Buenas tardes mi gente chismosa! Muchas gracias for checking out my page or for returning to el chisme spot. Regardless, if it’s your first visit, or 10th, bienvenidos! I have been super occupada at work writing report cards, end of the year projects, retirement parties y por supuesto having fun! I love being a teacher. Asi que hoy, let’s delve into mi vida as a French Immersion maestra. Grab your esnack, hoy tengo homemade banana muffins from mi comadre – deliiiishhhh! A chismear!
Que es French Immersion? French Immersion is a French language program offered in most school boards across Canada. It is a program for all chamacos interested in learning French, and it typically starts in kindergarten or in grade one. Los chamacos receive full day learning instruction in French and only a couple of subjects in English. Por ejemplo, in the school board that I work for, los chamacos begin in grade one and only receive physical education and religion (it’s a Catholic board) in English. Todo lo de mas, like science, math, social studies – is taught in French. Once they reach grade 4, the program minutes change: 50% of subjects are taught in English and the other 50% in French. Esta padrisimo!
Viendo how I teach grade one, I have the most demanding pero most rewarding positions in French Immersion (in my opinion). Los chamacos start grade one in September and know nothing in the French language. Empezamos muy slow jajaja most of September is “sandwhiching” everything I say in French and in English. Por decir, if I say Hello how are you? I would say that one sentence 3 times: Primero en French, then English, y despues French again. Trust me, I am so tired of talking by lunch time. Jajaja.
Seguimos adding more and more French, until ultimately weaning out all the English. By the time it’s November, they start understanding, following instruction and can say common phrases in French while adding one or two French words into their spontaneous conversations. Despues de Navidad, we come back in the new year with the “no English rule”. January es muy dificil jaja. They are really forced to think and speak in French, which pushes them to become resourceful in order to communicate their thoughts and needs. Para el March Break, everyone can pretty much communicate in French, with maybe a few English words popping in here and there. Increible verdad? I’m telling you, this program (& maestra jejeje) wooooorks!!
Ahora que ya es June, we are at the end of the year, and puedo decir that my class is FLUENT. They can talk about their weekends, their birthday parties, their likes and dislikes, they will tell you all about the chismes from recess and of course all the tattling too – TODO en French. No pos guuuuaaauu!! Claro, they know all their curriculum content as well in French, from vocabulary to writing and reading in French as well. It really is impresionante!
Our board’s motto for the program is “French for all”. La verdad is that everyone should have the opportunity to try it out if they are interested, committed and willing to put in some extra work. This program, like any immersion program supongo, takes dedication. Especialmente because los chamacos are not receiving much instruction in English, asi que that is up to the parents to commit to working on at home. Los chamacos are still expected to be at a grade 4 reading and writing level when they reach grade 4 and subjects are being taught in English. Pues, if you didn’t put in some extra work en la casa all those primary years, grade 4 may be a challenge. Y mas if you speak another language en la casa.
Ademas of keeping up your English skills en la casa, you are also dedicating time to gaining and maintaining new French skills. Asi que, every night (at least in grade one when they start) they have routine homework to work on. Pero, “how will I help them if I don’t speak French” <– the numero 1 question ALL parents ask. Every. Single. Year. Pues amiguitos, that could be bittersweet. Porque, anything that is sent home should be content your chamaco can do independently, or por lo menos be able to understand what is being asked of them in order to communicate it to you. Menos homework for you!! Jajaja, no te creas. Pero enserio, los chamacos should understand from class time what is expected of them and how to complete the tasks being sent a casa. Hola independent learners!! You’re welcome! Jaja.
La otra most common pregunta is “how will I know if I should put my chamaco (they say child, obvio) into French?” Honestamente, you won’t REALLY know, do we know the outcome of anything en esta vida? Nop. If your chamaco is doing well, thriving or is bored in kindergarten AND is meeting the expectations – PONLOS en French Immersion. If your chamaco is doing okay, has some struggles pero is muy interesado in French (from school exposure or elsewhere) – PONLOS en French Immersion. If your chamaco is struggling in kindergarten pero French immersion is something you’d like to give a try, tal vez they will enjoy it – PONLOS en French Immersion.
No importa the knowing if you should, la pregunta debe ser do I want to? If you want to, then you should. Ademas, you can always ask (and I highly recommend this) their kindergarten or preschool maestros. They will have a well rounded, professional opinion or suggestion that may or may not help you make your decision. Digo, may or may not help porque enserio, you’re going to do what you want to do, and that will ultimately be el mejor decision for your chamaco and your familia.
