Rule 2 of the Classroom Rules has been getting a lot of attention, but Rule 1 is of equal importance: Listen with the Intent to Understand. Such an obvious behavior is rarely done by students in schools. They listen with the intent to get a grade. If your students think that school is a game built around testing, then they must be constantly reminded by the adult in the room to try to learn what this rule means. In fact, the Communication Rubric with the child in the first six weeks of school is a requirement. When we enforce it, enormous stress is created in students who are used to memorizing for the grade. This reaction shows up usually in 7th grade and gets worse in 8th grade and gradually fades over the high school years when the kids don’t care anymore – the window to building quality human interaction during class with their teachers has already been closed. The result of our failure, by our not enforcing the Classroom Rules to quell the braggadocio of the kids who enjoy white privilege, has the predictable result that those kids have taken over the classrooms since American classrooms are microcosms of American society in general and the teachers, not just traditional teachers but even CI teachers, and I am thinking of many TPRS teachers here as well, have missed a golden opportunity tor implement a non-racist program in their classrooms (CI and CI alone has that potential among all forms of foreign language education options). Such kids in middle school have simply been trained – by us – that interacting with their teacher is a slightly unpleasant option. This makes it really bad for making CI work because it needs a willingness on both sides to make human conversation work. The kids who who learned in elementary school that they can use white privilege to control the social interactions in the classroom then take over their middle school classes. The teacher, too weak to stop that tendency to make the classroom all about what the white kids in it want to do and say, allows, perpetuates and even encourages exclusion because many CI teachers don’t have the courage to stop rude white kids from blurting out in their CI classes. Those kids, the future Trumps, have learned to get through school with easy grades simply by providing the information back to us in the form of a test. This is a travesty of education. In this sense, our CI classes may be the most important classes a child ever takes in school, to teach them tolerance for others and respect for adults. Rule 1 leads the way in telling them how to do it. Children cannot even function in the world without people skills and yet few if any classes that they take require them to do so. Any CI class, if it is going to work, requires participatory and reciprocal back and forth behavior so that the national standard of Communication can happen in our classroom. So why not make it our highest priority to aggressively enforce Rules 1 and 2 during class and via the rubrics? Why not enforce the Classroom Rules? We are almost committing a form of professional malpractice when we let our kids get away with tuning out or tuning into their screens or friends during class.
Perhaps the very concept of building a learning community, so vital to everything we do in our classrooms, has eluded us. It’s like Robert said in his recent comment here on rigor – perhaps we should define the term first.
To me, community in my classroom is the place where I find validation of myself while enjoying sharing the beautiful French language with my students through their help and society. When this happens, my students are automatically validated, and their being in my classroom takes on an entirely different tenor than in many of their other classes.
Once I was teaching a class when there was some construction work going on in the building. The workers needed to be in a certain corner/cubby part of my room. More and more workers started coming and coming and going. A few admins appeared here and there.
The students I teaching at that time was one of those groups of kids we occasionally in which there are no bright lights, just dull kids, nothing to provide any spark to the class. We’ve all had such classes.
The kids weren’t the wrong kids – they just didn’t have any bright lights in them. So as the construction work increased, so did the feeling that I was losing control of my classroom.
If it is true that language instruction in the U.S. is broken – across the board in general – then let’s not pretend (just because teachers are trying to make the research around comprehensible input work) that it’s working.
My guess is that most language teachers are still mostly teaching using a 50 year old model – yes, still – but are hitching it to what they know about CI. I maintain that that cannot possible be done, and yet most “CI” teachers are doing that.
Your posts give me strength and make me stand taller. Solving the problems in our schools can only be done when we believe in ourselves. On your forum, you talk about our real individual problems, not to be solved but because they need to be seen. It’s about being seen, about being heard. This understanding is what makes your posts unique and encouraging. It’s hard to be in the mess of it, but it’s good to know we are not alone. I have less pressure on myself than I’ve had ever in my career. I teach each class less than 80 min a week. 14 classes, 8 grades. Your share of Dr. Bourne’s list of teachers rights must be read daily, until you believe it. Until you live it.
