First Month Routine

Gabrielle Guichard

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Each year, at the very beginning of the first term, when I gave back the first essay, there was a pupil (at least one, often several) who asked me: “Madame, where is mine?" and promised: “Yes Madame, I let it on your desk last week. " Some were more cautious and prefered to explain: “I had forgotten it so I put it in your mail box in the teachers’ room, later".

The first time it happened, once back at home, I turned our whole flat upside down to find the lacking sheet of paper, blaming Pierre for having rummaged about in my drawers (I was sure I had not lost this heck of an essay). Of course, I never found it, but I became a less gullible teacher.

The second time lazy pupils tried this kind of cheating, I replied that I was terribly sorry, wore my kindest smile and invited the victims of my absent-mindedness to come to the blackboard to present their work on the fly. There were a lot of: “I did not learn it by heart" and of: “But I had made some schemata". Though I would have been happy to see which schema could correct a dictation, I kept my sorry-smiling face. “Oh really? That is even better! You are sure to remember the whole thing very easily", I said.

The pupils who had done their homework had already received the corrections. They tried to help their classmates and whispered the answers in my back. Let's say: they thought they whispered and, anyway, teachers know when to be deaf. So, they revised the lesson voluntarily, what you cannot obtain when you ask for. Sometimes, a pupil happened to earn better marks than those he could have got with an essay or any other written job.

Within the first month, the number of essays I was supposed to have lost decreased magically. Most times there remained enough for me to send a pupil to the blackboard to handle the revisions of some tricky issues.

Gabrielle Guichard
is a French teacher who can be listened to on .


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