Teaching in Switzerland

Teaching in Switzerland

It was an excellent experience from which I learned a lot from cultural differences, how to live in a foreign country, and of course, I improved my French.  The weather in Valais, a southern state in Switzerland, is very similar.  Valais is an immensely beautiful valley nestled in a valley of the Swiss Alps, along the Rhone River.

I taught at a school called Lycée-Collège des Creusets, which is a school for the top 20% of the students in the area.  These students are planning to go to onto College (which is only about 17% of the population because the other students go to technical or business schools or participate in apprenticeship programs).  In both PHS and the LCC, many foreign languages are spoken, but at the LCC the most prevalent languages are French (the main language spoken in the area) and German, but it is common to hear Italian and Portuguese as well.  Switzerland has 4 national languages: German (about 70%), French (about 20%), Italian (about 5%) and Romansch (less than 1%).  There are a large number of immigrants from Europe, so other languages are heard as well.

The schedule between the two schools is different as well.  There is a 2 ½ hour break for lunch and the student day ends at 4:30.  The break in the middle of the day really helped to revitalize.  Also, the student & teacher schedules are not the same every day.  Generally classes meet 3 times a week for 45 minute periods, and there 7 periods a day (not including lunch) with a couple of extra optional periods.  That means that students had 10 -11 different classes every week & I had 8 instead of the usual 5.

One activity that I greatly appreciated at the LCC was, “journées sportives,” which roughly translates into sports days.  In the fall the whole school took coach buses up into the mountains & hiked 17km (10 miles) within 4-7 hours.  Some of the more hard-core athletes ran the 17 km or opted for the longer 24 km hike!  There were also 2 winter sport days where students could choose amongst down-hill skiing, cross-country skiing, hiking, sledding or snowboarding.  There was one final one at the end of the year where students could choose 2 activities, from beginning tennis, mountain climbing, learning how to skateboard, beach volleyball, etc.  However, there were no organized sports teams or clubs within the school.  If someone wants to play basketball on a team, he/she has to find an outside team & pay to be on the team.

I found my colleagues at the LCC to be very nice and welcoming.  Just like at Peekskill, everyone was very busy and had very full schedules, so we didn’t always have a lot of time to socialize.  But I did find that when we had the time, we took the time to get to know one another.

Lycée-Collège des Creusets website  http://www.creusets.net/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=36&Itemid=49