A Blow To His Confidence 3

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8 thoughts on “A Blow To His Confidence 3”

  1. I am glad that this boy has someone as insightful and compassionate as this young person 🙂 But, it is highly discouraging that it took a fellow student to recognize his needs and offer him a helping hand.
    As an aside, I had the same problem with the whole IB language requirement. My students had my classes for two years, five days a week. They were conversant in present, preterit and imperfect (and some of the highly gifted kiddos even used the subjunctive correctly in standard phrases!) And yet, they were told they had to take Spanish I in the IB program because it “moved faster” and “covered more material” than traditional programs. The IB teachers, LOVED getting my kids, because they were so quick to catch on, etc. But, my poor students often felt they wasted an entire year.
    I never thought to ask how it made the other students, like this young boy, feel having my kids in the class with them.
    Don’t we just love bureaucracy?

  2. Profe Loca, I can empathize with your students. When I was in school I began taking Spanish in fourth grade. By the time I had finished junior high we had completed Spanish 2, using the high school’s Spanish 2 book. The high school counsellors came to advise us for the next year and said that we had to take Spanish 2 at the high school because junior high Spanish “wasn’t the same”. Most of my friends said they had had enough and quit. Being the four-percenter and language lover that I am, I dutifully signed up for Spanish 2. It was an utter waste of time. Not only did we repeat exactly the same material I had already covered, but the teacher was totally incompetent and had zero control of his class, which was filled with football players who didn’t want to be there. Then, to add insult to injury, the very same counsellor who had “advised” me the year before called me into his office toward the end of October (after it was “too late” to make schedule changes). Why? So that he could tell me that I should have signed up for Spanish 3 and shouldn’t receive any credit for repeating a class, but since I “didn’t know any better” [right, like I hadn’t argued with him the previous year at the junior high school], they would let me keep the double credits for graduation, but any college would only recognize the second course for admissions, so I really needed to do well in it.
    Next month I turn 60, and I still react to the memory of all of that. It does have an impact on both sides. (I’m sure the jocks had issues because they knew I never studied Spanish, but I always had the right answer even though I wasn’t a native speaker.) Unfortunately, during my career as a high school teacher, I have seen far too few counsellors who give me any reason at all to change my opinion of their (in)competence.
    Sorry for the rant, Ben.

  3. Rant away brother. This is not a place where one runs the risk of offending. It is a place where one has brothers and sisters who are experiencing very similar things professionally, very similar frustrations in tough times with great, usually secretive, oppositional energy that exists under the radar in our buildings, in which ranting or even a good gut based difference of opinion is not allowed. We rant, because otherwise we would think we are alone in these incredible times, and we would suffer more. We may not be physically together, but we are together in heart. You have my deepest respect. I know what you are doing, and it is a right and good thing. Rant on.

  4. Bernie Schlafke

    I will treasure the thoughts from reflecting on this post for a long time. It’s so heartening to hear of today’s kids rising above the “should worlds” created by mandated, model-centered forms of education in our schools, churches, and world of advertisements. (Whew!) Thanks always for sharing gems like these!

