In 2014, I found the courage to leave nearly everything (inlcuding my job) and everyone behind to move to France. Having a chéri waiting for me at the aéroport certainly helped calme my fears!
I also had a job lined up: I was accepted to work as an an assistant de langue in 3 écoles primaires in Marseille. Finding a job in France is tough enough for actuel Français, so it was nice to know that I had a job for at least 7 mois.
I had such an amazing aventure that in Janvier 2015, I filled out the form to renew the program. This was also the “easiest” way to have a somewhat secured job in France (as noted above: jobs are hard to come by). It was also nice to know that Américains (without a carte de séjour) can renew a second time through the CIEP. The process through the CIEP is less complexe than the process through TAPIF in the USA.
In Juin 2015, I was accepted to work a second year; however, I was placed in a lycée (high school) and a collège (Middle School). This expérience was complètement différente from the first year – and this différence had nothing to do with how hard it was to work with a newborn around.
After a year of job searching while working as an assistante de langue, I decided to renew again for the 2016-2017 school year. In Août 2016, I was accepted again as an assistant, though this time I went directly through the Rectorat as an Assistante Locale. With a carte de séjour vie privée et familiale travailleur, I was able to aply for the assistantship through the Rectorat. I worked at a différent (same city) lycée and a collège – both much more organized – than the previous year. I also found a second job (thanks to Pôle Emploi) with the agency O2 Kid Aix as an Enlighs speaking nanny; but it was only part time. So, I decided to do both since the assistant-gig would still be my main job source. This was “easy” for me because I’m vehicle equipped. So, I could get from one job to the other in a more timely manner than if I had to go by transportation public.
I also decided that this would be my last year as an assistant and was even more determined than before to find something more full time and closer to me. This means that I worked as an assistante de langue during the 2014-2015 school year, the 2015-2016 school year, and the 2016-2017 school year. Each experience differing from the last (as I was in différent schools all 3 years). Thus showing that even in the same city, school organisation differs completely – leaving me wondering how “égalité” fit into this situation.
If you’re having trouble deciding on primaire ou secondaire, then let the liste below be a guide on what to expect. It’s important to note that not all expériences are equal.
Some of the main différences between assisting in primaire and in secondaire:
- Assisting in primaire
- I make my own leçons (on basic English concepts).
- I teach the classe entière (25-30 kids) while the teacher is présent (the teacher only intervenes for disciplinary raisons) or while the teacher is out on a quick smoke/coffee break or making copies.
- I have very little online accès at the school and no copy machine code (except in those schools where a code is not nécessaire).
- I have none or very little technologie to use in the classroom. If I want to play a song (such as The Days of the Week), then I must bring my own computer/mp3 player and speakers.
- I work every planned day (except holidays). If a teacher is absent, I stay at the school either in the “teacher’s lounge” or in the computer lab (if the shcool has one) doing nothing during the 30 minutes or hour of that teacher’s classe.
- Assisting in secondaire
- Sometimes I make my own leçons (more advanced or BAC focused or BTS focused), while most most days I help the teacher. Some days, I knew the teachers’ leçons in advance and could therefore prépare something; other days, I was informed minutes before the start of classe.
- Either I help the teacher (usually, this consists of walking around and intervening while the students work in groupes) or take half the classe to a separate room for the whole time or for half the time (half the time: 2 groupes of 15 students in a 45 minute period).
- Normalement, an internet accès code, a copy machine code, and room keys are provided; however, during the 2015-2016 school year, I ended up having to use the computer code from last year’s assistant and was never given a key, which made taking half the classe to a room (often miles away from the original teacher’s room) quite difficile. During the 2016-2017 school year, I learned that the school is required to give assistants a key – so, remember Rule #1: Don’t hesitate to harcèle the secrétaire, the directeur/ice, and the Rectorat for keys and the codes for computer/internet and copy machine accès.
- I have accès to computers, speakers, Epson and the internet, so I can show Prezi powerpoints and vidéo clips in the target language.
- I can leave the school when the teacher is absent or for any other raison for classe annulation (this means that I can go home if I have no other classes that day or if I live nearby the school and can return for any later classes). This happens frequently especially during the end of the year with the Bac and the Brevet examens.
Each TAPIF experience is différent but it’s always good to know a little bit about what is expected of you in the classroom and what is expected of the schools. Remember: In secondiare, you get keys to your own classroom! The person in charge of the assistants in each académie at the rectorat will fight for you on this one as you can’t be of good use if you can’t get into your classroom! ♦