As I look back, I can identify three segments to my career as a language teacher. Below, I rate each one in terms of the personal fulfillment and misery they each brought me:
1. 1977-2000 – Traditional AP French Language and Literature instructor in three South Carolina high schools.
Level of Fulfillment: 0/10
Misery Level: 10/10
Summary: These were some of the worst years of my professional life.
2. 2000-2015 – Traditional TPRS instructor in three Colorado schools.
Level of Fulfillment: 5/10
Misery Level: 8/10
Summary: These were years filled with both immense hope and immense anguish. This PLC chronicles many of those years, since 2007. There was lots of joy in learning together and sharing ideas with so many brilliant teachers here over the years, but the fact is that underlying the entire decade-long discussion here there was the feeling that, in spite of writing five books on the method, I still couldn’t make TPRS work for me personally, at least not in the way I saw possible in my deeper mind. Maybe that’s why I wrote so many books – in a dogged effort to make TPRS work for me because so many of my colleagues said and still say that it worked just fine for them (so I acted like it was working for me because I had nothing else).
3. 2015-2018 – Non-targeted CI instructor in India
Level of Fulfillment: 10/10
Misery Level: 0/10
Summary: I found my joy at the American Embassy Schooll in New Delhi, India. Everything made sense. Then I found another person, Tina, who agreed with my new way of doing CI instruction, got proof from Blaine that he had always done it this way, and off we went.
The only problem was a big one – I only got to do the third segment for the second half of the 2015/16 year, or about 1/80th of my entire career. Bummer! But Tina and I have had great fun writing and presenting in summer workshops on the non-targeted natural approach books we have written over the past two years that came out of that year in India. And we look forward to some great (because narrow and deep and intensive week-long) institutes in five cities this summer. So it wan’t an entire loss. I know it sounds crazy, but I am thankful to God for finally giving me what I wanted and needed as a teacher, even if it was for just a fraction of it. I never gave up hope. Well, actually I did, but somehow I got through the years. I know how.