In the order of children's age and evolution:
- kindergarten (maternelle: kids from 2 to 6): instituteur/institutrice or maître/maîtresse
- elementary school (école élémentaire: from 6 to 11): instituteur/institutrice or maître/maîtresse des écoles
- highschool (collège from 11 to 14 - lycée from 15 to 18): professeur (feminisation of the noun is rare and is "professeure")
- university (université, faculté, grandes écoles): professeur ("de fac")
Now when it comes to address them with their title, small children say "maître" or "maîtresse", all others say "monsieur" or "madame".
As far as I know, only top medical professors are called "professeur".
It seems as though there is a movement to use professeur d'école for primary school, but I imagine that many people still use instituteur/institutrice, just as the children still say maître/maîtresse. So, enseignant/enseignante is used as a general term and by teachers about themselves and éducateur/éducatrise is a formal term used with other words to indicate specialties, such as early childhood, or special education.
I love that in France children go to collège when our children are in junior high school, while in California our children go to college after high school (lycée). Of course, you can go straight to university from high school. It is less expensive to do two years at a junior college and then do the last two years at university, instead of four years at the university. It is important to take the right classes that will be transferable though. Some people get a one year or two year certificate from the junior college and go straight to work. I have a brother who went to the university for four years, but for what he wanted to do, he had to go to the junior college to get a specialty certificate.
The other odd thing from California to France is that preschool is your maternelle, and kindergarten is our first year of primary school where you won't find any two or three year olds and only four year olds about to turn five. They are even changing the starting age cut off to September. So, four year olds will have to wait until the following year. They learn to read and write in Kindergarten and have an essay test at the end of the year now. They put the 1st grade curriculum down a year, and all the grades had to move down one to accommodate, but I think you still call Kindergarten as "maternelle" even though it is so different from preschool?
You have always given us so much help. Thank you!
There are 6 possible translations for "you are a teacher" if you get the English sentence first of course (it is not the case here apparently)
tu es enseignant (masculine)
tu es enseignante (feminine)
vous êtes enseignant (masculine singular, with polite, singular "vous")
vous êtes enseignante (feminine singular, with polite, singular "vous")
vous êtes enseignants (masculine plural)
vous êtes enseignantes (feminine plural)