At my school, respect is highly expected The rules are stricter than at my elementary school in the U.S. You must be on time in the morning. You must show a late slip even if you are a few minutes late to class. You are not allowed to talk out of turn and must wait to be called on. You must raise your hand (actually one finger) if you want to speak. If any adult, the principal or a cafeteria worker, walks into the room, you must stand up until you are told to sit down. Never say the word “oui” with the slang pronunciation of “way,” which is like saying “yeah” instead of “yes.” The teachers look down on that word. You may not raise your hand during class and ask to go to the bathroom. The bathrooms are locked during classes, and you must wait for one of the four or five recesses. Parents have to sign all tests and communication from teachers. The teachers reprimand the kids who misbehave, even the ones who daydream in class. If you forget your lunch card, the one that gets you into the lunch room, you have to eat last, with the very last group of kids.
Don’t get the wrong idea. It’s a wonderful school, and I love the experience I’m having there. The teachers are very helpful when I don’t understand something. The students are quieter than in the U.S., but they aren’t as quiet as mice. In some ways, the teachers are not as strict as they are back home. You don’t get sent to the principal’s office for everything (not that I ever have). Today, someone in my class took someone else’s finger and put it through a hand-held (not electric and not grinding) pencil sharpener. The kid’s finger was bleeding and needed a band-aid, and the teacher had to write a note to the parents. She talked to “the sharpener” (that’s what she called him, as opposed to one she called “the sharpened”) in front of the class and asked why he had done it. Other people said it was because the pencil sharpener supposedly didn’t work. She said, “Do you think that was a good idea?” I was astonished that he wasn’t getting sent out of the class!