Admins – Bless Their Hearts!

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21 thoughts on “Admins – Bless Their Hearts!”

  1. So I am in the middle of parent teacher conferences today and since I have been at my school for 8 years (3 or 4 of those as a traditional teacher) I have had students’ siblings (sometimes multiple ones).

    Now that CI is taking a hold in my department and some teachers who used to oppose CI have moved on to other schools I am hearing a lot of things from parents about how miserable their older children were with the traditional approach and how their current children now LOVE Spanish. I’ve even had parents asking me where they can buy the books that I have in my FVR library.

    We can get ourselves down so much because of the school system and traditional colleagues who make us feel like we are not teaching because we don’t do presentations or give homework, but in the end the kids are eating up the CI.

    Teenagers are not going to tell you that they love your class. It’s that age group that they are not allowed to do so because that would make them uncool in front of their peers.

    I even met a family who has a child at my school (a private school) and a child at Grayslake North (a school which heavily partners with Blaine Ray) and they said they are really happy with both programs. My point is that CI is soon going to be expected by parents and the traditional approach will be the exception. It might take 10 years but it’s slowly happening.

    Parents don’t care about ACTFL standards they only want their kids to be happy and to learn.

    So anyway, I just write this to encourage everyone on Ben’s blog.

    1. A great reminder, Greg. I’m teaching full NTCI for the first time this year, and most days have plenty to grumble about. I have to think that brighter days are up ahead. While my woes aren’t (yet) with push back from admin, colleagues, or parents, I have to believe that there are brighter days ahead.

      1. But Ben Lev in CA is putting in a grammar piece, Jake, with his level ones. What’s wrong with that? I think we need to soften to the degree necessary to placate those around us who still believe that the moon is made of green cheese, as it were. NTCI is radical, even traditional TPRS and iFLT people who like to sell novels and trinkets. NTCI is purest in terms of the research, but it also pisses people off. I know you have pointed out that heads hit desks when the grammar comes out. So just do 10%, for example ten minutes of a worksheet after ten minutes of FCR and then, when you’re twenty minutes into class, start w the CI. Just don’t take the warrior stance to those who aren’t ready to embrace the research. Boy I never did say things like that here ten or fifteen years ago. I was Mr. Radical. We’re just in a very slow process, that’s all.

        1. I am on year 2 of doing the hybrid approach. Last year I had some major backlash from my evaluator about “productive struggle” and having students use the textbook. So I switched at the semester. The students who didnt like my NTCI didnt like the textbook either.

          This year I am doing 1 week CI and 1 week Textbook. In a sense it is the best of both worlds in terms of sanity. In a sense of acquisition, the worst of both worlds.

          1. I’m sorry to hear this, Steven. As long as I’ve know you, all these years, I’ve seen few teachers with your ability to run a great CI classroom, and the fact that you are being pinned down now by ignorant people is a source of great concern to me.

      2. I read somewhere years ago that Tolstoy called schools “miserable, boring, dark places filled with unending meaningless tasks”. He said that he spent the darkest years of his life in schools.

        The creative part of students is at risk in schools, and teachers who attempt to be creative themselves in schools take a big risk – the push back from the school entity, with all its various horns and claws and testing needs, will always be intense.

        1. I think that what we really need to wrap our heads around on the topic of sub plans and really just in our general thinking is the idea that when 90% of the kids don’t really care, why should we?

          The only solution I have found – and I’m describing here one of the principle take-aways of my four decades in a foreign language classroom – is to find a way to make the instruction so interesting that the kids forget that they are in school and then it all opens up and becomes real.

  2. This from Greg is a really good paragraph:

    …we can get ourselves down so much because of the school system and traditional colleagues who make us feel like we are not teaching because we don’t do presentations or give homework, but in the end the kids are eating up the CI….

  3. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Ben, dunno if you are aware of this national educational ‘trend’ right now, but lots of public schools are talking about SEL (Social Emotional Learning) this year- – it’s their initiative du jour. We all know that there will be NO SEL for anyone with the status quo. SEL means creating a positive, trusting, low-anxiety learning and playing environments…
    I will intentionally seek hope with this new stated direction… Perhaps the overwhelming science is actually influencing Educational Policy. Maybe the pendulum is actually swinging back from all the ravages of NCLB and Race to the Top – which never delivered on the promised benefits from all the high-stakes testing data. It never did inform & improve instruction – it actually ate up the most crucial resources of time to teach, and funding for hands on deck (which got traded out for more expensive test-taking, analysis, & technology…)
    In my district they are talking about faculty SEL, saying that Ss cannot hope to have appropriate SEL if their teachers don’t first have it!
    Maybe we are about to wake up from our broad collective nightmare?!?

