CIPEC Week Ten: A Bientôt CIPEC
Since it is my last day at CIPEC, we spent the afternoon walking through the forest and the fields on our way to the Sorcerer’s house. The sorcerer of CIPEC only comes out on Halloween and runs through the hallways scaring the students and throwing out candy. Even though the sorcerer is only the principal’s son, the students take the matter very seriously and often become scared even at the mention of a sorcerer. The sorcerer’s house is a deserted mansion past the forest that surrounds CIPEC. On our way to the house, we passed wheat fields, patches of wild flowers, les champinions, an old Citroen horse trailer and huge oak trees with acorns beneath them. On each leg of our journey, Marie-Christine stopped and explained different aspects of nature to the students. I didn’t even realize how much we were learning until we were back in the classroom. We learned about different flowers, how acorns grow, and about the park ranger’s responsibilities. This topic came up when we came across when we found corn on the ground beside a tub of water. I didn’t realize that in France people are paid to feed and give water to animals.
Besides going on a hike, we also learned about Noël. Marie-Christina read a story to the children and then they colored in St. Nicholas worksheets since it’s St. Nicholas’ day this Saturday. I’m not sure how well the students enjoyed the activity because they were told to only use yellow, brown, and purple to color in the drawing since these are the traditional colors. Many students wanted to use green or red but they weren’t allowed. However, afterwards, Marie-Christine explained the history behind planting seeds on December 6th and I translated the story to English. Then, each student was given their own bowl and we planted our own seeds! The students loved playing with the cotton, using water, and wouldn’t stop talking about who’s plant would be the biggest.
This semester, I’ve been so fortunate to be able to work with Madame Pecnard and Marie-Christine at CIPEC. Originally I thought this experience was going to be completely different than teaching in the US but I’ve slowly realized that it’s really not very different at all. Even though the systems are different, I’m in a completely new place, and the students mostly all speak French, the experience of teaching at an International school was very similar to teaching students in the US. I imagine it’s very similar to the experiences of my friends who are currently teaching in Hawaii, Oregan, and South Korea. Regardless of the cultural differences, children all have the same needs, desires and fears. I started noticing this when I taught at an inner-city school in Boston last fall and then a private school in Boston in the spring. Even though the students came from completely different backgrounds, they struggled with the same math problems, they had the same friend issues, and they all hated school lunches. Learning to look at all students through different lenses while keeping in mind they are all children is a lesson I think every teacher should learn.
Teaching abroad and learning about other education system has also made me become interested in possibly teaching abroad after graduation. Many of the teachers at CIPEC taught in different countries when they were younger and they all had fantastic experiences. The drama teacher I worked with met her husband while studying abroad and then returned to France after graduation to teach at CIPEC. She ended up marrying the boyfriend she met here during her undergrad study abroad program and they now have three children who speak both French and English perfectly, and without accents. Learning about other education systems in class has also been a great learning experience and will help me decide where I want to teach if I do pursue teaching abroad. If not, the information I’ve learned this semester has been extremely interesting and I hope to learn more about other country’s’ education systems such as the internship programs in Germany and how students in Finland have the same teacher throughout most of their schooling. Hopefully these are topics I can explore more in future courses back in the states.