The lycée in Founzan is maybe 3 km south of my house which isn’t too far; it takes about 10 minutes to bike to school. I’ve been trying to start this post for days now and that’s the best I can do opening sentence-wise. Was it attention grabbing? Would my 11th grade English teacher approve? Ugh sorry Ms. Nasatka.
The first week of classes was all administration stuff: I showed up ready to do an introduction and pretest to gauge the kids’ mathematical understandings but no classes were held, just payments for the year and schedules and such. I received my schedule too and I’ve got to say I’m not sure they could have placed 10 hours of work more sloppily over a 5 day schedule.
Monday: 5eB 7h-8h
Tuesday: 5eB 7h-9h, 6eA 11h-12h
Wednesday: 6eA 9h-11h, 5eB 15h-17h
Thursday: no class aka dolo day
Friday: 6eA 15h-17h
I have no basis for complaint, however; I’m a new teacher and I’m only teaching 10 hours a week while most other teachers are working around 22 hours a week. 5eB is my cinquième B class, the equivalent of 7th grade math but most of my students are 17 or 18 years old. There’s a kid who sits in the very back who is as tall as me. There are two little boys in the front row on the left who giggle so much that I had to look up the word giggle in french to address it. 6eA is my sixième A class which is the same as 6th grade in the US. Both classes have around 75 kids plus 25 crowding the doorways and windows to watch the white guy show. It’s a pretty cool show. Involves me sweating profusely and struggling to teach math in french to a bunch of blank faced apathetic teenagers.
Week two was frustrating because most of it was spent trying to get the books for my classes from my homologue (ya know, so I could teach). My ambition to be prepared and have my lessons planned out was met with a disconcerting amount of surprise and confusion from my fellow teachers and it took a few days of constant annoyance on my part before I got the books and was able to begin lesson planning. All I really got done in the classroom this week was introductions (je m’appelle monsieur clay comme le clé de la porte je ne parle pas francais), a pretest (for 6eA I made it too easy and I think they all got right around 100%, and for 5eB I made it too hard and about two kids passed), and I gave the syllabi for the year.
During week three, with 10 minutes left in my Monday morning 5e class, some 2nd and terminale kids (equivalence of 11th and 12th grade) showed up at my classroom door and asked if they could have my class’s attention. « Sure guys have my class’s attention come on in. » They took all my kids outside to the school’s main courtyard along with all the other students and called for a two day strike on account of the teachers’ questionable habit of not showing up to class. So no classes Monday or Tuesday. I showed up Wednesday morning for my 6eA class but it turned out the strike was raging onward: all the students were in the courtyard and the teachers held an impromptu meeting which to the best of my low-level-french-comprehension knowledge had very little to do with the fact that they weren’t coming to classes and clearly the cause of the striking around us.
Week four was this past week and things went alright. I don’t necessarily want to be a teacher. I didn’t want to be a teacher in the US and it turns out I don’t want to be one in Africa either. There was only one way to find that out for sure though so here I am. It does give some structure to my day, which is really nice. I was and still am more interested in the cultural exchange of things: learning a new language, eating new food, wearing ridiculously patterned clothing. And that’s all going well. If I have to teach 10 hours a week to do that stuff it’s going to be worth it.
There’s more to be said but I’d really like to sleep now. Thanks for reading.