30 mars 2015

Dictionaries in an English lesson.

                This is what happened when I asked some of the girls in my class to give out the dictionaries. They walked all round the classroom with a couple of dictionaries on their heads, handed the dictionaries out to the other students, went back to the cupboard and put another couple of dictionaries on their heads, then started again. Keeps your hands free, you see.            
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16 février 2015

What do you want to be when you're older? Dunno, miss...

             Saturday was Job Forum day at school. Some well-intentioned and better-organized-than-the-others teachers had been collecting people for a few months now, people who came from different job horizons and who had agreed to come to our school and talk about their job to the students. Cue huge organization. The visitors had been attributed rooms, teachers were standing guard in each room and corridor, supervisors were going round with walkie-talkies, and each class had two... [Lire la suite]
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08 décembre 2014

Rain at School

                           It's been raining quite a bit recently. This is the effect of all this rain on my school: quite impressive, actually. Everything and everyone gets soaked five minutes in, the kids go swimming in the puddles, bags and books included, and you can't hear a thing because of the water pounding down on the corrugated iron roof. Even falling on concrete, rain is very noisy stuff, and when there's that much of it, you truly and... [Lire la suite]
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17 novembre 2014


                                      The 11th of November was Armistice Day. A bank holiday. I'd been looking forward to sleeping in and having a nice lazy day, knowing I would be playing bridge in the evening and that I had a bit of marking to do. A colleague of mine, however, didn't quite see it that way. He had invited two kids per class to come to the Armistice Ceremony, celebrated on the small island at 8.30, and... [Lire la suite]
15 septembre 2014

Cats and Miss.

             School's been back for three weeks now. I've met all my classes, and there's everything from sweetness and light to ear-splitting caterwauling in there. These are some photos of my school. Right at the top is the tropical almond (Terminalia Catappa, if you're interested) tree. Everything happens under that tree. That's where the kids line up to be taken to their next lesson, that's where they go when the fire alarm rings, and that's where the parent-teacher meetings begin... [Lire la suite]
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08 septembre 2014

The beginning of the end: my last back-to-school rush in Mayotte.

            School started again on August 25th. In Mayotte, the teaching profession has one of the highest turnovers I've ever seen. This year, only three new colleagues joined the English-teaching ranks in my school. Two had been teaching in various lycées before this year, and were still recoiling from the shock of collège. The kids are small... energetic... very noisy... don't understand this... aren't mature enough for that... and the new colleagues weren't quite sure what to make of them. The... [Lire la suite]

23 décembre 2013

Going Swimming At School

         The rainy season in in full flow now. This is a short video taken by one of my colleagues at school, a day when 9.2mm of rain fell in two hours accompanied by a pounding thunderstorm that made the headmistress decide to cut off the school's electricity because it was getting too dangerous. There are a lot of electric sockets very close to the ground, and most of our electrical wiring isn't protected by anything. As soon as it started raining, the kids ran screaming and shouting into the nearest... [Lire la suite]
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25 novembre 2013


             I'm working on crime at the moment with my students. In the first lesson, they came up with crime vocabulary in French and looked up the English words in the dictionary. Experience must have spoken because the first words they said were "rape" and "pedophile". What a start. Unfortunately, these are real problems here. They studied "newspaper articles" about hypothetical burglaries at "10, Upping Street, London" and filled in the above "Help Catch A Thief" page describing the guy... [Lire la suite]
30 septembre 2013

Parent-Teacher Meeting

                       It was National Parent-Teacher Meeting Day on Saturday. You can thank the Vice-Rectorate for that. What a mess. It started off innocently enough. Instead of each school organizing its own PT meeting, the high education authority in Mayotte decided to set one morning aside for all the schools to have their meetings at the same time. Saturday 28th September, from 7.30 to 11.30. So far, so good. Our school had planned on getting the teachers to show... [Lire la suite]
02 septembre 2013

Here we go again.

            School's back. Again. The yearly rush of pupils who have been hanging around the school doors for a good week now, staying outside all day and convincing their parents that classes had already started up, thereby getting out of working in the fields and cooking lunch. Kids who've moved on to the next school up shouting hellos in the street or popping up in the supermarket. The blank looks when the teachers ask the students to take a pen and paper, somehow imagining that said students might... [Lire la suite]
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