The floorboards of our classrooms are rotting. How long have we waited for the final cave-in of each one!
All of us will be dropped, all akimbo, each at the right moment for us, into the waiting underground lake of fluency. There, we will meet each other again in collegiality and joy. It is happening now. Schools are literally falling apart.
This lake consists of the waters of intuition, not obsession with teaching near the book, or correctly, or to impress people, or from lists, all unfortunate intellectualized interpretations of what Blaine intended. The method is intuitive, and there is no right way to communicate with our students in our classrooms.
Invisibles tableaux and stories can help heal. We just enjoyed a cool, uplifting story from Craig in a post here a few days ago. This drawing, from one of Craig’s classes today, needs no discussion or explanation. In his email to me, Craig chose to not explain anything. He knew he didn’t need to. That’s because we in this group who really grasp the power of comprehensible input GET IT. We don’t NEED to ask if the kids were engaged. We don’t NEED to ask if Craig’s artist in that period was proud. We don’t NEED to ask if the kids’ mental health was improved in that class today, as opposed to being beaten down by the same-old-same-old language instruction of the past century. I just wish I could have been in that class:
It generally feels like we’re failing at our careers but it’s not us; it’s the system around us. We’re doing a pretty good job actually, putting in as we are an entirely new pedagogy to replace one that has failed, and in that failure I include not just the grammar/translation approach but also TPRS.
If there’s anything that I could have back from my 40-year career it would be that one thing of taking my job too seriously and trying to teach kids who were literally unteachable. That’s the one thing I would change.
(I had a copy of this taped to my desk for 30 years. It helped me keep my sanity and know how to respond to bad leaders and other negative and controlling voices in my buildings:)
There is a kind of energy in our buildings that carries or implies that we in fact don’t have basic rights as teachers. Maybe it’s about pecking orders. Whatever, it’s insidious and we need to be able to recognize it and fight it, in order to protect our mental health.
One day about 30 years ago during another of what seemed to be an unending series of planning periods where I usually just sat at my desk making up worksheets, I found a piece of paper stuck behind a pile of old books in the back of a closet in my classroom. It was a faded copy of a “personal bill of rights” written by Edmund Bourne, Ph.D.
Why should we transmit mere information to our students when we can transmit so much more: interest, meaning, fun, confidence? Maybe we could even transmit to them a reason to believe in themselves. Why teach merely to their minds?
Why not teach to the whole child, to their bodies and hearts as well? Maybe, if more of our kids’ teachers did that, we wouldn’t have so many shootings.
The problem is that most classes, except for art and music and classes and like that, don’t even do that. They don’t even try. Most teachers don’t even attempt to transmit anything fun. So many classes are robotic and formulaic experiences for the kids. In some schools, kids hate art.
I’m on a roll with the prayers:
Dear God –
Please help us understand that teaching is not a competition, and that whether or not our students achieve high test scores does not reflect on our value and our worth as teachers.
Help us keep in mind that, seen through your eyes (the only eyes that count), our real value has little to do with what we achieve as teachers, but rather lies firmly in our just being there with our students in a loving way no matter what we achieve together.
We ask you, the Eternal Jokester, this question – who’s kidding whom, right? The joke being that we can’t teach our students a language because of the massive amount of time required compared to the amount of actual classroom time we have. Help us always remember that we can’t even scratch the surface toward fluency.
Sunday nights after dinner during the school year used to be emotionally very difficult for me. I made this prayer to God one time and it helped. I reprint it here periodically:
Your teachers down here are hurting. We know you know that. We just need to say it.
It seems like something has happened in education in general and we definitely know that something is happening in our field of foreign language education and we’re scared.
We’re excited, but we’re scared.
We’re not just scared. We’re tired. It just seems like there is lots of darkness in our school buildings. Not physical darkness. Your sun shines on every day in our students eyes, giving us hope like it always has. Of course that is true.
