I am an English teaching assistant for the French equivalent of middle school. I teach students ages 11-16. The French do a few things differently than either middle school I attended did.
After recess, students line up outside by class, and the teacher goes to fetch them. Although I sort of remember this happening during elementary school, by middle school we were expected to find our way to our teachers’ classrooms all by ourselves.
Once the French students and the teacher have made it to their respective classroom, the students are expected to line up in pairs along the wall next to the door. As they enter the classroom, they say “Good morning/Good afternoon” to their teacher. Once inside, they go to their seats, take out their classroom materials, and then remain standing until the teacher says, “you may be seated.”
Again, this is a totally different experience than my own. When I was in middle school, we were expected to find our seats without greeting the teacher, and sit down as soon as possible. I only remember lining up outside of my classroom in 4th grade.
During my first days as a French English teaching assistant, I made the mistake of allowing the students to sit right away without giving them permission because I was unaware of the cultural differences in showing respect towards one’s teachers. Needless to say, the students were unruly monsters.
Although they continue to be horrible sometimes, I now follow the proper French protocol when receiving students. I think it has helped me some.