Building Community – 6

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4 thoughts on “Building Community – 6”

  1. Jake Firestine

    I had a recent convo with a buddy of mine who teaches Spanish and mixes TPRS with literature and grammar. He’s a talented guy and a dedicated teacher. When we dove into the Invisibles/NTCI, he asked many of the usual questions: how do you assess them? How do you know they’re with you? What about units? What percentage of the TL are you in? How do you fit in this topic or that topic? etc. etc. When I mentioned to him that I’d spend time in class in English hanging out with my classes, he was surprised. I told him that building community and giving the students positive experiences with the language was my goal.

    I began reflecting that I no longer have much of a concern for hitting this concept or that concept. My main goal is to create moments. Moments of connection, of care, of humor, etc. all in the context of learning a language. We also talked about how to make something like The Invisibles work with students who weren’t familiar with that “style”, and he brought up the idea of having social capital and maximizing that. I reflected upon this last year, and I had no social capital in a new school, which was part of the reason I had so many behavior problems and very few (if that) students on my side. The whole year I was making deposits into my street cred. account and hopefully this year, I can start withdrawing from it. I also wonder if going into a new school implementing a full NTCI curriculum is a good idea. It would take a master teacher to have a smooth transition, especially assuming the teacher before probably did packets.

  2. I would very slowly implement the Star Chart in ten minute mini-lessons at the end of class, while doing exactly what they other teachers do for most of the class. I’m talking about in a setting where the other teachers use packets.

    I would not do an NTCI curriculum like the Ultimate CI books with kids who weren’t in level 1. I would teach them the old way, packets and all. Only try this work with beginning students. Not levels 2-5. Why? The pushback from the other levels is massive.

    Slowly over the course of the year I would give more and more time during class to the Invisibles, so that by the end of the year. A reasonable task when you are in a new school is to have your level one kids switched to only Cat. A by year’s end.

    That’s how you slowly change a school’s program, atan unnoticed and non-threatening slow pace, bc it’s not just the kids at levels 2-5 who will refuse it, but also the teachers. Main thing is to make the other teachers respect you bc you teach like them. Otherwise, unless you “fit in” first, it’ll be battles and backbiting all year long in the dep’t.

  3. Jake Firestine

    At least now the students know what to expect. I just had to go through the gauntlet for a year to figure that out :p If/when I switch schools, I’ll definitely be doing something like what you said above. Thankfully, I don’t have to deal with the backbiting being the only Spanish teacher, but I can definitely see that being an issue elsewhere.

  4. Go Jake! Build your community first. People are more willing to follow your lead when they get you are thinking about all of them and not just what the admin. requires.

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