The thing about school

12 January 2010

Today I mastered yet another challenge thanks to patient French people. I had my appointment with Linus’ teacher today and the lady does not speak English. I am sure she is able to, but being a proper FLE teacher, she refuses to speak English with parents or pupils. But she was patient and understood what I was saying. Being a proper teacher she corrected and praised appropriately :). Knowing that I would have to speak French, I was a bit apprehensive before the meeting, particularly since I had heard gossip about parent-teacher meetings with three teachers ‘versus’ one parent. So I went into school expecting a French teacher panel. In preparation I had ‘armed’ myself with a list of questions and phrases I had looked up and written down. It turned out there was no need for this! It was just Linus’ teacher  and me and she took half an hour to talk with me. She was lovely and really more understanding than I had expected at all from a French teacher.

I have to explain why I had come to have such a negative attitude, I think. It is all because pretty much since school has started, I have heard all sorts of negative stories about the school, particularly the collège, which Linus attends at the moment.  These stories were all about children being shouted at in lessons, being called ‘idiots’ by teachers, children being excluded from certain lessons and so on and so forth. On top of that there were  the comments from people whose children used to attend the school and they were all telling me how difficult it had been for everybody.  It was only yesterday that one (French) mum came up to me to tell me how brave she found our decision to send our kids to a French school, how on earth would we cope? Her son currently attends the school and he actually needs booster lessons in French. I have to admit that this really made me feel uneasy.  When we first got to know about the school, I had a very very positive feeling about sending the kids there and  I have always tried to keep an upbeat attitude and to just focus on OUR children, who seem to be happy  and who get really encouraging and good reports. But the continuous bad press eventually got to me and I have to admit that I was very worried. Anyway, I saw Linus’ teacher and she was great. She praised his attitude, conduct and willingness to work in class and really her only concern was that Linus has been tired in school recently and was ‘hiding too much in his shell’, i.e. she was concerned that he might not be feeling comfortable in class and amongst his peers. She was happy to discuss options on how to address this and also had a chat with Linus later in the afternoon. I left the meeting feeling reassured and after a long chat with Linus tonight, I think we can manage to iron out all the minor problems we currently have with school. As Rolf highlighted, we could have much worse problems with a 14 year old. I guess he is right. He could take after his father and start spitting fire at school. When you next see Rolf feel free to ask him about this, but don’t mention your source of information :)…

Anyway, I am much happier tonight, albeit tired, it’s been a long day and I had to speak so much French (I had a French class this morning too) and that always takes its toll.

I have to think about how to manage the bad press in the future just to protect myself and keep my peace of mind. I suppose part of it is an awareness that if bad things happen, they are always passed round the school, while positive things are much less ‘exciting’ and worth spreading. I think I have to read some research on how gossip works… I suppose there is a certain appetite in some people to take gossip on board and send it through a personal prism that magnifies the really bad bits and then pass them on to other people to make them miserable and worried. Could this be? Gosh, it can be hard to maintain a sane state of mind. But I am working on it! Tomorrow evening I am trialling a Yoga class in town. It’s in English too, I am overjoyed. I know it’s bad for me, but I am sure I can relax better in an environment where I understand what the instructor says. Oh, and she is also fluent in German :).

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