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LFC Staff Spotlight: English Welcoming, French as a Second Language & Vie Scolaire

Four teachers, three women and one man, smiling at the camera. Two are holding signs and one is speaking into a microphone.

Our series, LFC Staff Spotlight, features our dedicated and hardworking staff. This week, we highlight the faculty who support our new bilingual language learners in elementary and our secondary school guidance team. Read on for an update from French as a Second Language Teacher Nathalie Meyfren-Rado, English Welcoming Class Teacher Kendry Murray and Middle School Student Achievement Advisor Tangi Le Bigot.

Spotlighting Nathalie Meyfren-Rado, FSL Teacher

Nathalie Meyfren-Rado is one of our two French as a Second Language Teachers, along with Christelle Chauvet. Christelle teaches FSL from 1st to 5th grade. Nathalie teaches FSL from Jr-K to Kindergarten. Together, they are also in charge of some Language Workshop groups at the Elementary levels.

Tell us what your work looks like in this new distance learning period.
There was certainly an adjustment period to distance learning, discovering new digital tools and rethinking my teaching, with some unexpected challenges. I will not soon forget the moment when I looked at the educational games in my classroom, knowing that they would now be unusable! I then worked to set up lessons adapted to distance education that could best maintain the curiosity of my maternelle students.

Zoom has a theatrical effect. Once the teacher clicks the "admit participants" button, the curtain opens and the students and I appear. There is always surprise and joy to see everyone together. In this time of uncertainty, maintaining a comforting atmosphere is very important to me. The students are great and it is always a pleasure to interact with them.  

Tell us how you are staying engaged during these difficult times.     
I am very busy with work but my son, who loves sports, encourages me to do fitness with him. To motivate me, he prepares training sessions just for me that correspond to my level. I can't refuse! I'm doing abs and push-ups! He once told me, "Don't stop when you want to, but when you can't do anymore." I try to follow his advice, but I can't do it all the time. For the quiet moments, we play board games as a family. 

Spotlighting Kendra Murray, English Welcoming Class Teacher

Kendra Murray is one of our two English Welcoming Class Teachers, along with Jessica Coyne. Together, they teach English as a Second Language to new English speakers who join the Lycée between 1st and 5th grades.

Tell us what your work looks like in this new distance learning period.
Teaching a second language via a screen feels vastly different! I desperately miss the magic of teaching my students in the classroom. This was a huge shift for me, I have to admit. At first, I felt so two-dimensional, so flat, as I couldn’t as easily incorporate tactile elements, surprises and humor. I temporarily lost my “teacher voice”! 

We hit the ground running with online school, so this experience has forced me to very quickly implement more technology into my curriculum. Like many, I am using SeeSaw, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that the recording function has been wonderful for my students’ speaking skills. They can now easily record and re-record themselves saying isolated vocabulary words or longer answers to questions. This, by default, makes them THINK and practice until they get it right, and I love the power of self-driven rehearsal! It also allows me, on the other side, to really focus on each individual child’s recordings without distraction. I will definitely be incorporate some of what we are doing now into my curriculum when we get back to our beautiful building.

Do you have a funny anecdote about your job and/or your interaction with students?
I’m relieved to notice that, more and more, my students and I are able to show our personalities in the Zoom calls and with our online work. I have definitely found my voice again, and more importantly, my students have found theirs. I’m delighted to see their unique characters come out in their writing and in our discussions. Every Friday, with my beginner students, I do a sort of structured discussion resembling the classic Show and Tell. The idea is to get the kids speaking, but the bonus is that we are really learning a lot about one another in a way that we might not in the classroom. One week, we brought photos of people we love and miss - I got to hear about friends, grandparents, cousins and Godparents who are across the was a bit emotional because every child could relate - they are all far from their first homes. These days can be joyous, too. One Friday, when we were studying the senses, the assignment was to bring an object that they like to taste, hear, touch or see.  One of my students surprised us all by “bringing” his baby brother!  It was such a sweet gesture of pure love - we all felt it. I will have a collection of little unexpected, unforgettable moments of human connection like this from this strange chapter.

Tell us how you are staying engaged during these difficult times. Have you picked up any new hobbies?
Well, my family took the plunge and got a quarantine puppy, so that’s one big thing! I think what’s interesting about hobbies now is that I do activities for the sheer need - not because I think I should do them for self-improvement. Last year, I took an amazing ink drawing class at Lill Street, so I’ve been ink sketching to let my mind unravel when I’m stressed from the news.  (I’ve done about 15 mediocre drawings of the same alley and rooftops behind my house - go figure.) I dusted off my old violin, too, and I’ve been trying to learn a piece by Bach, digging into the nuances of it, enjoying the limits of focusing over and over again on just one piece of music.  And, as always, I read...fiction, for escape. I don’t have much extra time, less than before, actually, but I do manage to plug these things in, just to keep balanced. Books, art and music - they are always there for us, and they have never been more important. 

Spotlighting Tangi Le Bigot, Middle School Achievement Advisor

Tangi Le Bigot is the Middle School Student Achievement Advisor. He is a member of the Vie Scolaire team in secondary school. Together with Virginie Saint-Omer, Pascal Bedrossian, Doug Geiger, Joseph Feinberg and Marjolaine Bonamy (lab technician turned homework helper), he helps guide, support and discipline students.

Tell us what your work looks like in this new distance learning period.
My work during this period of distance learning is broadly divided into three parts. Most of my time is dedicated to middle school students who need individualized help, either for:

  • support in a specific subject 

  • help to get organized and find effective strategies to avoid falling behind and to turn in work correctly

Another part of my time is devoted, as before, to setting up projects for middle school students in collaboration with the middle school team (homework help, virtual cafés, journal, La Sphère...). We try to respond as quickly as possible to the needs that arise as the weeks go by. Finally, I attend various meetings (e-learning planning, SSD, delegate councils...). 

The big difference from the pre-quarantine period is that the individualized student support has taken up a lot more space. I really appreciate these individual Zoom times because they are useful and also because it's nice to be in contact with the students (this is globally what colleagues miss the most). I also appreciate the fact that it is very varied, because in addition to helping students organize their work (I do mathematics, French, SVT, technology…), I also have discovered US Math, which is very interesting. 

This period of e-learning forces us to be very creative; it is not always easy to explain a concept when we are not in the same room!

Have you picked up any new hobbies? 
We bought a small ping pong table to put in our living room during the first week of confinement. We don't regret it. The whole family is learning! 

Do you have a funny anecdote about your job and/or your interaction with students?
I often do four or five Zoom sessions in the afternoon and sometimes I feel like a dentist who takes turns receiving his patients (who, by the way, are waiting in the Zoom waiting room!).