Thanks Jen!

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16 thoughts on “Thanks Jen!”

  1. Ben.
    Mr. Slavic, for so many teachers, your name (along with “the blog”) is an Institution.

    Congratulations on retiring from one aspect of your life’s work.


  2. I love this! I’m sending it out to everyone involved in our Workshop in Agen. This is so much what we’re trying to do every day in our classrooms and with our colleagues and friends. Thanks so much for sharing.

  3. Thank you all. This is rather a poetic moment as I am about to leave the building, any school building, for good, right now. I thought I would check the blog before leaving, and I wanted to share something that just happened. I was walking down the hallway having done the very last bit of job minutiae, checking out, etc. (returning some borrowed tripods to the media center) to fulfill my responsibilities to the school. Halfway down the long Lincoln second floor hallway, and I’m not big on psychic phenonema, but as I walked by a trash can in the hallway, for about ten seconds, my shoulders felt a big weight lift off them. It was very physical, not imagined. It was shocking and I said to myself, “So this is what it is like to not carry the school burden anymore”. So now I leave. I’ll just get up, pack up my courrier pack, sling it, get on my Klein Aura XV and get on the road before I get rained on, hopefully. Or maybe a good soaking from above is on the menu today. It’s not up to me anymore. I’m gonna take it as it comes from now on.

  4. Congrats Ben, both on a career well worked and for having blazed the path that many of us now follow. Without you and this blog, many of us would probably still be figuring out why it was that we were not happy teaching things like double object pronouns with the imperative and why our students just weren’t “getting it”. 🙂 Enjoy your retirement!

  5. Sabrina Sebban_Janczak

    Jen, Ben

    What a beautiful piece, right from the heart. It’s pure , authentic , visceral.

    This blog, Ben and all the people on this PLC changed my life too.

    I’m forever grateful.

    Ben, this is for you, and it’s not a goodbye because you are my friend, and in my heart forever…

    Ben, the two of us need look no more
    We both found what we were looking for
    With my friend to call my own I’ll never be alone
    And you my friend will see, you’ve got a friend in me

    Ben, you’re always running here and there
    You feel you’re not wanted anywhere
    If you ever look behind and don’t like what you find
    There’s something you should know, you’ve got a place to go

    I used to say, “I”, And “Me”
    Now it’s “Us”, Now it’s “We”

    Ben, most people would turn you away
    I don’t listen to a word they say
    They don’t see you as I do I wish they would try to
    I’m sure they’d think again if they had a friend like Ben
    Like Ben, like Ben

    Read more: Michael Jackson – Ben Lyrics

  6. Charlotte your question sparked a ramble but be warned that it is a long one:

    What I took away today, my retirement day, is just how unnecessary most of the work I did really was. This big insight has been rolling down the road at me for years now, ever since I realized the simplicity that TPRS/CI brings. The simplicity of this new work made me grasp just how crazy it is to always worry about stuff that goes on at school, to always allow things to get complicated, which describes schools very well, I think.

    Schools resemble insane asylums in that way, and today I see that more clearly than I ever have. All those people running around in there doing crazy shit that is mostly based on their need to exercise power over others, and not, as they claim, that they are doing it all for the kids.

    I see the role of politics in schools in a way I never did, as well. I see how really it’s about personalities trying to dominate other personalities, and crucial decisions that affect the lives of kids on the deepest levels are made from positions of posturing and politics.

    In DPS two multi-million dollar initiatives, LEAP and Pro-Comp, both designed to “help” teachers become better and happier and more effective in their jobs, have resulted, this year, in 1000 of our 3000 teachers leaving. That is an astronomical number, not counting the flight of thousands of more teachers in the past five years from the district. And we are looked upon nationally as a model for the rest of the country. That’s a scary thought.

    When I was a younger teacher I feared the strong politicians, they sensed it, and what I thought didn’t matter. Slowly, I began to see how manipulative my colleagues really were, and how their beliefs about what good teaching is were way off, and how they tried to stamp their ideas on others without really knowing what the hell they were talking about.

    Blaine Ray and Susan Gross and the other experts that I learned from over the years were not like that – they were different. They had found something real and put on their gloves and started fighting.

    And now I see that the old WL guard no longer comes into our arena. They have been defeated in Denver Public Schools. The five who got the Krashen train going in Denver are now eighty. The teachers who were four percenters in high school and college no longer come into our arena. They just look kind of stupid.

