Le Prof Francaise

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Apr 03 2011

Subject Assignments (like life generally) don’t always go as planned

I’ve accepted the fact that I won’t be teaching English like I had envisioned. Since high school, I’ve had the desire to bring things like Shakespeare, haikus, and writing composition to my classroom. Years ago, I wrote lesson plans (albeit amateur ones), I made a list of novels that I wanted to teach to my class, I wrote journal prompts–ok, you get the point.  I did a lot of stuff to prepare for the position I was sure that I would be granted, including majoring in English Language and Literature. Much of my volunteer work centered around reading and writing, including when I taught creative writing in a men’s prison.  I conducted research with a professor in undergrad about Romanticism in past and present literature. Short of publishing a novel, I couldn’t have screamed “I wanna teach English!” any louder on my application.  I’m not listing my accomplishments to brag, but to show that I freaking love English–so much so that I’m going to permanently ink my body to attest to the fact.  Yep,  my next two tattoos will be quotes from famous writers.

So with all of that being said, I felt both surprised and disappointed when I was assigned to teach French.  I also wondered what the heck TFA was thinking.  I’m fluent but very out of practice, and since I had tested out of the language requirement in college, it’s not like I had any French credits to show that I was ready to put on a beret and go teach kids some good ol’ francais.  I still love the language, and the French motif going on in my apartment is nothing short of nauseating to any non-francophile.  However, this was not the plan.  I wanted to be a Freedom Writers/Dangerous Minds/Dead Poet’s Society type of English teacher.

I know I shouldn’t kvetch about this.  Getting into TFA is a really big deal, and I can (and plan to) change students’ lives no matter what I teach.  And, although it took a few weeks, I became really excited to be a foreign language teacher.  But deep down, I still want to instill a love of prose to my class.  After TFA, who knows?  Maybe I’ll get to do it then :)

5 Responses

  1. Amanda

    Salut! First off, congrats on being accepted into TFA – definitely not an easy feat. I am a 2009 corps member finishing up my second year of teaching French in Nashville. I was originally assigned to teach Gov’t/Econ, and then I was told the take the Middle School praxis. After still not getting bites on the job-front, I mentioned I had taken the French praxis as my senior exit exam and voila! I had a job.

    I’m sorry you didn’t get placed into English (although don’t count yourself out – things may change!). Teaching French can be a hard and lonely road sometimes so if you want any help/advice from the only TFA French teacher in TN, please feel free to contact me.

    Bonne chance, ma cherie!

  2. G

    You may still end up teaching English…or some other subject. TFA assignments (and teaching assignments in general) are not set in stone…so you never know!

  3. jlange

    I totally understand what you mean. I thought I would be a high school English teacher; I’ve worked for two different Upward Bound programs tutoring 10th-12th graders for the last three years. I’m an English/History double major. But…I’m going to be an elementary teacher. It’s taken some, uh, adjustments, but I think it’s going to be a great journey either way.

    Best of luck and you should totally post pictures of those tattoos! ;-)

  4. Ashley

    For part of your culture component of class, include French literature! You can still teach them aspects of an English class: do haiku in French, do plays in French, write essays about France, etc. I know it isn’t ideal, but you will have a way to combine the two!

  5. Unfortunately, I think the number of incoming CMs qualified to teach English (coming from another B.A. in English…) versus foreign languages, especially French, necessitates this. There’s some pretty legit French literature out there to work with too (or so I hear ;])!

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A day in the life of a French teacher in Detroit

High School
Foreign Language

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