The stage itself was a two-day course designed to welcome us all to Reims, and to prepare us for our jobs of teaching English. We were staying in, and fed at, the Centre International de Séjour de Reims, courtesy of the Académie (the term given to the regional education authority). Our first day was given over largely to administration, meaning that we were treated to the delights of social security applications, lectures on the importance of obtaining multiple copies of any relevés d'identité bancaire, and given the opportunity to do lots of photocopying. For at least part of the afternoon, though, we got to split up into groups according to whichever language we were teaching, and proceeded to talk about good practice. Basically, it's very important for us to keep things ludique, so that students think of going to the assistant as a treat, rather than a chore; with that in mind, quite a lot of starter activities were thrown our way, including some rather amusing mortgage adverts from a few years back. Apparently, lycéens respond rather well to this kind of thing, so make of that what you will.
The second day of the stage was similar, although we also had a visit from the rather wonderful team over at TRAAM (TRAvaux Académiques Mutialisés de Reims). TRAAM has a linguistic arm, which records foreign language assistants and uses the sound clips in schools which didn't get an assistant; as such, a few of us spent a very enjoyable half-hour talking in English about ourselves, our hobbies, and (in my case) our propensity towards blowing things up in Chemistry lessons. That afternoon, we visited the Réctorat, where we were treated to a verre de l'amitié with M. le recteur. It wasn't all fun and champagne, though: he had several serious points to make. Aside from welcoming us very sincerely (hence the title of this post), he made the point that, in France, "nous avons une forte culture de l'écrit", and that we had to be ambassadors for the spoken word. On a less motivational note, he also commented that it was essential for us to "vous comporter comme des adultes, puisque quelques cas de l'année dernière ont terminé devant la justice". Ooh-er.
Anyway, now that's done I'm back in the lycée. My timetable's arrived, and it's looking like a fairly well-balanced affair, with classes in the morning five days a week and very little else. I'm contracted to work for twelve hours a week, so that should leave plenty of time for other activities. At the moment, I've got several things lined up, including getting involved in the local rowing club, registering in the library, and playing some badminton. As my sister said, it is pretty important to keep busy, even when you've got a stinking cold.
With that in mind, I'm off. I need to sign some more forms.
The open question for today is fairly obvious, actually ...