WOAH. We have been busy and we apologize for the lack of posts lately (although, maybe no one cares? But we do! We care so much!)  We are both experiencing extremely humbling encounters in our French Immersion classrooms.  We are overwhelmed French students drowning in a sea of verb conjugation (Karley) and language fluency (Meaghan).  The start of our third week of school has caught us off guard…

Our frantic, stress case text message conversation we had pre-study sesh tonight.
Our frantic, stress case text message conversation we had pre-study sesh tonight.

Basically, French school has hit us in the face in a large way.  Now, in case you all haven’t figured this out yet…Meaghan and I are what the world calls “perfectionists”.  We push ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally, academically to be our very best ALL the time.  We have always been this way (I think it’s a common trait among teachers).  Needless to say, French school has been a humbling experience for us so far, especially in the past few days, because we are both not the best in our class.  We’re both struggling (just a tiny bit!) with this fact.  We don’t mean to sound snobby, but very often school is not “hard” for us.  I mean to say, we have generally breezed through all forms of education with top grades and extra-curricular involvement with minimal struggle.  We know we are among the fortunate individuals; school is not easy for many people, our own students included.

This is my concentration face.  Gettin' my learn on as I conjugate, conjugate, conjugate.
This is my concentration face. Gettin’ my learn on as I conjugate, conjugate, conjugate.

Again, French school has shown us a valuable lesson while we continue to play the student role.  A few things we’ve noticed as observant teachers in the student’s chair:

K: I love my teacher.  She is hilarious, to the point where my class is laughing every five minutes.  I love how my teacher does not directly translate a word for us – instead, she provides additional description (en Francais!) to help us find the French word we are looking for.  For example: The word “cerise” came up in conversation today.  Someone didn’t know what it meant, so instead of saying, “cherry”, my teacher explained: “Rouge, fruits, petite, rond…” and eventually the questioning student understood without having to hear an English word.  I’m definitely filing this strategy away for a future FSL class!

M: Wow! It’s so hard to push yourself to do something that is so intimidating! I’ve ended up in a situation where I feel insecure about my own level of French and my fluency to the point of not wanting to participate in discussions some day. This is so not like me – typically the one in the front row with my hand up for every question! What’s happened? The tables have turned and I am not the star student, I’m the one struggling to keep up with what is going on in the class. I’m now the one who has to spend lunch hours making vocabulary lists and my before read reading has turned into a last minute study session. Is this a bad thing? Not at all! Although I’m almost always patient and empathetic with my students I have come to the realization that I really did not know what it was like to struggle so much with a class. Next time one of my students seem withdrawn from a class discussion I’m hoping that I will remember what I am going through this summer. Live and learn, hey?

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