I somehow, some way successfully survived TAPIF. I’m here today to share my survival tips, websites and some lesson plans if you need some ideas on how to get started. All of these are obviously free. Some of the website you may have to sign up but nothing too difficult. Note that I taught at the lycée level so all of the resources are for that level although you could adjust them for collège.
You’re an assistant but you’re now an actor: an adult but not as old as other teachers, but not as young as you…and yet you are #relatable. Are you “madame” or are you “mademoiselle” nobody really knows. See this post that sums up my feeling quite well. So here are some tips and tricks to use in your teaching arsenal et bon courage.
Your role and responsibilities as an Assistant
Your schedule and classroom- should be about 10-12 hours a week, you may be splitting classes. Some weeks you may work everyday but you can always ask to have your classes grouped together. Sit down with your teacher/proviseur/department and lay down the responsibilities so it’s crystal clear. This is really their responsibility to you as you’re making time and have moved all the way to France to teach. If you’re uncomfortable with something speak up.
Observations- 1 to 2 weeks is typical. I had a few days…definitely sit it on classes besides English ones.
Questions to ask to define your job
Before anything establish how the school functions and what is your role in it. Are you co-teaching, teaching by yourself for entire class periods or only doing breakout sessions in groups. How many students will you be handling, at what grades and what levels? What technology and other resources will you have access to for your lessons and planning?
1- Access the average level of a class. Write down in a notebook- class, section time to differentiate them. Practice exercises with listening and speaking- pay attention to their vocab and grammar.
2- Learn their names- play games, take attendance orally and have them say here/raise their hand, try to use their names as much as possible, use their names when calling on them. Make sure you have access to the attendance/class list.
3- Make them feel comfortable and not shy in your classroom. Encourage them to ask questions
4- Create a kind of routine
5- Remember you’re the “teacher” and even though my academie said that we were not supposed to discipline I had to. Classroom management can be difficult to get a hold of at first but there are a lot of online resources, your school to turn to and teachers.
Did a lot of power points, sometimes using so much audio/videos would bring my own speaker/laptop when I was in a classroom that didn’t have it, kept my lessons and printouts on a flash drive and google drive to print them out as I switched classrooms very often. I basically had to download everything.
Technology and Equipment aka: Be prepared in case all technology stops working or you don’t have internet/ Be prepared for the unexpected. So always have some backup activities and games in your bag.
I had one half of a class one week (8 sometimes fewer- 18 students) and the rest the next week. So I could do a whole lesson for two weeks. Although the planning took a lot of time and I would sometimes tweak the lesson or the handouts in the first few days after trying it out. I didn’t always have time to go and do a trial before running the lesson for the first time.
Maybe 5-10 hours every two weeks in terms of how much planning I was doing to to the initial brainstorming to when the lesson is fully developed. Pacing is difficult at first but it helps to do your lesson and then go back and simplify it and time any media you’re using. You can also adjust materials for the levels of that class- more advanced videos, more difficult or easier worksheets, adjust your pace.
I liked having a set structure of how I did my lesson- 50-60ish minutes for each class, sometimes shorter due to lunch
First 3- Get class settled, take attendance
10-15 minutes- Question of the day, give students time to reflect and then ask them
15-20 minutes- Intro power point and talk about topic of that day
15-20 minutes- Interactive activity
Any remaining time to wrap up, play a game, get feedback
Lesson plans that work and are also mostly fun.
Intro lesson first! Do a lesson about you and where you came from. I loved all the questions the students had for me. Every class did not fail to ask me if I had a boyfriend or if I had ever met a “star”.
Other topics: Pop culture, technology, films/cinema, Anglophone music, Virtual tour of your home state/city, Regions and States of the US (How to pronounce them, what makes the regions different, how big is the US vs France), Elections (have the class do a mock vote), Holidays (I did Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, MLK day) these are great to show them the media (music/songs/movies/stories) that go along and the history and how we celebrate now), High schools/school system of the US.
Games that you can use that are actually engaging
Pictionary, Taboo, Scattergories (simplified), Bingo, Trivia/’Pub’ Trivia, Blind Test, Charades, Telephone.
Basically anything competitive, also using vocabulary. Some games you will have to simplify for time’s sake and their level.
General survival tips
Learn your students names the sooner the better. Try to use their names when calling on them don’t be afraid to ask them again. Gage the class’s levels at first so you know how to plan things appropriately.
You can do some open ended questions, listening activities and reading activities to measure the overall level of the course. Look at their eyes and their expressions and ask if they cannot understand. Encourage them to raise their hand to ask you to slow down or repeat. This is a crucial part of creating an environment where they don’t feel embarrassed but encouraged to participate.
I kept a notebook and would jot down the notes or things to know about classes. Maybe they had a high level and were engaged. Maybe they were easily distracted and had trouble with the class. Keep track of it all and it’s a good thing to report back to your mentor teacher. Especially if you’re having a hard time with a particular course. Keeping them engaged the whole time is difficult but give them just enough time for the activities, if it’s too easy or too hard they’re going to talk. Do things and pick topics they would like but keep it obviously educational. Think back to French classes or other high school language classes and what activities you liked the most.
As I was alone this may be different for you. I recommend learning some “classroom commands” in French. That way they’ll know you’re serious when you use them. Keep them engaged in the lesson and the level appropriate to prevent extra chatter and distractions. Don’t be afraid to tell your teacher(s) about a difficult class or even send for a surveillant if worst comes to worse. You’re the adult and in charge so even though you may be in a close age range to the students always remember that.
Links to my lesson plans: https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B94UMRhLP207a2RJQ3V0TVMyMTg?usp=sharing
Links to helpful sites:
PBS Learning media PBS overall is a great resource
Breaking News English News articles with different levels, text, audio and worksheets
I used everything from buzzfeed videos to audio from NPR articles. I even found resources from local museums and libraries online from back home in Michigan. Use what you may already consume. Students love music, videos and all things interactive.
Great general living in France resources:
So you think you can France Videos, blogs and a podcast about TAPIF and living in the different regions
Bonus: What the F&*%$ France?! a video series on the frustrations of living in France
If you have any questions leave a comment, message me on FB or shoot me a DM on instagram!