Next week I'm giving my CM2s (fifth graders) their final English exam to place them in sixième next year. Actually, I think they take another placement exam when they start sixième, so this basically says.... nothing. Well, I guess it evaluates how well I taught them/how well they learned/general status of English education in the elementary schools.
The tests are standardized by the education department of the région, and I was so ecstatically happy when last week out of nowhere we were sent a totally new exam! Not the one that's been on the website all year! I've known all year long that there was no way I would be able to cover all of the stuff they were supposed to lean, so since March I've been making sure we cover all the stuff that would be on the exam... And then they changed the exam, and I had to scramble this week to cover things we haven't covered (like prepositions). I'm very concerned about how they are going to do on the exam. One of my teachers was very nice and told me that the results aren't going to reflect on me, but that region-wide people are going to have trouble with the different exam and that is what the results will show. I know that other English teachers are upset about this, but I just feel like yet again the fact that I'm a lousy teacher has been brought front and center.
No, I don't mean lousy teacher. I honestly think I did the best that I could in the given circumstances. I have no teaching experience or training and yet I was thrown into a situation where I had no resources and had to come up with an entire year's English curriculum and lesson plans on my own. It took a long time to get used to. Since mid-January I've hit one groove where teaching got easier, and even since March it was like a whole system of progressions and how to teach one thing or another magically appeared in my brain. That's one of the reasons I want to come back next year; to proove that I can do a better job. I also think that the French English program is a load of baloney and ridiculously ambitious. My kids take forever to learn anything and they remember very little of anything they did the year before. Everything has to be reviewed again and again every year to develop a real base of knowledge, and there's no room for that in the curriculum as it stands, which is about shoving new stuff at them contantly. I don't know who they think actually learns that quickly. Robot children maybe?
On the other hand, since March one of my CM2 classes has been really exciting and gratifying to be part of. This is at Nice Director School. We learned the conjugation of be and have, along with clothing, personal characteristics, adjectives, etc, and the kids are so excited to be able to make real sentences in English! Instead of using formulaic phrases like "where do you live/I live in," they get to say real things that mean something and can be produced spontaneously. Even the kids who struggle in English get excited about this. It was so cool on the bus going to Boulogne sur Mer when my kids all of a sudden started making up sentences in English for fun! I was so proud of them. It's really enjoyable to see them being so creative and smart. And the memory of that is something that I can take with me no matter what happens with renewal or the test results. I know that they can use English.