2012 was the year I decided to leave France after a degree in Foreign Languages at Lille Catholic University and I did not know at that time that it would be the best decision of my life. I worked for two-years as a French and Spanish Assistant at a school in a little village called Sturry before meeting Miss Dalliere, now Mrs Stafford, at a Zumba class in Canterbury. What are the odds of meeting the Head of French from Dover College at a Zumba class?! After a quick chat, she advised me to apply for a position at her school but I was not meant to stay in England, this is not what I had planned! However, that little chat made me re-think my plans and I am so glad that I did dare to think differently. This is what I keep telling my students: Yes it is good to have plans, but it is also very important to have connections; connections that could potentially lead you down a different path from your original plan. Here at Dover College we have connections and not only because we are an international school but mainly because we are not just a school; we are a community. We are not just teachers who go to work with students who just go to school. We are a caring school, where we look after one another and I, myself, have met some amazing people who have allowed me to become the person I am today.
Being an Assistant was good but I wanted to secure my future in England, as I knew at that point I would not finish my studies in France. Therefore, I needed more. In 2015, after a year at Dover College and at the beginning of my fourth year in England, I knew that I wanted to become a teacher. I decided to embark on a teacher training course and completed my PGCE. It was a busy year and perhaps one of the most challenging for me, studying in a foreign country, having to write assignments in English when my level was far from being perfect (I will talk about this at a later point!) and still having to teach and do duties at the same time. But… I did it!! I owe it to the support of some amazing human beings: Madame Taylor, Mrs Stafford and of course, Mr Payne.
For those who do not know me, I teach French and Spanish across the Junior and Senior school. I am also the Deputy Housemistress of Duckworth House and I help and support some of our French students with the CNED programme; which is allowing them to study core subjects from the French curriculum as well as studying the English curriculum.
My day at work is quite long but it is varied, with duties in the House and teaching lessons to pupils in Years 3, 4 and in the Sixth Form. It is very intense and yes I might get tired from time to time but I love my job because it is so rewarding to see pupils make progress and flourish, and this is the type of life I have decided to live.
I am passionate about my roles (academic and pastoral) and always give one hundred percent with everything I do. As a French National who has now lived in the UK and taught French and Spanish for almost seven years, I have been able to put myself into our students’ shoes and fully understand what kind of pastoral care and support with their studies they need in order to become well-rounded individuals. I have a very strong team spirit and I like my House to be the best it can be and if you have not noticed it yet, I am very competitive!
Remember when I said my level of English was not quite perfect yet? Well, this is what I use to motivate my students who are learning French or Spanish. I don’t need them to be perfect and I don’t want them to be scared to make mistakes. One of my favourite quotes is one that is displayed in almost every single classroom in the Junior School: “Mistakes are proof that you are trying”.
Part of my job is also to help my students to develop their skills and their confidence and therefore this year, again, we are taking part in a French Exchange Programme with the College Louis Philippe (Eu, Normandy). Little did I know how challenging this was going to be but I do love a challenge! Our French Exchange students arrived on Thursday 24th January, the same day as the Year 11 Parents’ Evening (a very busy day!) and will leave us on today, Monday 28th January. I am so proud of all of my students putting effort into making sure their pen pal is felt at ease during their stay and I am really thankful for all of the parents who also took part in this challenge! Parlez-vous français de temps en temps?
Finally, to bring me back to the beginning of my journey when I said leaving France was the best decision of my life, little did I know that I was going to meet my other half and next year my name will change from Miss Marié to Mrs Payne or… Mrs Marié-Payne (still being debated!). Definitely the best decision of my life!