Friday, September 26, 2008

A black and white issue

The rooms I teach in are split 50:50 between blackboards and whiteboards, and I'm really not sure which I prefer. So here are some of the pros and cons, feel free to add any I haven't thought of:


White writing on a dark background is probably easier on the eye.
Chalks don't slowly run out; you don't end up with a bag full of chalks that work for five minutes if you store them vertically for long enough.
You can shut everyone up by dragging your nails down the board.

Dark clothes quickly lighten up (on the other hand, you can annoy goth students by making them write on the board)
Your hands get all chalky.
Chalk dust up the nose leads to dry, crusty bogies all day.


Clear, contrasting colours. I always use a different colour for phonetic transcriptions, for example.
You can use the board as an OHP or PowerPoint screen and write stuff on top (though check it isn't reflecting right back into the students' eyes)
The pens get you high (can anyone recommend a brand?)

The pens slowly run out.
Some kid will always get a pen of their own and write rude words on the board.
Said kid will always use a permanent marker so you have to sand blast the board before you can use it again.

So, as you can see, it's pretty even at the moment. Interactive whiteboards are fun until the computer freezes and you have to call out the IT bod for the fifth time that week....

So, any teachers want to add any more arguments either way?

Edit: Madame le Prof has reminded me that non-techie teachers have been known to ruin an interactive whiteboard by writing on it....

Friday, September 12, 2008

Divine intervention?

You may be aware that the Pope has taken up our twice-divorced President's invitation to visit the country. It was nice to see him shaking hands with the pregnant-out-of-wedlock Justice Minister and the openly gay Mayor of Paris.

Pity the big guy upstairs responded by sending floods and setting fire to the Channel Tunnel.

This is a serious test of my lack of faith.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

C'est la rentrée

Today I started my new job teaching Business English to first and second year university students. No classes yet, this was just meetings and telling students what to expect. I also got to see my office for the first time - I get my own room with desk, PC, filing cabinets and the previous occupant left and old portable CD player. Woo! Now all I need is a kettle and a chilled drinks cabinet.

Anyway, before you all go "you lucky b*st*rd, you're teaching motivated adults", a quick word about the French higher education system:

There are three types of institution you can go to:

1) The elite "Grands Écoles", which are very selective. You have to spend two years doing Classes Préparatoires aux Grandes Écoles before sitting a competitive exam to get in. If you pass, you get in, if not you can join the third year of a degree course.

2) The Institut universitaire de technologie or IUT. They are also selective and offer two-year professional courses. After the two years, students can do an extra year to "top up" their diploma to a degree.

3) If you can't get into either of the first two, there's always university. If you have a Bac, even if it's not in a related discipline, you can still get in; it's not selective but the drop out rate in the first year is so high that the end of year exams are effectively selection. It's very much the poor relation of HE.

Guess which one I work for....

Anyway, I can't really complain as although the students may not always be the the most bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, it's an improvement on surly teenagers and the holidays are even longer. And I shouldn't get things thrown at me.