  5. I am doing a lof of reflecting on how Laurie’s idea of embedded readings (EBR is a better acronym than ER) tags onto your general point, Bernie. In particular, I am seeing that it is possible to teach in a way that honors the kids enough so that they in fact CAN rise above the mundane, the fear of a bad grade, and all the bullshould.
    What Laurie’s idea does (this one idea, but also a lot of what we do in TPRS) is to potentially RELEASE the child to learn as per Krashen in a natural way because the kids have been put in a non-threatening learning environment, a world without “shoulds”, as you said.
    Now this is a most profound point for me personally, because ever since I met Susan Gross I have felt, each year more, a surging of the possibility that I could actually get out of the Suck Zone as a teacher (the Suck Zone is a classroom where the teacher tries to “get” kids to learn).
    Even writing about it is therapeutic. Imagine a system of teaching where there really is co-creation. I am prone to dreaming, and to this entire possibility of releasing my old teacher “need” that my students learn and just giving up all that stupid control and overplanning and letting us all flow forward into a more natural form of learning because we are allowing angels to push us from behind in the classroom. (I get to say stuff like that because this blog is kind of journaling process for me – I get to process stuff here and the main focus of that processing is finding ways in TPRS that take me out of the Suck Zone and into the Trust Zone. I am convinced that the Old Way is firmly a Suck Zone way and won’t get me where I want to be professionally. So I could rant about how Blaine’s ideas have released me to float in the direction of the Zone Where Angels Push Teachers From Behind, or whatever we want to call those places when we are in peacefulness and harmony with our students, but it is Laurie’s EBR that is “up” right now. I can’t wait to further this EBR discussion, process more and more with Laurie and others like Carol and Michel who have drunk the EBR kool-aid already.
    Laurie, we are watching, in my level fours (they are a bit burned out on stories because I have been hammering them with Matava’s book for months now), My Mother’s Castle (Pagnol/Robert) and the beauty of the film fairly leaped into the room and the kids wrote down the things you suggested in French and English and so far so good. So I am ready for my next lesson. You suggest in your blog on Embedded Readings
    that the kids do a ten minute free write after the film. I would assume that they would use their notes (French/English made during the film) as a base for these freewrites. Is that correct? Next, you would go through the process of making increasingly simpler versions of an original 700 word text, that you wrote from their freewrites. Correct me if that is not accurate since I want to bring this big 700 word text into class with me tomorrow. Could you suggest a time frame for these increasingly simple texts and how that plays out over a series of classes? (Don’t forget to tell us about the “other activities” that are involved in this process – I want to be crystal clear about this entire process.)
    The vibe in the room around this process is real good, by the way. I am able to be less dominant in the room, it’s not so much about me but about us together. So, any activity that would do that is worth it. My prime professional goal in the room for 33 years now (although I wasn’t always aware of it) is to get them more involved and me less involved (i.e. remove the presence of the dominant teacher telling them what they should do and, as per Theodore Sizer, be more of a coach as they produce stuff that they enjoy producing), so that is why I am riveted by your new idea and its potential.
    Bernie this ties back to your apt description of my former student and her work with her teacher in the IB program – I taught that kid for two years and never once did I feel that I had to get her to learn anything. In middle school her entire approach to learning in all areas was one of metacognition mixed with good will and a good old American “can do” approach. She is a model for what students can become, and, if there is only one in a school, she can share her talents, as she did by running down a hallway to prove a point, with others, and change will slowly be there. So with us, I see Laurie and her blog as a point of reference for how we can become happy in teaching.
    Think about it. Happy in teaching. That’s quite a concept. And it’s related thought – students happy in learning. Are those things possible? And are those two things indeed related to the idea of we as teachers getting out of the way and cutting the kids some slack and creating ways that give them more ownership in how they learn – which I really see EBR as being able to provide – so that there is no more battle, no more suffering in the classroom, no more combat? As long as I have colleagues like Laurie and Bernie and Carol and Michele and Vera and Skip and Michel and Jim-Bob over there in Iowa and all of y’all, I have to say yes to that idea.

  6. Does anyone know of films that are
    1. appropriate
    2. SLOW
    3. interesting to teens
    I’m trying to make a list. This would be for all levels. I am finding that even my level fours taught with grammar/translation need really slow films to not feel the low confidence thing. (Susan Gross recently told me an astonishing thing, and I believe it – that after about three months or so, the kids forget the grammar. It’s just so weird, this point. They get it all balled up over time if it doesn’t get a good daily workout in the form of speaking).

  7. There is a short list of reading-based activities here:
    I’ve attempted to connect ideas to examples available on my school webpage…but I am a technoweenie so do not be surprised if there are glitches. Of course, my school examples are in Spanish…I did try to give short examples in English. There are, of course, other activities, and as always, more to say, but my son’s bowling match beckons….
    with love,

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