Okay, pues now that you’ve gotten the run down on the program I teach, go sign your chamaco up jajaja. Just kidding. Now you have a better understanding of what my teaching role is. It’s pretty irreal. Every year I get to experience a new group of chamacos who come in as blank slates and we get to colour them all up with French language and they leave as masterpieces. I’m like a Pablo Picasso. Jajaja. It’s the most rewarding feeling to now, in (almost) June, step back and admire these little beings who have acquired a whole new language in less than a year. I. Did. That. Queeeeee?!!!
Ya sabes, I love languages (I speak 4 fluently in case you havn’t been keeping up) and it’s el mejor gift that keeps on giving. Year after year, I give the gift of language to about 20 chamacos. Best. Job. Ever.
Not to mention those summers off… *cue eyeroll* Porque I know you’re thinking it! “Teacher’s have it so easy” they say. Pues te digo que it’s not like that! Yes, we get holidays off, we get march break, we have summers off, we get sick days – Pero we bust ass during those 10 months of escuela. Y esos sick days suck by the way jaja We keep losing them and get penalised if we use them all… Ya se, right!? No aguantan nada those sick days. De todos modos, those 10 months of planning, teaching, marking, evaluating, reporting, ADEMAS the clubs, choir, sports teams, school events, field trips, pizza days, Y MAS the bandaids for the booboos, the “they wont play with me” talks, the opening snacks, the I lost my tooth in the school yard and need to find it (SI that happened this year and I found it!!), It’s A LOT. Pero, it takes a village they say – pues, we’re a part of that village too.
It takes a special kind of person to become a maestr@. Our day job never ends at 3pm. La mayoria del tiempo, we’re at school until 4 or 5 – not me though, I bounce at about 3:10 todos los dias. Jajaja, no I’m not slacking – I have to go multitask now, porque I have to pick up Mireya from my in-laws and go home to do double duty: Mama y Maestra. It’d be easier to stay at work and concentrate on one thing at least. Pero igual, if we’re at la escuela or en la casa, we are constantly working on our job. Aveces we bring our marking home, and it will sit there – possibly travel to and from escuela a couple of time before actually getting to it, pero it gets done. Aveces we have to go out and buy (si, dinero from our own pockets) materials and things we need to do that craft or project. Aveces we have to stay up late writing report cards and can’t sleep porque we’re thinking about YOUR chamacos too. Aveces we give up our familia time to be able to be there for yours, school events and concerts. Aveces we’re even researching and finding resources to better help that one chamaco with their reading skills. Sin importar, we do it and we do it with amor.
Hoy, despues de la escuela, I attended a retirement tea for a colleague. This colleague has put in WOOOOORK. She’s been teaching at our escuela since it opened!! Siiii, she’s been teaching longer than I’ve been aliiiiiive. It made me really reflect on our role as maestr@s and how valuable each one of us are. I’m only 6 years into this career and every year I feel like the Raptors winning the Eastern Conference Championship jajaja!! <– They’re playing their first game in the Finals series with Golden State RIGHT NOW – Asi que, GO RAPS GO! Jajaja gotta show amor even if I’m writing at the same time, ya tu sabes! Regresando to what I was saying, every year it feels so accomplishing to see these little beings move on to bigger and better things, and knowing that I contributed to their lives in a positive way.
Finalmente, the last thing I want to mention are the familias. Every year I meet and get to know so many different familias. Every one of them is special and unique, we become a team and work together to guide and enjoy their walking corazones. It’s pretty amazing to experience how much teamwork matters and how much of an impact it can make for someone. Tanto como we work together for the chamaco, we also end up benefiting as well. I learn about my own strengths and weaknesses, and I always make un ezfuerzo to improve and cater to whatever needs come my way. Adicionalmente, there’s always at least one familia that I click with and become very good amigos with. I’ve met some of my dearest amigos through this job and I am so blessed for each and every one of them.
RAPS WON!!!! WHOOOOOOO!!! Just sayin! Jaja. Game 1 of the finals in la bolsa jaja.
I’m a Maestra, pero the beauty of this role is I get to play every other one as well: mama, nurse, counsellor, amiga, role model, librarian, even dentista sometimes jaja & if you’re wondering about that missing tooth in the school yard, I found it within 20 minutes. Pretty much a detective. jajaja. De todos modos, it’s crucial you do what you love. By doing so, you awaken the heart of others and you get to make a difference todos los dias.
Buenas noches mi gente!! Back at it tomorrow! That Maestra life. 🙂