I’m not sure who coined that expression but if I wasn’t a Core French teacher, it would bring to mind the image of a quaint dessert trolley featuring a variety of artfully baked pastries. Funnily enough, when I typed in that subject heading to get some different ideas of carts on the market, that is exactly what came up. The one model I did find came duly equipped with many different coloured bins, whiteboard, sturdy triangular construction (and relaxed smiling model to boot). However, I couldn’t help noticing some design deficiencies. There was no built-in loudspeaker system blaring the message “Écartez-vous! Laissez passer le prof de Français!!” accompanied with flashing lights and a siren. Nor did they have an activated alarm for when someone tries to pilfer one dictionary or pencil too many. Finally, the lack of GPS tracking device for lost overheads and CDs is clearly an oversight in this day and age of technological wizardry.

A few years ago, I did see someone who seemed to master the teaching from a cart phenomenon and regretfully I didn’t take photos (the days before an Iphone). What made it work for her was the following:

  • a variety of different sized bins and boxes that were all clearly labelled with the corresponding word(s) and images
  • practical supplies which included textbooks, some dictionaries, pencils, pens, pencil crayons, overhead markers, scissors, tape, magnetic strips, stapler, etc (you get the picture)
  • hanging file folder box to store extra worksheets and assignments
  •  cds, camera
  • visually decorated with French/Quebec flags and postcards so that it was a large-scale rolling tourist brochure
  • a horn

Finally, a few suggestions for teaching on the run which I have gleaned so far from my own experience. Truthfully, they would work a whole lot better if I had the wherewithal to implement them consistently after my dash across the school and up two flights of stairs in 1 min and 30 seconds (that’s if I’m running on time).

  • If you’re not supremely organized, enlist the help of a professional organizational consultant to get you on track. No matter how organized you think you are, you’re not organized enough.
  • Get into the habit of putting things down only in specific places.
  • Have a physical checklist of important items that you actually check before leaving the room.
  • Colour code things in bright colours for different classes (class lists, folders, etc) so they can easily be spotted.
  • Ensure your lesson includes some down time for you to get organized at the beginning and end of the period (structured student-run games, conversation starters, short audio recordings).
  • Have responsible students take inventory of borrowed items such as textbooks and school supplies.

If anyone else has any other ideas that work for them, please share them. Thanks to Michelle, Kate and Sylvia who responded to my last post with their thoughtful commentary. This is obviously a justifiably sensitive subject. Hang in there all of you!


One thought on “French a la carte

  1. Funny that I found you here. My first year “à la carte”. Everything u say resonates with me. I leave stuff everywhere. I am constantly looking for things. I run back and forth every day. Overall, I’m very unhappy. How long have u been teaching this way? Where r u teaching now?
    Looking forward to catching up.

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