Clearly, the case being made here is that shame plays a major role in preventing real communities from forming in our classrooms. What to do about it?
In my view, the best way to neutralize the effects of shame in our classrooms is to offer a superior, feel-good and strongly inclusive community building curriculum (see definition of curriculum offered above).
The One Word Image/Invisibles curriculum literally paints the shame out of our classrooms with positive strategies that succeed almost without effort, because the starting points for this new curriculum are not (targeted) word lists but (non-targeted) images that instantly grab everyone’s interest.
So let’s wrap up this post with one statement: We must acknowledge that (a) many of our students are experiencing toxic shame every day, but that (b) they are hiding it, and so (c) we must use gentle hands to invite those kids into the fun, with the right hand delivering strong and compelling comprehensible input via images and the left hand delivering real community to the classroom via the fun that the images generate.
We must rub away, via happiness and love (think of Saint-Exupéry’s definition*), our students’ fragile and unformed personas. Most teachers who are in teaching for the right reasons do that everyday anyway, of course, but we can’t just give beyond our capacity without being armed with proper support.
Any program that naturally and in an unforced way elevates the interest of the kids in the lesson will do. Those novels don’t do that. When I was doing targeted stories they didn’t elevate things much – I was always having to work too hard. The Invisibles are proven winners in this regard. And the individually created images (ICI) do better than the one word images (OWI) in this respect, in my own experience. It’s all in ANATS.
It could be that in our language classrooms some of our students will feel really safe and included for the first time ever in in their young lives! If that is so, then we can truly say that we have chosen the right profession, and that all the efforts we have made to deliver strong comprehensible input in a feeling of real community in our language classrooms will have been well worth it!
*…aimer, ce n’est pas se regarder l’un l’autre, c’est regarder dans la même direction…/Love does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction….