Just hang out with them

I love my 10th/11th graders. The way they arrive already sets the tone for the class to come: They enter my room, a smile on their faces,  sit down, maybe ask one or two questions before class begins, look at me, ready to start, and welcome almost anything I offer them. They allow me to simply relax, follow my intuition, and, if I am not sure about something, share my thoughts and insecurities with them. They are highly capable to communicate. They are full of good ideas and good will, they appreciate being offered a large variety of things we do in class.

They are my CI pioneers. I still remember the relief in their eyes when, three and a half years ago, I started to change many things in my French classes. They suddenly had the – true – feeling to understand almost everything. They were relieved to see that they didn’t have to speak in whole sentences, didn’t have to read if they didn’t feel safe to do so, didn’t have to do so much homework any more, and were not corrected all the time.

We started off with TPR, then tried to do our first stories and did the readings. We read, translated and discussed easy novels, and talked about songs. It was such a pleasure to watch them grow step by step, improve their French and – at the same time – to grow myself. I literally rediscovered the joy of teaching a foreign language – thanks to people like James Asher, Blaine Ray, Ben Slavic, Susan Gross, Laurie Clarcq, Michele Whaley and many others that proved to be generous and ready to help.

Life is often difficult at school, and there is not one day like the other. Teachers have to cope with so many problems that it is no longer possible to just teach a language. It is the quality of the human relationship between teachers and students that counts. Real communication is necessary, not a fake one based on boring manuals.

Thank you, class, for making my day ever so often. Thank you for comforting me when I have to struggle the class before. Thank you for calming me when I am upset. Thank you for showing me each day that it is possible to just talk to one another. Thank you for your good will, your kindness and your trust. Thank you for inspiring me. Thank you for accepting me as your teacher.

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