It’s been a long few weeks. Between report cards and parent teacher interviews and French class and teaching and life, I’m pretty tired but I had a decent sleep last night. I was in bed for 12 hours, wasn’t asleep for all of it but not too bad. Woke up with a sore jaw and vague memories of stressful dreams so I know I haven’t managed to calm the stress down completely but I’m getting there.
I decided to take another French course. The last one I took was good, I love the instructor, she’s fantastic, but I took the one geared towards people with an intermediate plus or advanced level of French (I have advanced) instead of the advanced plus to superior class. Last year I took the one for advanced plus to superior because it was on a day I could go and the lower level one conflicted with rehearsal. I got more out of the one last year. This one I felt like many of the people in the class were reluctant to try to talk which I found frustrating. I mean, it’s nice to be near the top of the class, but I didn’t feel as challenged as I had. So I was really happy that the instructor asked me and another student if we’d like to join this French writing class coming up. It’s geared towards a higher level of French but she thought we could handle it. It would be three Saturdays in November.
The first problem was that last week after finishing up my report cards and dealing with another issue on Friday, I completely forgot about class. I slept in, got some stuff done and then suddenly in the afternoon realized that I hadn’t gone! Well that was pretty terrible. I wrote the instructor and apologized. Then she sent me the homework we had to do for next week. Part of it involved going to this website and doing these diagnostic quizzes focused on verbs, specifically the subjunctive tense, which I’ve always found hard. Anyway, I finally got around to trying them out during parent teacher interviews and I’ve never been so frustrated. The first one I got 40%, and that was the highest mark I got. On one of them I got 5%. Yup, I got one question right out of 20! I was so frustrated! I couldn’t figure it out.
So I went to class yesterday but had sort of decided that if it was too hard, if I was too frustrated, I would leave at lunch. I know that being frustrated and feeling challenged is a sign of learning and that’s good, but if it was all too far above me than I wouldn’t get anything out of it. It turned out to be okay. Yes, it was really hard and yes, I did much worse than a lot of people but I also noticed that most of the people there were high school French immersion teachers and that most of them already have a superior certificate for speaking French and just want to improve their writing. So I listened and contributed a little and tried and pushed through my frustration. But I have to admit I cried a little on the drive home because it’s hard feeling that far behind. All I wanted to do last night was curl up on the couch and have my husband bring me food while we watched TV so I could recharge my batteries.
I know that my students, especially those who are new to Canada must feel like this a lot of the time. In fact, I met with a few parents who just came to Canada this year and they were worried about how their children weren’t as happy as they would like them to be. There’s one in particular, it’s more obvious because they’re part of a set of twins. One is very easy going and doesn’t mind making mistakes and takes all these new challenges very much in stride. The other is more competitive and more of a perfectionist. He’s used to being at the top of the class and is finding learning English and French and just being in a new country very frustrating. He’s unhappy. I get it. I totally get it.
Tomorrow I’m going to share this story about my French class and my frustration with my students. I’m going to tell them how frustrated I was and how much it hurt my self esteem to show those quiz results to my instructor and how I cried on my way home, but also how I decided to stay in the class and do the work and get past that frustration. How I did some self care and asked for some comfort when I needed it to help me deal with my emotions so that hopefully they will be able to make similar choices about their learning.