Chicago was wonderful. Craig Sheehy slept at the mini-steering wheel of the monorail above Victoria’s Secret and his Turkish boss yelled at him and then just outright fired him.
That same Turkish boss, Lt. Col. Ali Isik, blew up the word chok in Turkish into a big balloon and now I can’t forget it. He also taught us how to power lift the word laughs gurule above our heads.
Anu Singh danced the rrrrromba in Tamil so now I know how to say “too much” in Turkish and in Tamil. Then Scotland’s new pride and joy – they don’t know it yet but they will – Jason Bond showed us how blasta/tasty things can be in Gaelic.
Yes, thank you for asking, the world is getting smaller and we really are starting to learn each other’s languages, if only at these conferences. Such a small start will eventually only bring good things, because the work and the teaching we did this past week was real. It was real work.
Those things above represent about 0.0001 percent of what happened at NTPRS. I got to meet Senor Wooly. I met some of the best people in the world. A quiet member of our group, Ray Bauer, a very kind and unassuming Spanish teacher in Chicago, not only taught lights out Spanish to the War Room group, he also shared with me that, after getting hammered for his CI approach for years by colleagues, one of his students this year scored a perfect score on the national Spanish exam. He explained how that finally stopped the hammering on him by colleagues and shut everybody up. So mega congratulations to you Ray!
I also discovered another theme for this coming year’s work here on the PLC – the role of emotion/singing/chanting/dancing in this work, in our teaching. It hit me while I was teaching French this past week how truly physical this work is. Of course! How can a student respond physically to instruction that is presented non-physically? It would be like a yoga teacher teaching yoga using only words. We have talked a lot about creating images in the minds of our students via our TPRS/CI instruction, but have we talked enough about creating muscle memory in our students? It’s a very good topic for this coming school year. And no if you are not a singer or changer then you don’t have to do it since we also learned over the past two weeks how truly reflective of teacher’s own personalities this work can be.
I will publish an article here in the next month describing some other things that I think would be good to work on this year. There are about four things.
For anyone starting the 2014-2015 school year this week (!) like Louisa in San Diego does on Wednesday (!) and Bethany started last week (!), there are lots of articles on “Beginning the Year” in that category to the right of this page.
The work done in the War Room by both the Denver and the Chicago groups far exceeded my expectations. I couldn’t even begin to describe how, from the first work by Angie Dodd on Monday at iFLT to our last lesson (in German) from Eric Spindler Thursday nite at NTPRS, a parade of gifted teachers each taught a lesson at a level of expertise that far exceeded anything that I thought I would see. Some, like the super-talented Brian Peck from Detroit, have only been doing this stuff since October.
It really was a mind blowing two weeks, meeting people I had known online here for years in some cases. A problem was enough time. The last War Room session Thursday night went from 7:00 p.m. to 1:15 a.m. and the two nights before went past midnight, and it just wasn’t enough time for everybody to work.
This is a subtle point. We found that our format of ten minutes of uninterrupted coaching followed by a five minute critique and then two minutes of stoppage time added on, along with a five minute add-on for the teacher if desired, was not enough.
I found myself asking the timer (Carly Robinson in Denver and Erik Spindler and Sean Lawler in Chicago were perfect timers) for extended time for certain people working.
We need some kind of conference where we work and get coached all week from early morning until late night – like four days and nights of insane immersion coaching – that might follow something like this format:
10-30 min. – uninterrupted teaching
5-10 min. – discussion/critique/suggestions
2 min. – stoppage time on the discussion (probably not necessary to have this step but it’s cool and reminds us of the World Cup)
5 – 10 min. – final uninterrupted teaching sequence by whoever is working where they apply/test ideas suggested during the discussion period.
So if we were to follow that longer format it could be almost an hour of work by one person. What does the group think about this? The minimal time a teacher would work counting everything is 20 min. and the maximum would be 50 min. and in some cases like Lt. Col. Isik even longer.
I would love to hear what those who worked at both conferences might have to say about this idea and what they have to say about the War Room experience in general.
I sincerely apologize to those who didn’t get to work. Every minute of the work done by Ali on Thursday night was just mega important. Also I gave extended time to Jason Bond because we were learning a language that we have never encountered at summer conferences and it was just so cool to be doing that. That also goes for the rrrock and rrroll rrromba lessons given by Anu in Tamil. So if you didn’t get to work, jump up earlier next time and grab the spot before someone else does.
As I said about the work done in Denver, I am convinced that none of the work we did could ever be remotely captured on video. Fakat that doesn’t mean not to send in any video of your teaching this year. I was told by many at both conferences that they learned A TON from the videos on the blog.
For example, Jason, who teaches on an island off the Eastern coast of Scotland, told me that the work we saw him do last week was learned entirely on this PLC by reading and watching videos. That to me is my dream come true for this site, that someone could learn that kind of teaching just from the videos we have here.
Speaking of videos, I don’t think that many of us are aware of the truly valuable videos made in DPS over recent years that are on SchoolTube. Go there now if you haven’t already. It has video of a lot of the teachers who worked in Denver:
That’s my report from Chicago. The rest is rrromba. The whole experience this past week was just chok. What we did was just so blasta, and au dessus de any previous experience I have ever had at any training, and I have been to many.
What people I am privileged to know! AND I got some precious time conversing with Le Chevalier de L’Ouest Robert Harrell who is as pleasant a conversationalist as he is well informed, if that is even possible.
What could be better? And now it’s time to think about next year. We’re not sure about iFLT yet, but NTPRS will be in Washington D.C. in 2015. So let’s knock out some discussion below about your suggestions/ideas for next year’s War Room while we have this one still fresh in our minds. I am completely open to what the group suggests for next year.