An anglophone from the west. A francophone town. Hoo boy.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Thank God it's not a school day

There's a lot of ups and downs when it comes to supply teaching.

I get paid pretty well.
Seeing the little lightbulb go on over a student's head when they understand something is a beautiful moment. Especially in math.
I really like doing math.
There are a bunch of entertaining ex-pat Albertans who have ended up teaching in Trois-Rivières.
I am only teaching in one subject area.

I have never taught in this school system, never taught these courses, and the woman I'm replacing has left me with nothing. I therefore have no idea what student's have and haven't covered already, and I get the horrible feeling that I will be asked to stay on the rest of the year. I'm not ready for that.
Being the fourth or fifth supply teacher in two months makes it all that much worse.
I am not qualified to deal with students who have major behavioural issues.
Dreaming about lesson planning is not relaxing.
My French has deteriorated to the level of a junior high school student (and I swear a lot more).
Having a class go really well, and then realizing it was because a large portion of the class had been suspended.

It's been an intense week. In theory, I will be done with it at the end of next week. However, everyone but the administration has told me that I will be asked to stay on longer. So now I have to think about how to deal with that when the time comes.

Friday, March 21, 2008

this one goes out to all you teachers...

Week one as a Math teacher is finished. Two more weeks, possibly more, to go. If it was just about teaching math, things would be fine. But of course, I'm teaching that very special age group -- grades 7 through 9. Yikes. These kids need more than a replacement math teacher. Yesterday I had a steady stream of other teachers stopping in to see how I was doing, maybe to make sure I wouldn't leave and never come back. Yes, it's that kind of group of kids I have. Lots of serious behaviour problems. All the teacher shuffling hasn't helped them.

Let's put it this way: I'm glad I have a four day weekend. And to all you people I know and love that do this every day -- wow. You guys are amazing.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

me talk english real good

I did an interview today to teach English in French schools, in the Canadian government's answer to the JET program. The goals are to teach English to French students, and to share the cultures of different provinces.

The interview was all in English, except for a brief batch of questions in French, to see if I was capable of communicating. The interview went well enough that they started talking about what schools they could place me in to take advantage my science background. Of course, being a government program, I won't find out for a while, but it would be a relatively easy, well paying job that would put me in a French-speaking work environment. And (hopefully) keep me in Trois-Rivières.

I'd rather get accepted at McGill and get back into the wide world of science, but it's good to have back-ups.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

I've made a huge tiny mistake*

Guess who starts work next week? If you said Tommy, you'd be wrong.

I've been running back and forth all day between home and "English school street", and the final analysis is that I'll be teaching high school math for the next three weeks. I've got a load of textbooks and no idea what I'm doing. I'm sure it'll be fun. I'm the third replacement teacher for that class this calendar year.

Did I mention I have no idea what I'm doing?

* Arrested Development people. I'm telling you, it's gold.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

almost good news?

It's no wonder I've been feeling up in the air lately.

I've got numerous job applications on the go, two job interviews successfully completed but still no sign of actual work, an application for graduate school in the fall that seems to still be missing a letter of reference, and another job interview next week. In theory, this means things are going well for me, right? Yes, getting to the interview stage is great. Having a successful interview is better. Having an interview that leads to actual work and a paycheque? It seems that's too much to ask.

Yesterday, I met up with an employer for coffee. We've reached the coffee stage. She gave me a load of materials for teaching, but no hours. We've been trying to arrange this meeting for two weeks now. Sometime soon I may even get to sit in on and/or teach a class. But of course, it all depends on how many students sign up. Such are the trials and tribulations of working for a private language school.

Last week, I dropped off a few applications to work as a supply teacher. Conveniently for me, it was the last day before the start of spring break*. So there wasn't actually anyone around in a position to interview me. I should hear more this week.

And today, I got a call from a potential doctoral supervisor. It seems people are keen to have me, I've theoretically been accepted (with an entrance scholarship no less), but there's no guaranteed funding to make it a lock. So things are moving in a positive direction, but nothing is guaranteed.

I supposed I should be less thrilled about that last one than I am. Of course I'd rather be officially accepted, but hearing that I'm in theoretically is great. It's gotten me all excited about doing things that aren't teaching English. To be honest, the thought of teaching English again kind of makes me want to cry. Even if there's money involved.

Lets all keep our fingers crossed now. I'm going to go study some more Spanish, on the off chance I end up in Panama this summer.

And if anyone out there feels like funding my PhD, I would be happy to accept.

Sorry. Sometimes I have to let these things out. It's funnier if you've watched Arrested Development. "Say goodbye to these!"

Monday, March 10, 2008

it seems to have snowed here...

Yesterday was (un)surprisingly quiet, after the super-snowstorm that started Saturday (ooooh - alliteration!). We were supposed to be busy as it was the boy's birthday, but festivities were cancelled due to snow. Just as well. He's getting ready to leave on a school trip to the Dominican Republic, and along with all the standard stress of getting ready to go on a trip there are plenty of extra headaches. It says something that one of the lesser headaches is that the hotel they were supposed to stay at no longer exists...

But back to the snow.

We went out for dinner Saturday night, and walking the two blocks to the restaurant was an adventure to say the least. Downtown was a ghost town and the wind was blowing hard enough to make my face burn. Getting all prettied up to go out for dinner was kind of pointless with all the wind and snow.

On Sunday morning after the storm, we hopped on the bus to go buy groceries. The sidewalks around the bus stop were not priorities for snow clearing, so there were hip-height snowbanks blocking the doors to the bus. On the way back home, the bus ran the residential slalom between cars parked on the street while people dug out their driveways. Have I mentioned how glad I am that I don't have to shovel here? Snow was piled up on lawns, reaching the same height as the houses in some cases. Our street was cleared in the early afternoon, but only because we live downtown.

The news is full of school closures, flight delays, road problems, and transit issues.

It's times like these when I'm glad I don't have a car.

Cat status update:
No longer hiding all the time, but remains torn between desire for affection and acute fear of human movements.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

He! Mon ami!

I don't know if Les têtes à claques exist outside of Québec (and by that I mean in English), but this video made me giggle.
Check ça!

Le LCD shovel

The fruits of a long collaboration between the scientists of NASA and Canadian Tire!

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

new addition

It was only a matter of time. Say hello to Tommy. He arrived Sunday and has spent most of his time since then behind the couch. His previous owner had to give him up because of allergies, but secretly, I think she just decided she didn't really like having a cat after all. The hand-off was a bit weird that way. Anyways. He's sure to have a good home here. And he'll be able to learn English too. Because it's always good for a cat to have a second language.