It’s some other kind of building darkness. It’s kind of a darkness based in fear. Some of us are afraid in our classrooms when we go in to teach – some kid, or two of them, or a self-absorbed administrator, might say or do something that hurts us, that hurts others, that derails our work, that makes us crazy.
Many of us became language teachers because, ironically, we saw it as a profession in which we could enjoy ourselves and provide for our families. Is not language beautiful? How can anything you made not be beautiful?
Languages are so beautiful, and you made up so many of them, all of them like beads on the string of a glorious and shiny necklace that you made as a special gift for us when you made the world to keep things interesting, just like you made all of us different for the same reason. Languages are some of your best work! I’m a big admirer!
Of course languages are beautiful. But, back to the point of this conversation with you, teaching some of those kids is not beautiful. This new way is hard and confusing and kind of scary, to tell the truth.
Comprehensible input has been a pain. It’s been a kind of wild game of tug-of-war between us and our kids and between us and our colleagues and the kids’ parents and a whole bunch of people who very frustratingly to us don’t know what we know.
It’s really been more than a game. It’s been kind of like a war, not like a game of tug-of-war. How a game of tug-of-war could become a war inside a school building, only you know. Only you know how it got this way. But get this way it did! What should we do?
Before it pleased you to show us how to teach a language using comprehensible input, it was really bad, but it kind of seemed all right. That was because the students from families with money memorized what they were supposed to, and those without the money just didn’t get into our classes, and it was all right at the time.
We didn’t think then about the equity piece. We weren’t aware. At least we had a job. We weren’t really thinking about what our country claims to be one of its core principles. We taught the few.
But now it’s pretty clear that you want this all to change for the kids. You want all of your children to be able to climb up onto your divine knees and reach up and grab that beautiful necklace and put it in their little hands and stare at the beautiful jewels on there and see all that light reflecting through it, all that light that there is in language, all that poetry, all that dance, all that love, all that human sharing.
You know all this, we just need to say it out loud here, to remind ourselves of things you never forget because you invented them.
The model for our work was always there – your Madonna and Child but we missed it and put this work, this crazy work we all do for you, up in our heads and we tried to teach your jewel-gifts, your languages, by making our kids think about it and that didn’t work and now we have comprehensible input and thanks for that but it doesn’t seem to be working for a lot of us and hence this supplication, this prayer, this need to just talk to you about it, to lay it all out, to tell you that some of us are really hurting, if for no other reason than just to say it.
So many of us are trying so hard to reach a lot of kids with our stories. We like the stories! The kids like them, pretty much. They work. Thank you. But they make a lot of us nervous, too. Just sayin’. Too often, that dang darkness creeps in.
Many of us have a fear of teaching this way, and it is very warranted, and then there is the classroom management issue, and the assessment insanity. First of all, years ago, all this crept in a little. Now it’s creeping in a lot to many of us.
The building darkness. It’s just sitting there, taking up more and more of our classrooms, it seems, each day, getting bigger each day, sitting there being ugly. It’s not the kids! They aren’t ugly and dark. But something is going on that makes it really hard for us to reach them. There is a wedge between us and your joy in our classrooms. It hurts so much.
And we keep trying to figure it out, because we know it’s the way forward professionally. So here we are just laying it all at your feet because we don’t know what else to do.
Oh, please help us Lord. We are scared and it’s dark and we are hurting and something has to change in our profession. We look around the battlefield and so many of us have taken big hits, have fallen, or are about to.
Our side, the language teaching profession, is down. We are led by prideful fools who place money and prestige in front of what is best for the kids. We are divided amongst ourselves. Enemies seem to be everywhere – ignorant administrators and willful students and envious colleagues and willful experts who lie.
Some of us are lying wounded with varying degrees of injuries, the mental kind of injuries that take so long to heal. It’s hard to get up and go to work when our minds don’t work as well as they used to.
