A repost from 2013:
Intuitive teaching is about trusting the heart/intuition to bring more to the class than just mere intellectual discussion. Mere intellectual discussion does not bring fun, nor does it bring the heart quality, which in turn brings more learning and much bigger enrollments with happier kids in them.
In fact, teaching from a merely intellectual stance, where the teacher is a mere “deliverer-of-instructional-services” (Ted Sizer’s term) brings the opposite reaction from students – boredom. Failing to include the kids in a language class on a personal level with laughter and highly personalized discussion, both of which spring from the heart, results in spaced out kids who can’t get interested in class because the class is not about the only thing that they care about: themselves.
Like Napoleon Dynamite says to Pedro before Pedro has to go speak in front of the student body:
“Listen to your heart; that’s what I do.”
We all have our own definitions of what it means to trust the process in a classroom, and I dare say that it is a novel idea to go into a classroom which might contain more than a few mistrustful kids and open ourselves up in that way, thus making room for kindness and genuine listening and care and concern for others.
Even one student, as all know quite well, can cause us to shut down our heart and put up our defenses. If there are people in the room whom we can’t trust it changes everything. Does that mean that we don’t try for this kind of teaching?
My own answer to that question is a strong no. Teaching from the heart is too wonderful a thing to not explore it. There is no doubt that most of us will have to deal on some level with the issue of open heart in teaching this year in relation to one or more difficult children.
We must bring greater and greater levels of trust into our classrooms, because we, Bob Patrick speaks to this aggressively, know and value trust as the gold standard for any language teacher, even if nobody wants to talk about that now in these deep mordorian days.
I am trying to say that I don’t think we have much of an option in exploring this area if we are to pull everything we can from TPRS/CI. This kind of teaching is essentially intuitive anyway, and depends completely on trust and good will. If the kids are not involved, slow down and make some space for the human piece to happen.
Those who make space for trust in spite of all the heavy energy in the room – and I don’t use that term lightly – will be the ones who make the method work for them as it is meant to work.
This way of teaching is a method of the heart. That is why Laurie calls her website Hearts for Teaching (http://www.heartsforteaching.com/). When we start a class, we have a box to put things in (PQA or a story script or just hanging out with wall words), but the things that go into it, the details for the language instruction for that class and that class alone, don’t exist yet since the kids only provide them during class in response to our skilled questioning.
We fill in the boxes with personalized, happy, pleasant, person-affirming information that differs from class to class since there are different students in each class. As we continue to focus on those happy, funny, unexpected and highly personalized things, the trust builds, the group becomes one, and the minds of the students forget that they are learning a language. That’s how it works.
Most people don’t resonate with that approach because of their need to “cover” what is in the scope and sequence. They don’t want to let go of the edge of the pool. But when we teach in an untargeted way, diving deep into the pool of language, we teach everything in the scope and sequence and a vast amount of language more. By clinging to the sides of the pool, many will never find out how deep the pool is.