Monday, October 13, 2008

Dado Becomes Certified . . . Maybe

Here is a saga that has been unfolding for us since August.

Most of you know that in the US, it is standard (even expected) for parents to “work” in their children’s classrooms. This means that parents volunteer their time to help in the class by working with the children, doing busy work for the teachers, and so on.

Well . . . as we should have known, it is very different here in France. A parent cannot help in the class without specific written permission from the school superintendent. Seriously.

In August, we visited the Directrice (principal) of the school to introduce ourselves, get all the important school information for the kids, and volunteer. Unfortunately, we used the phrase “work in the classroom”, which she interpreted literally (bien sur). We said something to the effect of: “We would like to volunteer to work in Max and Josey’s classes for the English portions of the class, since we speak English very, very well.”

I think what she heard was: “Blah blah blah work for money blah blah English blah blah.”

Next we knew, she said she would call the superintendent on our behalf to ask if this was possible. Several weeks later, we asked again. She said she was still waiting to hear from the superintendent.

Our friend Sandra wants her children to learn “American” English, so she started talking to the Directrice for us. Cool! The next thing we knew, Mike was suddenly getting enrolled in a certification class in Montpellier! How wild is that? Apparently, this one-day class was supposed to certify him to teach English in any French school.

Unfortunately, the French school system will not take us both. Since Mike speaks more French than I, he was picked to become certified. Like most French parents, I cannot even enter the school premises during school hours without specific permission. They literally lock all the doors. I’m bummed.

To put it mildly, Mike is less than thrilled to have to attend this certification class. He was expecting a one-day class taught in rapid-fire French that he wouldn’t be able to understand. Sound like fun?

We waited and waited to get information in the mail about the class. When it finally arrived, of course it was all in French. Mike read it as best he could and determined that it ended at 4:30pm – but no start time was provided. What’s up with that?

Of course we consulted Sandra. She took one look at the letter and said, “That is when the class starts.” Oh my! A class start time of 4:30pm? Mike was wiggin’ out! Montpellier is a very difficult place for driving - and parking! So, he wanted me and the kids to go with him, so we could drop him off at class – so he wouldn’t have to worry about parking. Well, what about me having to drive around Montpellier in the dark with the kids? I mean, really!?

The next day, we got a voice mail from the certification organization regarding the class. Of course the message was all in French. Let me tell you, it is much harder to understand French on the phone than it is to understand it when someone is standing in front of you! We had no idea what the message said. Sandra to the rescue!

Sandra said, “Mike, they want you to be there at 1:30, since you are an American.” Oh no . . . things were going from bad to worse.

Sandra called them for Mike to find out what was really necessary. Good news!! Since he’s an American, he only has to take a test to become certified. They told Sandra that he has to be there at 1:30 to take the test, and it should only take 15 minutes. Awesome. Sandra is even going to go with him to translate. With the GPS to guide them, and Sandra to translate, this should be easy, right?

Keep posted to hear if it really goes that smoothly. In our experience, there is something we still don’t know – like Mike will have to take the test then go back at 4:30 for the class. Yikes!

Love to all!

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