Building Community – 2

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12 thoughts on “Building Community – 2”

  1. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    OMG I finally saw the Mr. Rogers movie last night (rent it from your library). We have so much to (re-)learn from Mr. Rogers. It’s a moving and deep exploration of what can only be described as radical thinking for the time. There’s a moment when the narrator talks about the silent moments in his show, his slow and relaxed delivery, low-tech production values – emphasis on hi-esteem for real communication…
    It’s a ray of sunlight in a gray dreary winter…

    1. A point is made in that video about how Fred Rogers would wait on people instead of filling the silence, even when it was his turn to speak. Wait time. We don’t do that much. I called the wait time thing “Staying in the Moment” in one of my books.

      Waiting and letting both speaker and listener feel the silence and not have to fill it is a master level skill in what we do certainly. What a break it gives to the deeper mind! All we have to do is have the courage not to fill the silence with more babble. Nice description of Mr. Rogers’ speech patterns Alisa.

      I posted an article from the archives on his speech speed.

  2. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Something else I just want to (re) mention about shame & building community is that when there’s an outta control vibe in the classroom or building and the teacher responds with negativity, then the insulted students respond in kind, setting off a tailspin of insult and injury. This is a difficult cycle to break but no content or curriculum can proceed until there is clear authority and dignity for the T and community members…
    I have been observed in such a setting. I was invited to do a demo lesson in such a setting. I had nightmares about it afterwards. But hard as it seems, peace, empathy and respect can and must be established, or the whole year is wasted. It takes time, optimism, nerves of steel & a plan.

    1. …no content or curriculum can proceed until there is clear authority and dignity for the teacher and community members….

      Yes but in this series of articles it is important to me to also convey the reverse idea that authority of the teacher and dignity for the students is only possible through the right curriculum, something along the lines of what Mr. Rogers crafted.

      This is such a magnificent topic. Why? Because we kvetch and complain all day about how our buildings suck, but we never consciously go about implementing the kind of curriculum that alone can raise the vibe in our classrooms so that it can leak into the hallways and change things.

      But my first point is this – we figure out how to teach well so that students are engaged and then we can sit back and watch as the dignity splashes all over the walls of our classrooms, in the drawings of the Invisibles we make. Sounds a bit looney but makes perfect sense to me.

      Great curriculum first, dignity and authority later.

    2. Alisa said:

      …I was invited to do a demo lesson in such a setting. I had nightmares about it afterwards….

      This is the stuff of nightmares. We’ve all either been there or we’ve been lucky enough to teach in Shangri La (doesn’t exist). I just had another cauchemar, this one over two years since I was in a classroom. (Newsflash! They don’t go away when you retire!)

      When I awoke and realized it was a very bad dream full of, you guessed it, really rude kids, I had a visceral reaction of wanting to create an entirely new way of doing classroom management with the little darlings.

      I’m not talking about Fred Jones or Molly Meanwell here. I respect Jones but we need something more specific to language classes, less generic, something connected to what we do in our more participatory instructional settings.

      I know full well that my new as-yet-unannounced position on classroom management will never get past a school board, so there is that to consider but I am writing this new book for my own mental health and sense of self-respect bc SOMEONE has to show up as the adult in our schools SOMETIME SOON. Or the bullies will win.

      I will share my new ideas on classroom management here this spring after I finish another more important book I’m working on. It’s not like what I wrote about Mildred, for those who know that articles from years ago that Blaine always quoted at conferences.

  3. Hi Ben, By the way you can disregard that last e-mail I sent to you. I will open up the discussion here so everyone can benefit (I am asking blog members to please keep this private):

    So my school did student based surveys that give scores of teachers this year (we are told that this is not going to be evaluative just informative). You can check out the company here:

    They did this at the end of last semester. We just got the results over break. Feedback comments (all anonymous) included untruths, nasty youtube like comments, and low percentages on things like “student engagement” (Even though 85% of students said I am always excited to teach the class). There were questions such as “If you walked into the room upset would your teacher care?” which teachers got low scores on.

    After seeing the results I went through at least 3 days of having serious thoughts of getting out of teaching and I’m somewhat recovered now but I still am not going back to school tomorrow excited to be there. I found out today (an institute day) that many other teachers (language teachers and non-language teachers) felt exactly the same way. As many know I have spent a lot of time and personal finances getting into CI but when one receives such negativity the question does pop in your mind “Why bother?” If the teacher who teaches with the textbook gets low scores and the CI teacher does too, why bother?

    I have spoken my mind to my admin about how these surveys need to be modified to be useful, because I’m afraid they are here to stay. (They respect me and CI so maybe they will listen, but I am just afraid that education is going in this direction-teacher shaming).

    1. Oh dear Greg, it hurts to read this. I also feel this discouraging heaviness, even without the surveys, but having to read something like that must be so painful. I’m sorry. Thank you for sharing here, to shed some light into that darkness.

      I drove home in tears myself tonight, so you are not alone. This is freaking hard!

  4. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I think the anonymous teacher voting is sickening.

    It’s a way for students to anonymously project their own negative emotions – anxiety, blame, stress – on us. I wonder what kind of a score their own parents would (anonymously) get?

    We have SOOOOOOO lost our way…

  5. If you want to explore shame, I would highly suggest digging into Brene Brown a leader in pulling out from that self imposed critic sitting on so many people’s chests, even those we think of as confident.

    A little tool she uses a permission slip that each person makes for themself that acknowledges they are not perfect, won’t ever be and it is okay to make mistakes. In fact that is often where the learning sticks. She has you write on your hand I am not perfect, I am good enough. This helps reinforce you are where you are and that is good enough to keep going and getting better.

    The problem with youth is that it is fueled by short term experience with high expectations. No one really believes in trusting the path of longevity. It all has to happen now or it never will.

  6. Yes, I have to keep reminding myself of the actual number of hours of listening to uninterrupted language are required to get the unconcious juiced up enough that it can take down deep what it has heard and make meaning. Posting those factoids in our faces would help us and any parent, student or admin to realize just how long it takes for fluent understanding not to mention actual speaking.

    Here is to having realitic expectations of what we can actually ask our students to hopefully accomplish this year. And here is to having celebrations for every tiny step they baby walk towards it.

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