Morning Glory

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Morning Coffee

Morning Coffee

–       What time do you fin­ish?

–       I’ll be done at 4 p.m.

–       Alright, I’ll pick you up in front of the Supreme Court then.

–       The Supreme Court? Where is that? We’ve never ate there, have we?

Feng bursts out laugh­ing. Right. Not a Chi­nese restau­rant but the actual Supreme Court of Canada, located right behind Indus­try Canada.

Oh crap. It’s 8:50 a.m. and my brain is still sleep­ing. I ought to wake up.

I extri­cate myself from the car, a task harder than usual con­sid­er­ing I’m hold­ing a can of Diet Coke and that my hand­bag, slung across my shoul­der, is burst­ing with col­ored fold­ers, papers, pho­to­copies and pens.

I step on the side­walk and slam the pas­sen­ger door. I stand there and root around my hand­bag and pull out a lighter. Woo hoo, first vic­tory of the day, not a small one con­sid­er­ing the mess in my bag.

I brace myself for my first class of the morn­ing. Who, why, which floor, which room? Names of stu­dents flash through my mind. Oh. Them.

I’m the teacher. What we will do today is up to me. For now, I’m just sit­ting on the con­crete low wall in front of the Min­istry, men­tally prepar­ing myself for the daily tran­si­tion. From stu­dent to teacher, from trav­eler to office worker. From being bossed around to lead­ing peo­ple. Seems like I’m going some­where. But the change is brutal.

I get my pass from the secu­rity desk and head towards the ele­va­tors. We’re about twenty peo­ple on the main floor. Every­one is hold­ing some kind of caf­feine bev­er­age and we’re all star­ing at the green ele­va­tor light. 20th. 19th. 18th. I’d take the stairs but I can’t open the back door with my vis­i­tor pass. An ele­va­tor finally makes it to the main floor and every­one sight with relief.

We cram in the ele­va­tor. The woman on my left looks anxious.

–        Are you going to the meet­ing at 10:00?

–        No, I can’t. I have French.

–        Oh.

Her co-worker nods bleakly. Every­one in the ele­va­tor nods when they hear the word “French” as if at some infi­nitely painful mem­ory. I cower back and put my hand over my top folder’s title. “Gram­maire.”
Patiently, I give advice, cheer up stu­dents who always cry in class before the exam, I explain, I dis­sect French lan­guage, I repeat again and again.

I got used to the teach­ing lingo. Like when we fill up the log book:

  • Morn­ing: oral inter­ac­tion, empha­size put on past tenses and describ­ing.”
    Trans­la­tion: “talked about shop­ping all morn­ing with­out tak­ing notes.”
  • After­noon: cul­tural activ­ity with the class.
    Trans­la­tion : “intended to go visit the Par­lia­ment again, was too hot, ended up in a nearby cof­fee shop.
  • John needs to focus on his con­ju­ga­tions and build­ing up vocab­u­lary.
    Trans­la­tion: “this idiot has been in train­ing for 5 months and still can’t make a proper sen­tence by him­self.”
  • Quizzed the class on var­i­ous gram­mat­i­cal aspects of French.”
    Trans­la­tion: “any­one? Any­one? Any­one? No one would answer even the most basic ques­tion!”

I still some­times won­der what I’m doing here. I love teach­ing. But do I belong here, between the cubi­cles and the cof­fee room?


About Author

French woman in English Canada. World citizen, new mom, traveler, translator, writer and photographer. Looking for comrades to start a new revolution.


  1. I don’t think I belong in a classroom, although I generally enjoy teaching. I just know it’s not my natural environment – this makes me work harder I think.

    My main field of research is task-based learning, but it’s fairly clear that there’s no teaching approach that is ideal for all learners.

    I’m thinking more and more about a career change. Are shepherds in much demand in southern France?!

  2. I don’t think I belong even in my world.

    I feel like i have no friends here in my little neck of technology.

  3. I dont know if you belong there either… come to think of it I dont know where I belong! Oh man, so many questions so little time… when did it all began for me I wonder ( I got you to blame for this self existential crisis, thanks a lot Zhu…lol). It must have been that radioactive nutter that bit me when I was at kindergarden. Oh well, I may be one wacky individual but at least I got the science bug in me as well, so all is not lost, hooray (or bummer depending on perspective, lol) Although, it does get hugely repetitive some times…lol!

    Thanks for sharing!You know you got a real talent for making every day life seem just a little bit more enjoyable:) After all, happiness is all about the small things in life…

  4. Zhu, you have my complete and utmost admiration. It’s people like you with such patience and perseverance in teaching that provide for our future (however, I think I need to give you a lecture or 2 about the ills of smoking… lol!!).