    We just hired the new French teacher at Lincoln. Out of 30 applicants, she was the only one with TPRS/CI skills and the desire to get better at them. We will train her the rest of the way in the fall and I can tell she will be excellent. The resumes of the other 20 or so French teachers who applied, resumes describing stuff they did that was done fifty years ago, were a joke and they got filed in the circular file real fast.

    This change is real. Ours is a brand new wide open way of teaching that must and will be kept free of politics and power and dominance, those horrible driving forces of 20th century education, but which are clearly being uprooted now by little old us.

    Helena Curtain insulted Carol Gaab once , for example. I won’t go into that. But now look at Helena, fading out. Carol represents the future, and so do all the rest of us. We will get the jobs now.

    So, Charlotte and sorry for the ramble but today is my day and I get to say what I want, this TPRS stuff is not just another movement. It is a change. One of the benefits of the true change are that we get to return ourselves to sanity, like I have, in a field still heavily populated by ego driven losers.

    So what you have do look forward to as you “end this life work gracefully” (nicely written) is to embrace those little insights you get about this work all the time, more and more of them, that whisper to you, “It’s o.k. you can relax now. You don’t have to be the smartest one anymore. The kids will respond to your story if you just relax. Teaching was meant to be fun.” and other stuff like that.

    That’s what I did. I trusted that this new work was real when I met Susie in 2001, I never stopped trying to plummet it’s depths, I believed in what Krashen said, I crashed and burned with it hundreds of times, I wanted to quit but I never did, and about five years ago, in year 32 of my career, I finally got it. Everything clicked. Bingo.

    In one sentence I would say this: In my teaching I went from being in fear of my students and colleagues to being relaxed and confident without a lesson plan because of the inherent grace and power of the method.

    I also met and continue to meet some remarkably fine people here in DPS and on this blog, not so much those on the listserve whom I don’t trust, and I mean it when I say that I don’t this site is at all for everybody and that is thankfully why this group stays small, which we need.

    If all that is not an advertisement for God’s patience and love and direct loving care for his children, then I don’t know what is.

    1. Thanks for the ramble, Ben. Where you were is where some of us are. Is change coming? A few years ago I had no hope. Today I do. Thanks to you and the group.

      Congratulations to the new French teacher. 1/30. But at least there is one of the thirty.

  7. Dear Dear Ben,

    I shared Jen’s quote of Ben Pfeiffer’s List with my son Daniel, who teaches Breton in Brittany. Many of his students want to be able to speak Breton with their parents and older relatives. He replied:

    J’ai appris tout ça depuis que j’enseigne une langue qui n’est pas la mienne à des gens dont cette langue représente un très fort lien avec leurs racines.

    Pour résumer : sois humble, ce n’est pas ta langue, tu apprends autant que ceux à qui tu apprends. Je ne suis pas un prof, je suis au service de ceux qui veulent apprendre avec moi. Je suis un médium. Je transmet. Mon boulot c’est de le faire du mieux que je peux.

    My translation: I’ve learned all that since I’ve been teaching a language which is not mine to people to whom this language represents a strong link to their roots.

    To sum it up: be humble, it isn’t your language, you’re learning as much as those you are teaching. I’m not a professor. I’m here to serve those who want to learn with me. I’m a medium. I transmit. My job is to do the best I can.

  8. This community is so deep and rich. Jen, I love everything that you wrote. Judy, your son’s words give me hope. I feel so grateful and humble to be a part of such a fine group of professionals and just plain good people and Ben, thank you does not even begin to express my gratitude for all you have done and will continue to do. You are a big part of a powerful paradigm shift in our lives and profession. All the best.

  9. Thanks for the ramble, Ben. Susie Gross also set me off on this interesting journey into TPRS land just three years ago and I have much to learn. I am finding that I cannot be a Susie Gross, a Blaine Ray or a Ben Slavic. The trick is figuring out how to use everything I learn to make this method work for me and for my students. There is great strength in being willing to be vulnerable enough to risk failure. You have showed me that. Thank you!

  10. Charlotte, I am just reading about the idea of failure and its potential for growth in the book “Mindset”. Very interesting. And yes, finding your own CI/TPRS self is critical.

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