I’ve just finished my first full working week in Lyon. I started earlier than anticipated at the bilingual primary school, as one of the anglophone teachers took a tumble and broke a lot of ribs. I’ll be filling in for her for at least another two weeks.
The way the school runs is interesting. Each class of around 35 students has two teachers, a francophone and an anglophone. The class is split into two groups; one group works with the French teacher in the morning, the other with the English teacher. After lunch, they swap. I teach basically the same program morning and afternoon. On the French side, they follow the national curriculum. The English side is just that – English. Reading, writing, speaking and listening.
My days went something like this:
9:00 – 10:40 Class
10:40 – 11:00 Recess – 3 groups, two teachers on duty, the other in his/her classroom with the ill or the naughty.
11:00 – 11:50 Class
11:50 – 12:00 Short recess, teachers turn into waiters/waitresses and set up canteen
12:00 – 1:00 Lunch, teachers on canteen duty serve the kids their three-course lunches
1:00 – 2:00 My lunch hour
2:00 – 3:40 Class
3:40 – 4:00 Recess – same as the morning, except the kids have a snack
4:00 – 4:50 Class
4:50 – 5:00 Pack up, home time for some, off to études or garderie for others.
5:00 – 6:00 Supervised study for the primary kids (études), babysitting (garderie) for the kindergarden kids.
6:00 – 7:00 Babysitting all the kids who remain. The school closes at 7.
It was…intense !
Other teaching tidbits, good and not so good (some are as I understood them, and could be incorrect – most of these conversations were in French !):
- All times are approximate, as there’s no bell – you have to watch the clock !
- Lunch time yard duty is done alone, for one hour.
- We can apply bandaids, and administer medicine.
- Duty hours (canteen, yard, study hour, babysitting) are paid at a lesser hourly rate than teaching hours, and have to be entered on a different time sheet.
- We have 36 teaching weeks per year.
- We get paid monthly, and my monthly wage will be less than my fortnightly wage in Australia.
- We have very few opportunities for professional development.
- Teachers eat for free at the canteen, and teachers’ children learn for free et the school (they have to pay the canteen fees though !).
- Kids can start in maternelle (kinder) while they’re still in nappies.
- We have one and a half hours planning time every fortnight.
- The public and private systems are the opposite as to what they are back home in regards to resources and funding.
- I can’t work in the French public system, as I don’t have a French diploma.
I know I shouldn’t compare because it’s just so different, but I can’t help but feel that I was spoiled in Australia !