Thursday, 27 May 2010

Disaster looming

Yesterday morning I stood outside, leaning on the old stone fence by the gate. The morning was fresh but comfortable and everything was peaceful. Chirrups from the sparrows, the occasional 'caw' by a crow flapping in a tree and the lacey patterns of the trees against the sky were so different to life back home. I was waiting for the french phlebotomist to arrive.

Corrine drove through the driveway and walked over with her very organised 'blood collecting' kit. She made an effort to speak some english words but we ended up speaking in french. She asked me if we had problems with foxes in the area. We hadn't but Corrine had lost 3 hens to a fox overnight.

Corrine was very good. One of the best I'd say. Usually phlebotomists have a dickens of a job finding my fine veins and then getting any blood out of them. I was about to point this out to her in advance when I realised I didn't know how to say it. While I searched for the words she had it finished. Then there was the paperwork and me handing over yet more euros for medical expenses. I am now informed it will cost me quite a bit of money to pay for the lab tests. That was the easy part of the day over with.

Each day we have a brief feedback session with our trainer to make sure we are on track with assignments and to discuss anything relevant. I was in for a nasty surprise. I was told my performance in the classroom the previous day was not acceptable. I would have to repeat it and be certain to get it just right or I would have to come back for the following month's course (impossible and he knew it). Well, I knew I had made a few mistakes in the process but the outcome was that the students had thoroughly enjoyed it, learnt what they needed to know and I had discovered I enjoyed doing it.

My good feelings about being in the classroom evaporated instantly and were replaced by extreme anxiety. Here was I, a successful teacher of more than 10 years experience, being told the main portion of my lesson was a 'mess' and that my charisma, personality, rapport and interesting exercises meant nothing. A robotic but complex manoeuvring of flash cards had let me down. There's no intelligence required with the process but it's extremely easy to get the sequencing out of whack. None of us had been aware in advance that passing the course depended on robotic-like precision. We do now. I was shocked. My colleagues were shocked. I haven't seen any of my other colleagues do it perfectly yet but I'm so far the only one who could fail this course and if that happens I feel my life and dreams are down the toilet.

My trainer then suggested in a round-out way that I reassess my weekend activities since some students do work during them (it's not compulsory). I pointed out that I work my butt off during the week until after midnight each night (sometimes later) with almost no time to do anything personal and I'm flat out looking for work.

Giving up my weekends to stay at this cold and primitive spot wouldn't do my sanity, health or performance any good. I'd end up going back to NZ having never experienced Brittany at all. Still, I must pass and there are many assignments still to go.

I spoke to fellow student Caroline who has agreed to let me practice on her early next week. I have sent a message to Pascal to request an opportunity to practice on Axel or, if not, himself. Otherwise I can offer a beginner's lesson for Axel and an intermediate one for Pascal. We'll see what happens. In the meantime I must start over and plan a different lesson as I'm not allowed to repeat the previous one.

Next week I must teach two language lessons plus a 90min grammar lesson. None of us has ever seen a demonstration of an actual lesson like that although our trainer has gone over aspects of functional and formal grammar with us in the past two days. I'll be trying to pin down a few more details of his expectations and marking criteria today, that's for sure. All we've been told it to include a warmer, grammar exercises and then a finishing activity. It's too vague for me to have any confidence now in what I'm doing.I need specifics.

Somehow I need to fit in time to do a week's laundry, dye my greying regrowth and do more prep for my coming assignments. This is an experience but at the moment it's not fun. OK, sucking it up and moving on to see what today rustles up.


Defogger said...

Love and best wishes and caring support as you face your challanges on your big adventure.

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