In this new edition of #HowWeGotThis, Anna-Gaëlle POISSON, primary teacher at LFSF on the Ashbury campus, tells us more about teaching her class during this extraordinary year, and about the various projects she and her students are working on, including the upcoming Ambassadeurs en Herbe (Budding Ambassadors) competition.
LFSF: Hi Anna-Gaëlle, for the readers who don’t yet know you, could you please tell us about you, your role at LFSF and a little about your background?
Anna-Gaëlle: I’m Anna-Gaëlle and I am an Elementary level teacher here at LFSF. I have been teaching Grade 5 students (CM2) at the Asbury campus for 8 years now. I come from the Paris region of France, where I used to work as a specialized educator in a boarding school. My husband and I moved to the U.S in 2003 and before working at LFSF, I was teaching in a French American school of the South Bay for 10 years.
(Anna-Gaëlle and one of her students during a drawing activity)
LFSF: The current Covid-19 crisis has been affecting many people, and after essential workers, teachers are on the frontline of this pandemic. Can you tell us how it has affected you as an Elementary level teacher, and how you’re adapting your teaching approach?
Anna-Gaëlle: The pandemic crisis has been affecting all of us on campus. Adults and students have to follow strict health protocols and have to comply with various restrictions (wear a mask at all times, wash hands frequently, social distance,...). I would say that most of the practical adaptations I’ve made to my teaching approach are the direct result of these restrictions. But I’ve also noticed that I’ve had to develop more patience and empathy towards my students, sensitive to the fact that they are already dealing with so much stress generated by the situation. I am more flexible and I take more time to have open conversations with them on various topics.
Grade 5 is a pivotal grade, because students are about to leave the Elementary school to move up to Middle school […] I’m really having some deep conversations with my students who I find to be very mature for their age […] They are very supportive and empathetic kids!
I’ve also incorporated more play-based activities in my pedagogical approach such as games and activities related to the themes we are learning about. As a result, the atmosphere in the classroom is very nice and relaxed, and I’ve gotten great feedback from parents who shared the fact their children are very happy to be back on campus.
LFSF: Could you tell us a little bit more about your students? How is the class doing this year?
Anna-Gaëlle: Grade 5 is a pivotal grade, because students are about to leave the Elementary school to move up to Middle school. It is very interesting to observe them grow into young teenagers. Naturally, they don’t all evolve at the same pace, and that’s totally normal, but it’s very interesting and rewarding as an educator to encourage them to grow. I’m really having some deep conversations with my students who I find to be very mature for their age. They also have a great sense of humor! I ruptured my Achilles tendon at the beginning of the school year, and as I was going through each healing stage (plaster, then splint), they would clapp and be super happy for me. They are very supportive and empathetic kids!
(5th Gr students on the Ashbury Campus)
LFSF: You are teaching some of the students who are currently participating in the international competition Ambassadeurs en Herbe, along with other North American Schools. Students are asked to think and debate on the theme “Equal and United Citizens" ("Citoyennes et citoyens, égaux et solidaires"). How did you provide support to your students in order to prepare them for this competition?
Anna-Gaëlle: During the previous years, the primary teachers used to prepare their students for this competition, through various exercises such as debating, reading and so on. This year, because the configuration of the classrooms is so very different, Elementary students prepared remotely with a group of Secondary level teachers who managed the Ambassadeur en Herbe project. My mission was to introduce the project to the classroom, explain the theme and the competition rules. I told them they could participate if they wanted to. Three of my students were interested and went to the practice meetings each week to enter the LFSF Finale. As a matter of fact, one of them was selected to participate in the North America Finale scheduled for next week!
(Anna-Gaëlle and Lucas, candidate at the Zone Finale of Budding Ambassadors, with matching shirts... and mask!)
LFSF: Are there other projects that your students are working on this year?
Anna-Gaëlle: I am currently developing a dance and music project in collaboration with Ludovic Pimenta, who is part of the administrative staff on our campus and who also has experience in teaching dance to children and with Aurélie, our Music teacher. Students are learning Choreography and how to do percussion to accompany the dance movements with music. They are so happy and involved! This year, they have quite long days, as they have class from 8:15 am to 3:30 pm and so this project is like a break in their daily routine, allowing them to exercise and express themselves differently.
LFSF: Thank you Anna-Gaëlle, for your time, is there anything you would like to add?
Anna-Gaëlle: I just wanted to say that I’m very proud of my students because they managed to adapt so well to the situation, and learned how to use new digital tools very easily. They have proven to be very resilient since the beginning of the pandemic, which is very impressive given their young age!
#HowWeGotThis is our series of testimonials showing how our teams and community are pioneering, reinventing themselves and imagine new ways to operate in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic.