If you ARE here, and you DO read this blog – hello.
I don’t really know if there’s anyone left reading my blog after the Wibsite was down for so long, and then I was forced to take a couple of weeks off blogging as we didn’t have Internet/phone access for two weeks. SFR and France Telecom finally worked out what was wrong with the line, but in the interim I was left toting my bag full of folder round to various friends who let me use their telephone for my phone lessons. I also used my mobile quite a lot, but because the connections weren’t good – I couldn’t find a very good signal – the lessons involved quite a lot of loudly spoken, very clearly ar-tic-u-lat-ed repetitions.
“In the weekend, I work in the country” “No, Pierre, be careful with the pronunciation and tense.” “Uh? I didn’t hear” “Be careful with the tense.” “Uh?” “The TENSE – it’s in the past. I WALKED in the country” “I WORKED…” “No, WALKED” “WALK in the country” “Good pronunciation; but the tense? This is in the past, remember.” “Ah yes, I WORKED in the country” (And breathe)
Of course, without internet access I couldn’t blog, or catch up with those blogs I like, or go aboard The Ship – it was a revelation to me how much I do actually use the computer, when I would have said I didn’t use it much at all!! I certainly read more in the fortnight when we didn’t have the internet. Oddly, I’d have thought I would have crafted more, but no. Maybe I’ll do a little bit this afternoon – it will be my last chance for a while .
You see, I mightn’t be around much for the next few weeks as I’m going away to the UK to work during the summer. Readers who have managed to cling onto this leaky vessel of a blog might remember that I went to the UK to work last year, and wrote a couple of plaintive posts from Downe House, in the midst of the beautiful countryside around Newbury.
Certainly at the beginning, I found it really difficult, as the whole setup seemed maddeningly disorganised, with so much being dumped on the teachers who were just expected to cope. Now, I CAN teach “on-the-hoof” if necessary, but never feel comfortable doing so, especially in an unknown set-up, with students that are unfamiliar, where expectations are unclear and where I feel nervous anyway. I prefer to have everything very well planned and to know what I’m doing. Or at least have a vague idea. By the end of the five weeks, I sort-of knew what I was supposed to be doing, I was able to get stuff prepared and I felt infinitely better about the experience.
So much so that – hey! Look! I’m going back again! It is, I will admit, partly for the filthy lucre, as I won’t have much other work during the summer, and MrD hasn’t yet been able to find a job. But it’s an opportunity to do something a little different and to stretch myself a bit. I feel slightly better about it this year, because I know how the set up works: we won’t know until Monday what level we’ll be teaching, so there’s no point worrying about it. At the moment, I don’t even know what age group I’ll be teaching: either 7-10 year olds, or 10-13 year olds. Last year I taught the older ones, so there’s stuff already prepared that I could use; however, I think I would prefer the younger ones. But I guess it depends on how many children of each age range there are, so it’s wait and see.
I will have to keep reminding myself:
This was where my problems lay last year. I got worked up about stuff that, eventually, in the long run, didn’t matter. So, the kids ate their packed lunch when they got onto the bus. Well, they’re old enough to make the decision themselves, and if they are a bit peckish mid afternoon they won’t die from it. I don’t have to check up and tell them not to eat until lunch time. Over and over again. So, they swop with their friends and have four bags of crisps and three chocolate bars for lunch. Well, again, they won’t die from it. I’m not their parents; I’m actually not that responsible for checking up on their diets for a fortnight… So, they get a bit rowdy at times – I do not need to wade in with my size 7s and yell at them as though they were in school. Yes, I need to quieten them down, but try to be more gentle and humourous about it. I was far too strict, far too disciplinarian: they need boundaries, but they also need to be able to enjoy what they’re doing and StormTrooper-Teacher Dormouse isn’t necessarily the way.
Whether I will be able to go from wound up to laid back I don’t know. But I’m going to try.
I’ve already planned the Gastronomy workshops for the whole five weeks – I’m hoping that I’ll be able to lead the Gastronomy workshops again which I enjoyed very much. (Although the first week was rather chaotic and terrible, I think I got the hang of it quite quickly!) Last year, I knew before going that I would be leading the Gastronomy workshop for the 10-13 year olds, and I’d be there for 5 weeks. This year I don’t know which workshop I’ll be leading, I don’t know the age group and I don’t know how long I’ll be there. Ho-hum.
I’ve also packed all my resources for 7 – 10 year olds, so I do feel at least VAGUELY prepared…which makes me feel less panicky. I’m even taking my popcorn maker. I reckon that if I am taking Gastronomy it will be useful; and if I’m not, I’m sure that I can use it in the less frenetic afternoon sessions with my class – we can make popcorn, make bags or boxes (following instructions! Working collaboratively!) and then eat it! Maybe design a poster on the computers as well. If nothing else, I can bribe them with popcorn, in a similar manner to Pavlov’s dogs!
Just as a little reminder for me, of the sweet kiddies from last year, here they are at Warwick Castle