Let your will be done in this and all things. Let us remember to trust in you. Just trust in you and things will be all right. OK we’ll do it! We have no other choice. Thanks for the reminder. We’ll just do that. No big solution here. Just a reminder that you’ve got everything under control.
It feels a little lighter now. Maybe we can really do it. Not win. All that is up to you. The outcome of every battle is up to you. But maybe we can just go back in there tomorrow and do our best for you. We know that that is all you are asking, but we just needed to be reminded of it.
It’s like the end of a sporting contest and we are down and beat up and hurting, lying in the mud, but not giving up hope, not giving in to despair. We can do that. But you have to help us. Maybe that’s what this prayer is about. Actually, that IS what this prayer is all about. Just help us. I know you can’t NOT help us as that is one aspect of your divinity, but we just needed to ask you again. We forget….
We started this prayer asking you to show us a possible way out of the darkness of what is going on in our classrooms, and now, having prayed to you, we see that perhaps what we need isn’t a way out but just the courage to stay in and fight, and most importantly, to trust that we are here doing this work – work that you have made clear is no game for the weak or faint-hearted – for a very good reason you know and we don’t have to know what it is.
So thank you for renewing our courage this evening, Lord. Thank you for reminding us to just put our trust in you each day and get up and brush off the wounds of the previous day and go to work.
Trusting in you is the motto of our country, after all. Thanks for the reminder! Thanks for helping us back this fear up and see it for what it is – nothing! Thank you for picking us up and brushing us off through the miracle of sleep, this night and every night this coming academic year so we can rest well each night ready to do your work the best we can the next day!
Please help us sleep well each night in 2020 so that we can be nice and rested for your little ones. Thank you for cleaning us up good so we can look good in our shiny CI language uniforms that you gave us that we love so much that we made our career out of that CI cloth you gave us.
We can continue to do our best for you. We can. But only with your divine guidance and help and by our remembering to talk to you occasionally like this. Remind us to do so often! And thanks for listening. It’s all about listening! You, of course, are the model for that! Who listens better than you? Who wants to help us more than you?
You will help us. We know it. It’s not about how good we are at CI. It’s not about how well we manage our classrooms. It’s about showing up for work and trying. Help us remember that this year. Your reminders aren’t always pleasant, but they come from you so how could they not be for our highest good overall?
Thank you, Friend. Guide as and protect us in 2020.
It’s not the beginning of the academic year, but it is the beginning of a year. Hey, we’ll take whatever we can get – something new, a kind of new start in the middle of the year…. This “something new” will necessarily have to happen around the way you assess them between now and June.
So for about seven years now I have been a mad dog on the use of what we used to call here the Interpersonal Skills Rubric (jGR) and of the idea that I can get the most attention from unruly kids by basing most (65%) of my assessment of them on the Interpersonal Skill ((ISR) of the Three Modes of Communication.
Sometimes kids or parents object to my tightening the screws on them in mid year by doubling down on my use of the Interpersonal Skills Rubric. This always happens because earlier in the year I have allowed them to “play” me for a grade without properly holding them to the rubric. No one enforces the ISR/jGR properly early on in the year and so they pay now with unruly classes, so don’t feel too bad. It happens to most of us. Why people don’t use jGR properly early on in the year – or the later version of it as ISR found in ANATTY and ANATS – is beyond me.
Why do some of us lack the personal power to hold kids to a standard from the beginning of the year? To our students who complain about our new policy and to our suddenly holding them to the 65% deal here in January, I tell them that I have chosen now in the second part of the year to better align their observable non-verbal behavior in my class with the standards, and I apologize for not doing a better job of grading them according to the standards before.
I always mention the standards when I talk to my students about grades. I mention the Three Modes of Communication and the term “observable non-verbal behavior” also when I talk to a parent after tightening the screws on their kids’ showing up for class as real human beings. I am ready for those conversations with terms like standards/research/ACTFL, etc.
