Please introduce yourself and your role at ICS Côte d'Azur
I’m Gabrielle, and I have been at ICS Côte d’Azur for six years, and this year I am the PY5 French teacher and an FLE (français langue étrangère - French as a foreign language) teacher too. I alm also the school’s Eco Leader, spearheading the project to attain Green Flag status. Before coming to ICS Côte d’Azur I taught FLE in England, Estonia, the USA and China.
What do you feel makes our school a special place?
Without a doubt, it's the diversity of cultural backgrounds that every student brings to the school. It creates a real sense of openness and belonging; the atmosphere is enriched by what the students share. Differences are seen as a positive thing, and I can see that student’s viewpoints are less fixed.
For example, we read books or fairy tales from different countries, and often there is a student from that country in the class. Students share what they know - or what they think they know - about that country, and then they hear the perspective from someone familiar with it. They learn a lot through this kind of exchange, and it helps break down stereotypes and assumptions.
What do you like about the IB PYP, as both a class teacher and a FLE teacher?
I like that it encourages everybody to reflect on their work, including myself! Teachers have a tendency to want to tick off the curriculum and get through tasks. But the PYP has a different approach: it’s about engaging students, giving them choices, and guiding them to create connections with their learning. I have seen students make incredible progress based on this approach: one example would be last year’s PY6 class going to a regional MUN at the end of the year. They were incredible! To see them confidently speaking French, developing arguments, and working together was such a proud moment for the team.
I use the PYP approach in my FLE classes too. For instance, I won’t interrupt a student when they are expressing themselves in French, even if they make a mistake. This would be the ‘traditional’ approach to learning a language, especially in a French school. Instead, I let them finish, and then we reflect together on how else they could have said it. Participation is the most important thing, then confidence will follow, and then you can get down to the nitty gritty of grammar, vocabulary, sentence structure etc. We are not trying to mould ‘perfect’ students - this doesn’t exist - we want confident, happy, proud students who take ownership of their learning and feel successful.
Tell us more about your role as Eco Coordinator
This year our goal is to reach Green Flag status, and I am working with a great team of eco warriors in PY5 and PY6. Together, we are tackling all kinds of waste in the school, in particular food waste, but we are also looking at energy use too. One of our initiatives has been to weigh our food waste, and students were shocked to discover that they threw away 30,5kg of food in a week! So now they are taking notice of what they leave on their plate, and they are making a conscious effort to waste less. The next step will be for them to present their findings and draw conclusions to help the rest of the school.
Is there anything else you'd like to share with us?
I love sewing, and last year I launched a sewing initiative with the PY6 to raise money to buy materials for future projects. I hope to get it started again this year, and I would love to have it ready in time for the Winter Festival so that we can have an eco stall selling our goods to the school community.