BY NICOLA HEIDEBRECHT, SECONDARY FRENCH TEACHER
I am known to most students as “Madame H.” I’ve been the French teacher at ACS Secondary since September 2017. It’s somewhat ironic that this past fall, I was asked to submit a story for the January blog. At the time, I had no idea life would take a huge turn that would result in not returning to ACS in February 2019.
As I have had the opportunity to reflect on the past year and a half, I have realized just how incredibly thankful I am for the people I have met, the experiences I have had, and the impact it has had on me.
Below are four of my favourite memories of ACS that I will treasure and smile at for a long time to come.
One of my favourite games to play in class is “rouge-vert.” I made it up on the spot one day when I was doing my practicum a couple years ago. It was basically a tweaked version of this random game my grade 7 math teacher taught us.
It is now one of the most competitive events that takes place in my classroom. It combines numbers, colours, and multiplication tables – all in the target language. This past semester, I had a student challenge me to a round of “rouge-vert.” Normally, this counting game will get up into the 60s or 70s. For this challenge, however, I was going to have to practice. Unfortunately, I have now been beaten three times at my own game. On a positive note, I now can tell you any number below 854 that is a multiple of seven.
Before coming to ACS, I had never seen a group of people get so excited over free food and snacks. Snack Wednesday is a tradition with the Secondary staff. Not only does this event bring excitement, it also brings out some border-line selfishness too. We don’t stand in line. We don’t make sure everybody has been served before we go for seconds. We just take as much as we want of whatever we want. You better get it before it’s gone!
On the flip side, though, Snack Wednesday brings the staff together as a community. Everyone takes their turn to bring it and despite the madness of it all, it really is a cool time to just be with each other as a staff. I’ve truly seen how much everyone cares for one another.
Greeting in the Halls
This is one of those “Yay” teacher moments. When students who aren’t even in French class say, “Bonjour” or “Hola” to me in the hallway instead of, “Hello,” it literally makes my heart jump out of my body.
A group of grade 9/10 girls who eat lunch in the hallway will call out,“Bonjour” to me every time they see me, no matter what. It doesn’t matter how far away I am or if it’s the tenth time I’ve walked by them in the last five minutes. It warms my heart.
They’ve taken up my challenges for the gals who are in French class to teach random phrases to the ones who aren’t in French class. This has brought some great laughs. And this is what I want language study to be. Whether you’re in my class or not, language is something that can bring us together and make us laugh.
A Tes Souhaits! (bless you!)
I will forever panic anytime I hear someone sneeze. I anticipate 25 voices yelling out, “A tes souhaits” (bless you) at the same time and then proceeding to call out that they got it first.
Sneeze. Bless you. Yelling. Stickers. It’s funny how such a small thing can build crazy community.
My apologies to the other staff and to any French students’ parents who now have to hear, “A tes souhaits” any time someone sneezes in their midst. My hope is that one day, when my students are 30 years old, that even the ones who never spoke another word of French in their entire life after my class, will think to themselves, “A tes souhaits” when they hear someone sneeze.
And hopefully it will bring a smile to their face when they remember French class.