In a discussion initiated by Elena yesterday about the idea of breaking the ice with the kids, getting to know them as human beings first before trying to teach them anything, jen said:
…I did this after trying to do this as a group and then realizing that the level of social unsafety in the building was sky high and so kids even in my “safe” space did not feel free to be themselves….
This is strong. A “sky high level of social unsafety”. Wow.
I like the truth here because it defends my current position on the ACTFL 90% Use position statement. We can’t address the real needs of kids in our classes in an increasingly poor America (for most Americans) and still act like the language we are teaching is the topic when it’s not, when, rather, the kids are. If we can reach the kids in L2 as much as we can with some really nice uninterrupted flowing input and then spend the rest of the time on some uplifting uninterrupted discussion in L1, it might be best for them. Let’s give up on this selfish (on the part of the adults) mindset that we in education are here to get best gains via best practices. All that is out the window now in the new America and all bets are off. The silent screams and the low moan of constant pain in the muted throats of too many of our children is becoming audible now, and we must change. It’s not about us and how effective we can be in the classroom. It’s not about gains any more. It’s about kids trying to survive. It’s about the kids being able to maybe find some shred of something real in their screened off young lives before it’s all too late.