TAPIF Problem: Too Much Time Between Classes

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Here’s the thing. While working as teaching assistants in France, we are allotted 12 hours of IN-CLASS work per week. However, that does not mean that we spend EXACTLY 12 hours per week at our respective educational establishment(s) and the rest at home. Non, non, non.

See, the thing is, most of the time assistants have a few gaps here and there between classes. Sometimes, you may have an hour break between a block schedule of classes. Other times, this break may last a few hours.

For example, last year my Monday schedule was as follows:

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And then my Thursday was:

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Note: These weren't all of my classes. Just, hmm.. six of them!

As you can see - on Monday afternoons I had two hour-long breaks and then on Thursdays I had a bigger 3-hour break (including lunch). The thing was, however, that my commute to the school from where I lived was about 45 minutes (bus + metro), so it never made sense to go all the way back home even for a larger break.

So what are assistants to do?

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he way I see it, you could either complain about it the entire time you’re here in France orrrrrr, you could use this time to craft yourself into a better and EVEN MORE awesome human being...

Hear me out and think about it...

If you were to spend those precious hours fixating on the fact that you’re wasting sooo much of your life and time just sitting around between classes, you’d have nothing (nothing!) to show for it after the fact.

How was your year teaching in France?! They’ll ask you eagerly.

It was okay....., you’ll reply blandly, I mostly just sat around waiting for my lessons to start. 

Womp, wommmmmp…

Stop. Go back.

Instead of spending those hours "woe is me"-ing about how much time is unfairly being taken from you, get productive about ways in which you could stop wasting your OWN TIME.

How was your year teaching in France?! They’ll eagerly ask you.

Oh, it was just amazing!, you’ll joyously reply, aside from only teaching, I also had time to get to know my rad colleagues, create and run my own blog, AND teach myself a third language!


hich one would you rather go home boasting about? 

Here are a few ways you can turn long “waiting” hours into “not-enough-time” to do and learn everything you're passionate about doing and learning: 

  • Catch up on your list of must-read novels.
  • Thoughtfully journal about your day-to-day French life that you’ll undoubtedly look back on nostalgically in a few years.
  • Chat with your colleagues. More often than not, they’re freakin’ cool! Ask about their lives + families + experiences. Chances are, they’re interested in you, too, so don’t be afraid of making that first move. *Pro-tip: bringing chocolates or little cakes (super cheap at grocery stores!) + a sweet lil note (s’ il vous plait aidez-moi avec ce petit probleme! - Alex, l’assistante d’anglais) will make you some French teacher friends reeeeeeal fast*
  • Sit in on other professors' classes. Learn Spanish or French Literature or History. Why not learn something new and throw in some extra French practice as an added bonus!
  • Do some online freelance work for extra pocket change.
  • Brainstorm potential trips and travels for upcoming vacations.
  • Check to see if an empty room is available for some peace and quiet, if needed.
  • Create some new content and material for your personal blog.
  • Learn a new language through self-study.
  • Eat lunch with the other teachers and take advantage of the extra French practice!

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n conclusion, folks, the long breaks between classes aren't meant to be a jab at your personal liberté. More often than not, it’s simply a result of using your presence and giving the gift of a native speaker to as many students as possible. 

ike any other real-world job, our schedules and responsibilities aren’t given to us for our own convenience - it’s really what’s best for the students we’re here to help out. 

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Thanks for reading, friends! 
’d love to hear about things that you’ve done to fill your time or what you’re most looking forward to spending your own extra hours doing! 

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