! good grades!!!".
  • I've only two months of teaching left, March and April. Did I mention I have two weeks of vacances scolaires in April?!! Yayyyy!!!!!
  • Oh yeah, I also got paid this week! (Although thanks to expenses and the inevitable "joys" of budgeting, my happiness in this regard was short-lived. lol)
Bye bye February, and hellloooo March!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Swiss Trip: Lausanne!

Right now I'm pretty tired, but I'll forget about that and blog!! lol

Today one of my English assistant friends and I went to Lausanne, Switzerland. I really wanted to travel a bit and was so glad that she came along! Our day started really early ... I took the 6:35am bus from La Motte-Servolex to the train station in Chambéry (Gare Chambéry Challes-les-Eaux). About 15 minutes later I was at the station, waiting patiently for the 7:09am train to Geneva. My friend arrived a while after I did and then we hopped on on our train, yay!! As can be imagined, we were both really tired so early in the morning ... resulting in the conductor poking my friend to wake her up haha when he came to check our tickets.

About an hour and a half later we were in Geneva. Instead of waiting 10 minutes for the Geneva-Lausanne train we booked, we hurried onto another train to Lausanne that was about to leave. Yes, we were excited about the trip! But before that, of course we had to take free newspapers offered in the station (Le Matin Bleu and 20 Minutes). 40 minutes later... Lausanne!!! and boy was in COLD!!! Yup, like -2°C. I remember looking out from the train and saying "Oh no, why is there snow!!". Fortunately, it was a sunny day!

First stop: McDonald's for some hot chocolate. I didn't bother to buy any because I forgot my swiss francs in my apartment and didn't feel like using my card/euros to buy hot chocolate lol. After that, we made our way up a steep hill !!! Surprisingly, at around 9:30am it was just sooooooooooooo quiet!!! I must have said that a million times today! "It's soooo quiet! Where are the people?" haha. Anyway, our morning adventure took us to a tourism place where we got maps (very handy!) and some brochures.

Next stop: Lush. As we walked past Lush, I thought it was a candy store!! To make a long story short lol, we went in and spent like an eternity in there! It was fun though! The "candies" were really soap, shampoo, massage oil, etc. The sales girl was very friendly (the Swiss are really nice!) and it kinda took me by surprised that she addressed us using the tu form. After getting our hands washed with some moisturizing soap, hearing about a block of shampoo that apparently lasts for 80 lavages, and basically just smelling around the whole shop lol, we eventually bought some stuff (couldn't resist!).

At around 11am (we spent a long time in Lush!), our tour of Lausanne really began. We walked up a lot of steps to visit the Cathédrale de Lausanne which was built in the 13th century. Then we decided to walk to a nearby "green area" that we saw on the map. While it looked closeby, we took quite a while climbing uphill!!! The "green area" was also covered in snow!!!
We walked:
  • past the Petit Château (which looked more like a regular house!),
  • through some snow to the Hermitage (which seemed to be closed),
  • past the Tribunal Cantonal,
  • up some snow covered steps/thin winding pedestrian walkway to the Signal de Sauvabelin (640 metres, lovely views which compensated for the energy involved to get there!),
  • along the road until we eventually reached the Lac de Sauvabelin. Funny thing though, the little lake was frozen lol. Some of the animals looked so cold, on the ice, motionless... I had to wonder if they weren't real haha. Part of the lake wasn't frozen though, and some ducks were enjoying the water.
There's a little restaurant next to the Lac de Sauvabelin. Clearly after all that early morning exercise we were quite hungry and after checking out the menu, decided to get something to eat. Well we were hoping for a chocolate place, thanks to the Chocolatière signs, but we found no such thing, hmm. Maybe chocolatière has nothing to do with chocolaterie? Anyway, at the restaurant by the little frozen lake, we ate lightly. I had a cheese sandwich (Gruyère cheese, thickly sliced bread, some green veggie) and a glass of sparkling apple juice in a Nestea glass (reminder of being in Switzerland: Nestlé).

After lunch, the walk downhill was a breeze! This time we walked along with road/pavement, which turned out to be not as steep as our pedestrain path uphill. Back in the centre ville, we walked past the Château Saint-Maire (which actually kinda looked like a castle, unlike le petit château. According to my tourist brochure, the Saint Maire, not Marie, is the current seat of cantonal government.). Anyway, we just walked past and took some quick pics. We walked around a bit of Lausanne and actually saw some people after a while hahaha, ok that might have been an exaggeration. Sure, there were people in Lausanne, but it just wasn't as busy as I expected it to be. We got some crêpes as well (sucre, cannelle, & citron). I liked seeing the crêpes being made. The crêpe man was friendly/chatty, and thought it was crazy that I left the warmth in Trinidad to come to Switzerland!

Soon we made our way to the lake, the big, real, unfrozen lake lol, Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). There, Lausanne began to look like the bustling student town that it supposedly is. There were some guys on unicycles, some teenagers skateboarding/trying to do tricks, and some little children playing in a park. I had a strong urge to go down one of the slides!! Lol, those little kiddies looked like they were having so much fun and my inner child wanted to have fun too. So you know what, when I saw an adult going down the big slide with a child lol, I couldn't resist! My friend and I climbed up the thingy lol and yes, we conquered the slide lol. I went first. When I sat at the top of the slide, eagerrrr to let go, the little girl who had slid before me kept standing at the bottom of the slide! She was just looking at me lol, while I just wanted her to move because obviously I didn't want to kick her by accident. Lol, anyway, she eventually moved and I had sooooooo much fun taking that one slide! *grin*

Lausanne is the Olympic Capital. As a result, we just had to browse the olympics stuff. There were some nice statues and of course museums (e.g. by the Parc Olympique Lausanne, there's the Musée Olympique and the Musée de l'Elysée, which is a photography museum). Well, we didn't visit the museums, nor the Swatch Store. We had about an hour and a half before our scheduled train was supposed to leave. However, we decided to take an earlier train back to France! As a result of this last minute decision, we got a whole lot of exercise!! as we hurried to the train station to get the 4:17 train from Lausanne to Geneva. Guess what, we got it!!! We arrived a little less than 5 minutes before departure.

