The point about being happy – everyone in the classroom being happy – is at the crux of our discussion, or should be. For many in the CI world, it isn’t. The work has been too much focused on student gains and how the teacher can focus on their own skills and wonderfulness to bring them about. Those are superficial things, housed in the mind, in ego. They alone cannot bring about the transformation in our teaching that we desire. We must learn to listen to our students’ hearts, and the only way we can do that is to listen to our own.
The real listening of the prospective new masters of this work, which we surely all can become, is to listen to what our students really want. It’s not to learn the language. It’s to be seen as important by the group while they focus on what is going to happen in the story. That is how they can be happy in our classrooms. For them, learning comes second, and being recognized as important members of the group comes first. But for us, learning has always come first. It has been a problem.
It is in simply feeling important and acknowledged in class where their real language gains and our own success as teachers will originate. And where else can real interest be unlocked but in a good story? Certainly not in a novel, which is a thing of the mind, of thinking, and too distant from the hearts of our students. A good story is a thing of the heart, of feeling.
Our work is no more complex than finding ways to open love channels to those difficult students in our classrooms who are so hard to love, and to find ways to reach them with a good story. We can do it. God will help us.
Therefore, real happiness in the CI classroom lies not in finding the next new and special CI teaching technique or set of lesson plans or novel. Rather, it lies in doing something much harder – loving all those kids in our classrooms who are so very hard to love, because so many of them have never experienced unconditional positive regard from a teacher in their entire careers as students.
We have always put the learning first, and that is why we have not had the successes that we know are possible in this work. How can our students grow into the behaviors that we ask from them in our storytelling classes, unless we consistently model what we want from them in return?