La fatigue

(it’s the same in English, I promise)

Teachers’ jobs are hard.  Even primary school teachers.  If you actually stop to think about what they do every day, having to keep the attention of 20-odd kids who have 20-odd different personalities and 140-odd different interests and 20000-odd different things distracting them at any given moment, trying to keep up with a set curriculum and getting all those kids with the hundreds of different interests and thousands of distractions to get to the right level of proficiency in all their studies by the end of the year, answering to the principal and the school board and the parents and the government and their own beliefs all at once…  Well, it’s tough.  And the hours aren’t exactly fun and games, either.  They grade homework when normal people eat dinner, they create lesson plans when they’re supposed to be on vacation over the summer, they stay an a hour and a half before and after school to create a daycare for kids with busy parents.  And for what pay?  Not much.

All this I knew.  All this I had grown to appreciate.

It’s still different when you experience it for yourself.

I had seven classes to teach today.  5th graders, 4th graders, 2 groups of 3rd graders, 2 groups of 2nd graders, and one of the 1st grade groups.  I sent one of the 4th graders back to his class because he started hitting the kid sitting next to him.  One of the 2nd graders burst into tears because it was too hard to repeat “My name is…” with heavy coaching, and then started laughing hysterically when we played “Simon Says.”  The 5th graders were all copying the girl who lived in San Francisco last year.  The 3rd graders were trying to guess what year I was born in, starting with 2003 and running through 2010.  I try desperately to understand anything they say in French on the first try, just to keep up an illusion of authority.  I try not to cringe when two boys say “No, I don’t wanna!” when English classes are announced, knowing (and being completely correct in the knowledge) that they will cause problems.

Now, I love the French school schedule.  Primaire kids go to school 24 hours a week: three hours each morning and afternoon, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday.  Technically, I’m supposed to be working for half of that time.  I’ll be putting in just as many hours just to keep up.

I’m going to bed.

Today went incredibly well.


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