I announce the change in class on the first day back after the break, taking an entire class period if necessary to make sure that my students know why I am enforcing jGR/ISR more intently now. I review the three modes with the hand gestures, of course, as described elsewhere here and in recent books.
Look. If you don’t hold them accountable in the way described in so many books and also here throughout so many years, then they will continue to play you. So look at this time of year as a kind of second chance. There are many classroom management plans in all the books, but perhaps the best is found as Plans A-E in A Natural Approach to the Year.
Let’s not mince words about going back into our classrooms after a vacation, esp. the summer vacation. The purpose of this post is to help us get mentally ready to go back to school AFTER the fast-approaching winter vacation.
The education system is designed, certainly unintentionally but with no less damaging results, to wear down our mental health. The professional freedom we crave isn’t available to most WL teachers, who are placed in a one-size-fits-all-subjects prison kind of mentality that comes complete with meaningless meetings and invisible power struggles that suck on our souls in the first weeks of school until we can adjust.
I got this from a group member today. It seems like this is a tough part of the year:
A student came into my room yesterday upset about his grade. He disagreed with me about some jGR grades I’d given him in November. He got heated and walked out. Then, he came in at the end of the day with an admin and we had an impromptu meeting. Last week I could’ve entered a couple jGR grades, but chose not to. I was questioned by the student and the admin why I didn’t do have grades last week. I was stuck. The student at that point sensed that and smugly asked me why I didn’t put in those grades. The student also felt like I was grading him based on his past image when he said he “recently” started making a change where he would be on task and not disruptive. While I did notice some change in him, for the better, he wasn’t an angel, especially not every day. The admin then asked me if I had ever given him a grade based on a poor image of the student. I was insulted. I try to give honest grades, and many times I am lenient. It really rubbed me the wrong way. And now a counselor is asking me to come by to explain my rubric to him. This counselor is also this student’s counselor. It seems like he’s being diplomatic. I am trying to see this as people just getting to be acquainted with how I teach. I’m starting to feel on the defensive though. My heart seems to be getting heavier the last week or so. Any encouragement you can give would be helpful. Thank you.
Craig has a question for the group:
I’m realizing finally that I have a problem. It is this. I am far too accommodating to students. Especially to ones that don’t make any effort to accommodate my requests. Any of you do this?
Here’s an article we should probably all read:
Jenna sent what is below. It’s about the need for a person to be fully committed to a concept to make it work. A recent (last two years) leitmotif in these pages has indeed been the need to commit and not just dabble in the research about CI.
I was introduced to this quote in a staff meeting and it resonated with me:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamt would have come his way. I learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Those who try to get a group of teenagers to stay with them in the target language are the big dogs.
Those who do the research and talk about comprehensible input are the medium size dogs – they don’t do what the big dogs do every day. Theirs is a much more pleasant professional life, but less is done in terms of moving the profession forward. They don’t have to bang their heads against the wall every day like the big dogs, but we need them. They feed us but don’t lead us.
Those who, because they know the grammar perfectly and try to make all the kids learn it like they did, are the little dogs. They are the little dogs of the past century. They are not even little dogs. They are puppies. They may grow up to be big dogs. If they don’t, due to the fast changing climate of language teaching in the United States, they will be working in some other profession. No blame there.
Very few teachers can be big dogs. It’s too hard.
We have never in all these years here discussed the deleterious nature of grading on our work. We just accepted it. I suggest that we rethink that position of acceptance.
Knowing the nature of how people acquire languages – because we have actually studied the research – we should have fought for its implementation in our classrooms better.
We didn’t, we just accepted the fact that we need to grade our students like in other classes. Again, if we are to believe the research, then that was a mistake.
Today since it is October – and I do this activity for a few days every October – I didn’t teach and broke out a learning styles inventory.
The inventory is simple and thus perfect for a group of kids. When I try to guess their three numbers (I am often right or at least I know what their distribution is) walls crumble between us. It is in my guessing each one of their patterns and esp. their dominant learning style that the relationships are forged.
