The focus this year on simplifying our instruction with the intent of making our mental health the key thing in our jobs is paying off, if any of the emails I am having with some of the PLC members are any indication. The simplicity of our CI instruction is reaching new highs this year.
(I am very fortunate here at the American Embassy School in New Delhi to have small classes of well-behaved middle school kids, so that factor has of course played huge in my feeling so good about my teaching right now after almost four decades of feeling beat down and half insane all the time. It must be said that many, perhaps over 80%, of the hardships we talk about here so often, all the hassles, etc. are due to classes that are too large (in my view that means over 24 students.)
Irrespective of the factor of class size, which we cannot control, we can make sure that our instruction is simple. We don’t often do that here, I try my best at it, and I apologize for any role in my failing to make clear in this venue how simple this work is. The fact is that this work is beyond simple. I can see John Piazza shaking his head yes on that point when he reads this.
So if we know that the work is so simple, despite the “new TPRS” that has surfaced in the past few years of creating “TPRS lesson plans” – for those who feel safer having them but ultimately that fail to capture the kind of simplicity I am talking about – then it behooves us to work together, for our mental health and joy in the classroom (joy is necessary to have in our hearts when we teach a story) so that we an achieve the KIND of super simple CI that I am talking about.
Read the Invisibles post process highlighted in red in that article which appeared today. It is such a simple process, those four steps. They make story asking simple. Why would we need lesson plans? We don’t need lesson plans to teach really great CI. All we need is joy in our hearts and a sentence to work with, as per that Invisibles post. The small classes are a huge factor, yes, but we can only change what we have control over, and that is our mental outlook and how we teach.
It doesn’t have to be Invisibles, by the way. It won’t be for all of us. Because we are all different. We will all have different levels of success with the 30 different strategies outline in the Big CI book, if we use that as a resource, of with the things we have learned on other CI sites and blogs, all brilliant work by brilliant people. But none of those strategies, at least the ones in my own books, can be called lesson plans or reflective of the “new canned” TPRS. Storytelling is not a lesson plan. It’s a process. If you think it’s a lesson plan you won’t get to the level of joyfulness that we were meant to enjoy in life, which includes our jobs. That’s what I think, at least.