30 minutes later we were in Geneva. Again, we hurried to get the train to France. I got a much needed nap on the train.:-) The train was going to Lyon Part-Dieu, so we had to come off in Culoz, France (which seems like the middle of nowhere). However, the train was running 10 minutes late, so when we reached Culoz, we just ran out the train straight into the train for Chambéry which was opposite. 2 minutes later lol, our Chambéry train left, and 30 minutes later, it felt so good to be back in Chambéry!!!

My two weeks vacation had its ups and downs (beginning right after the drama at the collèges, I destressed in Lyon, then I still had uni for the first week and the flu was unbearable!!!! (I eventually just had to stay indoors for a few days straight), and I also had a visit from the Jamaican assistant I met at the stage in September). Lausanne today was great, and I'm really looking forward to the rest of my vacation (especially since teaching/uni resume on Monday, *sigh... ok, let me try to think happy thoughts!*). Tomorrow--> lunch with the English teacher who hosted me when I first arrived, and personal weekend trip to Lyon :-). I really love all these holidays!!!!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sigh, same nonsense

Ok, today felt so much like déjà vu. Sigh, students and cell phones, meeting with principal? Sound familiar? Yeah, except that this time the incident took place in my other collège.

Well, I have been trying to fight a cold this entire week, but today it got the better of me. Fortunately, I had made some copies of Valentine's Day crosswords to do with my classes - thinking "that should be fun and keep the students occupied." The second hour of teaching didn't go too well though. I couldn't speak because of my sore throat and headache, so I let two students write the answers to the crosswords on the board, ask the other students if they weren't sure of the answer, and well if no one knew the answer I told them. However, one side of the class was particularly rowdy - listening to music on their cell phones and taking pictures. Since the students with the music were next to me (??!!...) I told them that I was hearing them and that they needed to stop. Oh well, that didn't work as they just lowered the volume. Some students even threw paper planes during the lesson. I just didn't have the energy to stress myself out this morning.

Soon the bell rang and the students left. I stayed in my room a bit because I was really feeling sick. After a while I got up and went to the staff room. There, the English teacher and another teacher told me that they heard that students did not behave in class this morning. (Two students told them what took place). The teachers and I went to the principal's office to tell him what took place and who were the students involved. Well, of the five students involved three of them are the usual trouble-makers, and apparently there was a meeting with their parents recently (like a week ago?). I'm not sure what action is going to be taken though. Well, the principal and teachers told me that I'm trop gentille (too nice) with the students. Ok, I got the point...I'll have to try to be firm once school reopens (in two weeks - yay for winter break!).

Well, because I was feeling ill (still not feeling 100%), I decided not to stay the day at the school. I have six hours of teaching on Fridays (from 8:00am to 5:30pm!), but today I only survived from 8-10am. Before leaving though, the English teacher and I wrote a report each of what took place (what I saw, and what the students told her).

Why is teaching getting so stressful?!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Don't be a pushover

Today I stopped being the "nice language assistant".
I only had one hour of teaching this afternoon. Since the teacher had already prepared an activity for me to do with the class, I (wrongly) assumed things would have run more or less smoothly.

My students arrived to class quite happy (after all, it's fun being with the assistant), with some latecomers about 15 minutes after the bell... The students were supposed to work in groups of three, or pairs, and fill out a worksheet. I explained the activity to them, wrote examples of what they were required to do (in French and English) on the board, and walked around the class trying to help them out. Realising that some students weren't cooperating, I told them that I would have to speak to the teacher. They didn't want this, obviously, so most of them got to work.

Some students on the other hand ... well let's say that the combination of their listening to music in class (???!!!) , taking photos with their cell phones and plain not paying attention (esp. when sitting in the front!) just crossed the limit. The bell eventually rang, and I picked up worksheets left behind by two students. One worksheet was completed and the other one only had one line written. (later to be used as evidence ... hmm, not a good idea to leave your work behind!).

Well, I told the teacher about the problems I encountered. She and I went to the principal. Soon after, the four students in question joined us in the principal's office. In a way, I feel bad for the students. However at the same time, I needed to do something about their behaviour - show them that I'm not a pushover - else things would only get worse in class. Well, the outcome is that I will no longer be having those particular students in my class. The attitude displayed by one of the girls really had me wondering if I risk getting beat up outside school. I was assured that this will not happen lol. It's hard being like an intermediary... I'm not a teacher but I'm like a teacher... I'm younger than the teachers but I'm not much older than the students (ok, not old enough to be their mother, but I could be a young aunt lol) ... I guess it's hard for them too since they aren't sure how to treat me.

This is not an experience I enjoyed blogging about, so I just wrote the gist of what took place. I've been told that I am probably too nice to the students. Hmm, I don't know if I would say that. I prefer to be nice than to be mean (seriously, I put myself in the students' shoes.)... but somehow I'll have to work on not being a pushover. I'm getting there.