Of course, I relate it to how we run our class. If I child is a dominant tactile/kinesthetic learner in my auditory class, I tell them that I respect the fact that they are a tactile learner in an auditory class but they must respect that my class is auditory.
When they know that they are not an especially auditory learner, it somehow makes things better – they can put a reason to their not being able to focus as well as others in class.
I usually guess their numbers fairly closely, because it is clear if a kid is tactile/kinesthetic (they fidget) or visual (they have a bit of trouble moving the instruction into their ears) or auditory (they are the ones who just relax and put the class on cruise-control).
This inventory is something I usually put off until later in the year, until I’ve been able to study how each of them learns, but I tried it today and it worked. It built more bridges. The classes are more personalized. They get it now about how the class works more than before. You may want to try it.
Just remember that in 300 people in any population roughly 100 would be visual, 100 auditory and 100 tactile.
Also remember that even in foreign language classes, schools have beaten the auditory and tactile kids to a pulp with the ridiculous amount of visual instruction they do (“Look at this, now read this, now look up here and read this, now write this, now fill out this sheet, look at the SmartBored”, etc.).
I would guess that since schools are so visual, and books (even books used to teach languages) are so visual, that many foreign language teachers (those 4%ers from high school) reject TPRS for that reason – they want it all to stay visual with the verb conjugation charts, etc.
The results can’t be too exact. In one small class 70% of the class was tactile but only two of them presented that way – they others had learned to quell their need to fidget. The worst of it falls on the shoulders of the tactile boys, as we all know. So when you at least acknowledge that in class, it is huge for them.
Another caution when you process this with the class – and a big one: don’t let the catty girl who heard her mom say that we need more games in class because when they play games they learn – don’t let the conversation go near that. A few snots will use their learning style to press us for making the class like their elementary class was, where they played games about fruits.
I like to use Learning Style Inventories with the kids in October. I find the simplest ones on the internet that only take about 15 minutes for the kids to fill out to determine if they are an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner.
It is very important to do that each year because each child who is not an auditory learner in a CI classroom needs to know that the reason they struggle more is NOT because they can’t do CI as well as the auditory learners, but because they simply haven’t found the “right part of their brain” yet.
Devoting one class in October to this activity (15 min. to get a score and the rest of class and often the entirety of the next class) has allowed me to get to know each my kids better, to make sense out of the results, and when it is early enough in the year to help launch really good CI classes based on increased trust. (The inventory discussion builds trust.)
I can always get to know my kids better. They are so good at hiding behind their faces. By giving up just one class now in October and giving them the inventory and maybe the next day and then maybe periodically after that.
I like to guess what their scores are with certain students, what their dominant learning styles are as a result of what I have observed in them since the year started. They love to see if I am right, and they love it when I guess their three numbers, and I have gotten some kids exact on their scores. That really blows their minds.
Doing the inventory is well worth the loss of one class of comprehensible input because, as stated above, with the increased trust the inventory generates, a lot more personalized comprehensible input seems to happen after we do the inventory. After the inventory, sometimes names happen, as well.
How does the inventory work? Before giving them the inventory, I explain that everybody is either a visual, auditory or tactile/kinesthetic learner, and some people are combinations of the two or three of them. I give them examples of each, so that the kids understand that:
1. visual learners like to process information logically and read and write and do things that teachers ask them to do in school all day and are good at algebra. I tell them that kids who are visual learners handle school and sitting in class and looking at stuff that teachers make them look at without much effort. I tell those kids that school is fairly easy for them.
2. auditory learners, I tell the kids, don’t often do well in school except maybe for geometry, because they want to learn with their ears and, except for my class and maybe a class in choir or some other music class, they are shit out of luck (I don’t really say that) as far as being content in a school environment, which is definitely visual pretty much all the way around.