    1. I see the optimism Alisa. In my district we are having conversations about it and its role in schools and academics. When kids feel safe and are aware of their feelings and when teachers do, there is a boom in instruction. In my district it is an add on and more of a means to push students… which is a little sad. It also may prime us to consultation type of services from private companies which offer SEL platforms instead of actual systemic change in how schools treat students.

      Teachers are also being delegated these strategies but in my area, I feel that students need so much more from parents, from school psychologists etc… Teachers are taking on already so much, I feel.

      All this to say that SEL is good but its practice is not so great in my eyes.

        1. It’s almost as if they treat the curriculum itself as if IT were the child while the child, the intended object of focus is left to languish with none of his or her human needs met.

  4. I’ll turn this into a post. It’s so important. The only thing is that so many teachers lack the SEL qualities and still embrace the data piece. Until they either get some serious training in SEL, and do the hard internal work it requires, the opening up of the heart, as it were, it’ll be a slow go. Yes, it will happen, but we’re a long way off. But we are as you suggest definitely waking up. God bless us.

  5. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Steven’s cynical-but-true comment really speaks to me.
    The schools are acknowledging that SEL is a crucial piece of the puzzle, and then dumping ALL the SEL work on classrm Ts. Resources are scarce (That’s what Chicago is striking about!) so instead of calling in the caseworker, psychologist, social worker, SPED decision-maker, etc. we T’s are told to endlessly ‘gather data.’ The data is itself a moving target. What is it that will get the kid an intervention and some services?
    And lots of pussyfooting around the parents – we don’t want to suggest that perhaps our public school is NOT the least restrictive environment, cuz then maybe we’ll get sued & have to pay for a therapeutic out-placement (which is prolly what is needed.) It’s a way to kick a kid in crisis down the road instead of getting him what he needs, and the wasted year becomes an insane anxious nightmare for the T and potentially traumatic – or a waste of time – for his classmates, too…
    And then next year, the receiving teacher starts again from zero, with the unread file bursting at the seams from last year.
    Decision makers (and this no longer means principals!) are trying to minimize the EXPENSE of individualized attention for neuro-atypical kids. They are, as Stephen suggested, trying to convince us that with a responsible application of everyday SEL, our classroom should be good to go. What am I not doing? It must be that I’m not good enough…
    But we are seeing very troubling outlier behavior.
    Recently we had a meeting about a student in crisis. Later we were offered some canned SEL training through CHAMPS. It’s one of the “private companies which offer SEL platforms instead of actual systemic change in how schools treat students” that Stephen mentioned. Though I am open to any practical learning from it, I signed up to bear witness to the absurdity of waiting nearly 2 months for a one-size-fits-all off the shelf solution for a kid who’s been in crisis since the opening to the year.
    Why isn’t anyone in a hurry? Cuz it will cost money.

  6. One day we’ll look back and see this time as degrading for everyone, even those who get to make up the rules. The good thing is that IMHO those days are just about over. SEL is not just the next thing to come along, it’s going to define education for the next 700 years, in my opinion. SEL is just the opening up of the heart quality and the end of the road for domination by the intellect. First, we moved from instinct to intellect and now we are making the leap from intellect to intuition. So if anybody has given up hope, don’t, because we are just about through the forest of black and white sadness to full color happiness. What we see now is just the end of the old order. It has to be swept up and a lot of dust is being raised, causing one to believe that dirt is everywhere, but this cleaning out of old ways of thinking has to happen to make room for the new bright dawn. Courage, everyone! We’ve fought long and hard and we will see the results soon. How do I know that? I don’t really, but I believe it in every cell in my body. I believe.

  7. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I just happened to take a peek at the PLC this morning to avoid getting ready for work – and I saw this fantastic comment from Ben – not just full of hope but containing so much truth. I too believe what you say and observe…so thank you for the much-needed October encouragement!

    It doesn’t help that summer has fully slipped away and though the fall colors are stunning, grey is upon us… but your comment is a ray of warm sunshine!
    Follow the news on the Chicago Pubic strike. Our comrades will remind you why you’re proud to be a teacher, and why you chose it as your calling.

  8. Fight hard CPS. Sean is probably in the middle of it.

    One thing about strong unions is that they reflect the recent post here about a Teacher’s Bill of Rights, and they are good and true. Sometimes, due to the societal-cultural mindset, there is a feeling when teachers strike that they are pushing the envelope and don’t really deserve what they are demanding. It is very important to say, even here in our little group, that that thought is a big pile of bullshit. We deserve to win on every single issue we bring up with management, and no discussion about it.

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