The new direction of this blog isn’t just away from boring SLA theory and the discussion of research. Its also away from its long held focus on using comprehensible input in the classroom. There is a bigger goal, one I forgot about in all the excitement about the CI. The new goal for me in my TPRS world is toward anything that makes a child feel good in my classroom.
Now that will necessarily include CI, of course, because we all know that CI is the very best tool we have for teaching a language, but the shift here on the blog now will be towards what the kid experiences in my classroom. The CI has become secondary for me. There is a difference between focusing on my instruction and focusing on my students.
Let me say it again because it is such a big deal for me. No longer do I perceive my work as a language teacher to teach as much language as I can so that I am perceived by those around me as cool. Now I see my role as a CI teacher to be 100% into making children feel happy in my classroom.
I want my students to want to come to my classroom just to have fun, just because they want to, and not so much to learn French as much as to feel welcome somewhere in the world, somewhere in the world, to feel that there is a place, a place, where what they do and think counts more than a test score or a grade.
Word. I no longer consider my work as a language teacher to be one of teaching as much French as I possibly can to my students. I consider my work to be in making my classroom a pleasant place to be. I need to keep saying this until I get it on an even deeper level, a deeper level. I want my life to change. I want to live in joy and not fear and I feel that what I am talking about here holds the key to that change.
So in the Kandy the Korn videos – all nine of them – the viewer will see a tremendous amount of English being used, most of it to talk about student-created class content, some directed at my colleagues here on the blog, as well as the student jobs. That is not a bad thing – it is a good thing.
Normally if I were to speak so much in English about those things, especially the student jobs, part of me would aggressively try to guilt myself into thinking that the TPRS police might get me for speaking all that English, but now I don’t care. It’s like a tremendously evil thing, an evil thing, an evil thing, an evil thing, has finally been lifted from me, the belief that teaching my kids as much French as I could was what counted in my life as a teacher. I was stupid, fooled.
So I say that I have moved into a completely different place in my teaching. I don’t care about the research. I know what works so why belabor the point? And the French isn’t as imprtant as I thought. On some level I know that the only reason I learned French besides the fact that I love it as a hobo loves a ham sandwich is to get people to think I was smart and like me. I was stupid, fooled.
So now as that stuff – that old life, that nervous life of going in upset every day because I couldn’t teach them all I knew – that old life cracks away. I can see clearly now that I just want my students to really enjoy the time we spend together in my class, the time we spend together on this earth.
And so damn the language police, if this new way of being alive in my classroom requires a lot more English, then so be it – there will be a lot more English. And Ben, focusing more on the kids does require a lot more English, especially, and this cannot be repeated enough, those student jobs, a concept that I brought to the TPRS community about ten years ago. The student jobs were important then but now I can say with authority that they are THE most important thing in TPRS in my own CI world.
So if you used to think your job was to teach the language, think again. Please take more than a casual look at what I am saying here. I am saying without qualification that teaching anything is less important than creating a safe and loving and welcoming environment in our classrooms for our students who live in such deep fear about life now, and that includes using more English in our classrooms.
We have had the focus wrong here over these past years, in my opinion. Our focus was on the research and on the CI but now I see that for me – and the direction I will now take this blog – will now be about bringing laughter and happiness into my classroom.
Letting go of the guilt and the stinking thinking of my old AP lang/lit teacher self who still occupies an egregiously unfortunately judgmental slice of my teacher’s mind will not be easy. But then who ever said that teaching is easy? And screw that guy. There is no shortage of those pompous weasels out there anyway, going to ACTRL with their little briefcases with nothing in them.
I will do this change because I have figured something out.