3. tactile/kinesthetic learners, I say, like to work with their hands and do things that involve moving their bodies or manipulating things. I tell the kids that tactile learners become surgeons and auto mechanics, etc. I tell them that what looks like a desk to a visual learner looks more like a restraining device to a tactile learner. I try to impress upon them how serious that is for kids who test high on the tactile/kinesthetic scale.
It is a good thing for each kid in the room to be able to connect their school experience with their learning style. Kids with high visual scores can understand why they may process a little slower than others in my class, those faster (auditory) processors in the room whom they thought they were “smarter” than before they saw the auditory learners strut their stuff in my class. The kids with high tactile scores are relieved to know that there is nothing wrong with them and that their squirminess can be explained by their natural learning style and not by the fact that something is wrong with them. I entirely avoid the topic of using drugs to control tactile learners, for obvious reasons.
An example of how doing this inventory can help is one student of mine who is my best student in all my classes and who processes faster than anyone in any of my classes by far and yet is failing, for real at this moment, all her other classes – she is just not a visual learner. You should see the look on her face and on the faces of the others in class when we bridge that topic. Her face shines with pride as she is finally recognized for something she is good at, and because she understands that she is not stupid, a message that she has received for years from visual teachers who may have never even give her a learning styles inventory or mentioned multiple intelligences.
If you want, just give it to them, it’s self explanatory. At the end of the process, they will have scores between 10 and 40 in each of the three learning style columns. A typical score for an auditory learner would be 18 on visual, 34 on auditory and 26 or so on tactile.
Then, and this is where the trust and communication skyrockets as they see that you really care about them, you put your hand on your chin and look around the room and write three numbers for each kid on the board. Of course, you are guessing, but, after over two months with the kids, you might surprise yourself and the kid with your level of accuracy. The kids who always wants to doodle in class (but can’t because of the Five Finger rule) may get a guess of 30 from you. With one super auditory learner, I did this and looked right at her and said, “Your visual score is 16.” I was right and immediately everybody wanted me to guess their scores. The hardest one to guess if the visual score, because schools try to turn everybody into visual learners.
Doing the inventory is a fun way to spend time with the kids. Doing this activity makes them understand about how they learn in my classroom. That right there is a big deal. When I see that they don’t understand me in class, I have an even stronger reason to ask them to clarify with the fist slam move, as I make eye contact with them and maybe whisper in English something reminding them that they are a visual learner stuck in my auditory environment so they really have to try harder in my class.
Doing the inventory takes away any personal resentment the visual learner might have towards me, as they come to understand that it isn’t me that is trying to hamper them, but the way they process information that is the problem. And it is a great thing to have these inventories next to my printed grades for parent conferences, because it immediately takes away any oppositional energy that the parent might have. As soon as I say something like, “So, your child may be complaining about French because, guess what, they are a visual learner!” It’s a good place to start a parent conference. It’s a good thing to do right now in October, as many of us get ready to get lift off of stories in our fluency programs based on comprehensible input into and through the fine days of winter.
You must accept that you are never going to come close to teaching your students anything more than a fraction of the language, in spite of what the College Board would have you believe in order for rapidly burning out teachers all over the country to keep contributing to their coffers in the form of the AP Exam and other standardized testing programs that drive the educational system in place in the U.S. today.
You can never clarify things that you say in the TL too much, you can never speak slowly enough, you can never relax enough in the stress cauldrons that our buildings have always been, because your students have likely never heard enough language – not through any fault of your own – in order for them to be fully prepared for those standardized exams.
Our mental health initiative here on the PLC, which has become increasingly important here over the years, continues.
Some teachers who are using CI are getting too jiggy with it. They are always looking for the newest and latest activity that will render obsolete all the other innumerable activities that they have already found over previous years of frenetic searching.
The research tells us that we must relax if we are to succeed in this work. Said differently, the research strongly indicates to us that the key to our success in this work lies in the calm and relaxed and pleasant give-and-take of enjoyable conversation with our students, and not in any particular strategy or way of teaching using CI.