I was a student not that long ago. Now, I’m the teacher. I make the rules in my classroom where cell phones have to be switched off and notes must be taken.
My students are usually twice my age. They sometimes have an impressive background but they need me. They need French. According to the law in Canada, federal government employees must have some knowledge of French. There are three levels of exams : A (minimum knowledge), B (pretty fluent) and C (bilingual). I mostly teach B and C levels although I do teach a few beginners as well.
My students are office workers. I’m not – and their field of work and the arcane of the ubiquitous bureaucracy can be bewildering for a rookie like me. Like when I was filing up for another teacher last week for a Canada Revenue Agency class. So I came into the class, introduced myself and asked the students to do the same, one by one :
— So, could you tell me where you’re working and what do you do exactly ?
— I supervise of the B-13 pilot program.
— Which is… ?
— A new program replacing the B-12 program.
I sometimes give up on trying to understand the logic behind government policies. So many examples, so little time…
- To have an employee move from office A (by the window) to office B (by the door) transiting by office C (by the elevator) for a week. Employee gets a day off for each move, of course (computer has to be disconnected, tech guys called etc.)
- To sent someone in French even though he’s semi-retired and won’t learn a thing.
- To grant an employee a 3 hours/ week French class. Of course, the employee is a total beginner and of course he has to be fully bilingual within a month. And of course, I’ll have the honor of being his teacher, and therefore will be blamed for his lack of progress at the end of the month.
Teaching six or seven hours a day can be harassing. You have to deal with students requests (No, I don’t believe words should be masculine and feminine. Who cares, anyway ?), administration requests (Would you mind teaching a class of total beginners, from 8:00 to 9:00 am everyday across the city ?) and your coworkers requests (Yeah, I didn’t follow your plan. Wasn’t really inspiring and the students say they knew everything already).
Or you do like me. You give a test to get a little bit of free time (reading the paper with a cup of hand and a muffin is always a relaxing treat)… a test that you’ll then spend the night correcting. Oh well, I guess there’s not way out…