Just wanting to teach slower, so that they can understand, cannot be willed by the mind. No amount of SLOW posters can help us. The problem is the mind itself, it’s nature. We can’t depend on it to slow us down. The mind, it seems, only wants to speed things up! So much to teach, so much that they must learn! Maybe during this down time of summer we can reflect on what slow really means….
So what to do? Really, this work is about putting the mind in service to the heart and it is no easy task. Isn’t school supposed to happen in the mind? Isn’t that what we are training? I say no. It is a great thing to realize that this CI approach to teaching is firmly rooted in the heart. It is rooted in happiness and trust, which live in the heart, and are often missing in schools, where mistrust, sadness and a kind of mental hurt exist except in the hallways, and rarely even there. I tried to run the heart thing by Krashen once and he didn’t go for it. Fine. But it is nevertheless true in my own CI world.
If the CI approach is really a thing of the heart, and not so much the mind, how do we get the mind to serve the heart in our classrooms and not the other way around? One thing is that we need to learn how to breathe when we teach. We have to become aware of our bodies, and not as actors, but just because we live in them when we work. And we have to turn our attention to the kids in the real way, and we must listen to them with our hearts if we are to really reach them, if we are really to slow down in the real way.
Stay with your targets, yes. Never say a single sentence or ask a single question without one or more of your targets in it. Remember, you are teaching the targets as the core of that lesson. You have already taught every other word you use in your lesson, remember? But what would be so weird about forgiving ourselves for not being the best language teacher in the world? What would be so hard in stopping our repeated efforts to get approval from every one in our buildings? They can’t give us what we want. As Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
So stay with your targets but center your instruction in your heart. Here is a secret: explore the words with your students. Explore them. How do they taste? Some are delicious, and should be eaten slowly. The kids don’t mind – the slower you go, the more of your beloved language you taste with them in class, the more they understand and the more neurology is established in their minds for future output.