    I love the post (and even more, the hilarious translations)

    Best wishes and have a fabulous weekend ~ Graham x

  5. choc mint girl on

    Hi, Zhu…

    I’ve tagged you for the Blogging Tips Meme.

    Please check out the rules in my blog.

    Thanks for participating!!!

  6. Princesse Ecossaise on

    lol! That’s a class post!

    I want to be you. I want to be a teacher. I want to teach my language and talk about shopping and learn the teacher lingo and be in charge of people and tell them what to do!

  7. ahhh a teacher now! Impressive! I have fond memories of teachers, most of them were quite good at being cool…

    I guess what I can offer in advice is that you should try to get the students be loyal to you before you start being strict. Worked for Sun Tzu and his troops lol.

    But I am sure you belong and will enjoy it. We all suffer from home sickness in any new transition so i hope you will have fun! Stick there and familiarise yourself!

  8. Teaching is a passion. So if you feel that burning inside you, you have to succumb to it and do what makes you feel alive. The good news is, teaching comes in many forms. You could be doing it inside the four walls of a classroom, or you could do it online. You can also do it as a mentor, or as a coach. It doesn’t even have to be full time. That’s from one teacher to another. 🙂

    The Goddess In You

  9. I’m not a teacher, but I don’t feel like I belong to my work place either. I don’t hate my job but I hate the way things are managed and the attitude of the people.

    I always wish that I could do a work that I enjoy very much, work that can make me jump out of my bed when I wake up in the morning, work with people who respect each other. But I’m not prepared for a career change yet.

    Shepherd? on a green field, fresh air, blue sky and far away from the rush hours…?

  10. John : I know for sure France needs a new president – you may wanna apply ? As for shepherds, not sure… Maybe another century ??

    Sir Jorge : come on, of course you have friends ! But people come and go… I had my fair share of disappointing friendships after I left for Canada, but eventually things get better 🙂

    Deadpoolite : sorry for the self-existential crisis. But your greek roots might be more to blame than me ? I mean, you guys are great for tragedies, right ?

    I love my job and I love teaching but the transitions from being a student to being a teacher, and discovering workplaces are as corrupted as universities was a shock to me 😉

  11. Getty72 : smoking ? What smoking ? Oh, it’s just cigarettes, come on, it’s genetic, I’m French after all ! 😀 I don’t even drink for god’s sake, I need a vice !

    choc mint girl : I’m gonna have a look at that 🙂

    Princesse Ecossaise : well, I can’t really give you my job. Otherwise, I’ll steal your Prince Charmant. But you’re welcome to my classroom anytime ! 😛

  12. Shan : I’ll try the Sun Zu trick 😀 Did you go to school in China ? Cause it’s quite different than western school, isn’t it !

    Joy : welcome here ! I do love my job. I love teaching. But I think I’ll eventually move to teaching newcomers in Canada, not civil servants. Just for a change of setting… Thanks for the advice !

    Zunnur : I don’t hate my job but I hate the way things are managed and the attitude of the people.

    I feel the same here. Might also be because it’s summer and I haven’t had holidays in 3 years come to think of it !!

  13. I had no idea you were a teacher! That’s awesome! We need more people like you in the world! My favorite line is when you describe everyone staring at the elevator numbers holding a caffine drink. Haahah so true!

    Great blog~!


  14. Hey Chica. I’m very sorry for not commenting. I did read your last post but I just didn’t comment. I have busy. I check things in between crap I have to do.

    I used to be a substitute teacher a few years ago. I had such fun but I only subbed elementary. The kids are so interesting and you never know what they’re gonna say.
    I admire teachers and think you should follow your heart. You only have one life to live so make the best of it and enjoy every minute!

  15. I feel so humbled. The only French words I know are the ones in the titles of Jean Renoir and Jean-Luc Godard movies. Oh, and merde. I know that one.

  16. Sebastian : not sure the world needs more teacher… Some people might but I’m slowly turning against education ! Just kidding 😉

    cowboytf : don’t apologize, you don’t have to comment everytime, just wanted to know how you were doing !

    I’d love to teach middle school. KIds are so curious… unlike civil servants at my school ! 😀

    Dan : oh, “merde” is the basic of French, so you’re almost one of us !

  17. Paper Fan Club on

    Your translations were hilarious! Also, I think it would be worthwhile to really open a restaurant called The Supreme Court. At least it would attract interesting clientele…

  18. ~*SilverNeurotic*~ on

    I don’t think I could stand trying to teach to people…especially when they really don’t want to take the class. Hopefully you don’t get too discouraged.

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