Building Community/Kate Taluga

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11 thoughts on “Building Community/Kate Taluga”

  1. frank james johnson

    Here the best meaning of “sans détour” is not “endless”. It is “without beating about the bush”. This “un bavardage sans détour” is thus “freely flowing, openhearted speech”, which can only best take place between friends. For a language acquisition class, this implies the importance of building a strong overall feeling of classroom community. That feeling and compellingly interesting communication are correlative.

    1. frank james johnson

      I should have written “freely flowing, openhearted speech AND RELATED COMMUNICATIVE INTERACTION”. That last part takes into account that we should not expect much speech from students at the beginner level.

  2. Good Lord Frank I’m speechless. I have been living with that Stendhal quote close to my heart for 50 years and now you go and tie it down for me even more precisely. Thank you, brother!

  3. Frank –

    On your question about my webinars on Teacher’s Discovery, I don’t know where they are located either, but I have something far better for you. Today I am meeting, as I do each Monday through Wednesday, with a recently-formed Zoom group of select teachers who REALLY GET WHAT THE STRUGGLE IS ALL ABOUT AND WHAT IN THE HELL WE ARE DOING IN THIS LANGUAGE TEACHING GAME. It’s time for you to join us.

    I compare the whole thing to The Lord of the Rings. I won’t go into it, simply because I don’t have time (I could write a book about it), but you are going to have to trust me on this one and at least check us out today to find out what we are about. Deal? Trust me. See you at 1:00 p.m. Chicago time. You don’t know it yet, but you are and have always been in the struggle. Actually, you do know it. You ride a horse. You are a Rider of Rohan.

    Confused? Don’t be. It sounds crazy but it’s not. We are in a battle. We need you. See you in a few hours.

  4. You will receive the invitation in the next ten minutes.

    (Are you wearing a hat? If you are, hold on to it with both hands. We’re about to experience gale force winds, winds of far greater intensity than those you already know about in the Windy City, in that place where there are true heroes teaching languages right now, in that hot spot for change in language education that is Chicago.)

  5. Frank both email addresses I’ve tried have bounced back to me, even though I have received yours – never heard of that. Can you text me the right address? Is it not

    Just to be safe, I am putting the Zoom invite here along with the notes for today’s meeting. We can figure the email thing out later. There is also the need to get you the book so you can read about today’s class – it will make a difference. So get me some kind of address so I can get the book to you.

    Come to think about it, I used to have problems w your email address like 15 years ago.

    Here is stuff I want you to know, plus the invite:

    Ben Slavic is inviting you to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

    Topic: Invisibles Zoom Mtg. – 7 – Cat. A
    Time: Jun 8, 2020 12:00 PM Mountain Time (US and Canada)

    Join Zoom Meeting

    Meeting ID: 754 359 2676
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    Notes for this meeting:

    More heads up points to make for next week.
    1. Good news about the book. It’s not so big. I am cutting it down to address only Category A. it’s just about finished. The book will eventually be published as six books, one for each category, thus dismantling the monster. Soon the Category A work, the subject of our Zoom meetings, will be available. When I send it out to the group, I would appreciate some help with proofing and editing. The main thing is to make the Category A process crystal clear. Thank you in advance.

    1. Tuesday’s class will be a two-hour French lesson where I go around the star, perhaps doing more than one card. No English at all, since the class, which will hopefully happen each week on Tuesdays at noon, is being created to honor the request of that person I told you about last week in NYC.

    2. This will necessitate our moving down from three training classes where I demo and coach those wanting to work to just two – the Monday and Wednesday 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time classes.

    3. It amounts to the same thing, except that the Tues. class will have a different goal.

    4. Since one of my goals with this Zoom project is to share my approach with the Invisibles and the Star with as many teachers as I can – because I personally see what we are doing as tremendously important work esp. in terms of COVID and online teaching – I need to ask the group members, as we move forward, to make sure that, in each session, if they don’t want their image shared in the training videos some of which I will eventually put up on my site, possible for sale although at present I’m not thinking of doing that, to be sure to attend the class without your image visible. I think you can hide yourself altogether where even your name isn’t visible.

    However, that could pull down the quality of the class if I can’t see my “students” – since I demo real time assessment techniques which viewers need to see. So please consider “showing up” for class in full force so we can really show off the power of this approach to those who watch the videos.

    I am already indebted to Sara and Danielle whose work during classes last week really helped in the area of showing how to assess and to draw (we have our artist!) and of course Jesus whose excellent work last week has powered us forward into a real community, which is the key to the whole things. Thanks to others who have been attending and helping.

    If you have not been attending, please let me know. I need to make space for others. The train, though, has pulled out of the station with this particular class and soon we’ll be moving along to deeper things, so do let me know if you can’t make the trainings. You all know how it feels when students don’t attend class every day. it’s the same with us.

    So if I see your image in the classes starting on Monday, I’m assuming you are ok with my request to use that footage in future in whatever I end up doing with it.

  6. So I have been reading The Book. It is a hard online read. However despite being cumbersome on my limited technology, I think breaking into sections focused on each branch of the star is a really great idea.

    One section i would like to see expanded is the job aspect. In building classroom communities, everyone having a job is essential. See Dr. Becky Bailey’s fine work called Conscious Displine which is not about controlling students but building relationships within a classroom where everyone is seen, listened to, and affirmed. A key component is the job.

    When each of us has a part to play in the classroom from bleater to artist, we all buy into the responsibility of communicating respectfully and learn how to actually communicate with each other to get things done. I have always seen my job not as the after school director keeping children safe, but rather the person concerned with helping students develop into good citizens of the world.

    Yes, you are teaching languages but isn’t that just a cover for teaching communication skills and how to be in conversation with others? That I feel is the crux of the class. I know they aren’t tested on that. Heck no one got tested in FL this year due to the jump to online. The union is working hard at lobbying that next year gets a pass too. There is just too much to figure out.

    So I encourage you not to lose sight of having everyone on board with a meaningful job in your classroom. You have a super fine start with the 18 there are already. Wouldn’t it be lovely if class numbers were smaller die to social distancing? There is a pipe dream.


  7. The Cat. A book is just about done. With sections on how to use it in online classes.

    You ARE the jobs guru. Years ago somewhere in this space I had posted 65 jobs and 40 were made up by you. I have 17 in this system. Can’t think of anymore, but that’s half the class, so it’s a police force – in the good sense of a peace force – against those who have trouble behaving.

  8. Kate said:

    …you are teaching languages but isn’t that just a cover for teaching communication skills and how to be in conversation with others?….

    This is sentence #6 for the June Best Sentence of the Month competition. I think Kate is going to win, since all six comments in the competition are by her.

  9. You have referred to your 17 job holders as your police/peace force. I am proposing that you rethink how you see discipline in the classroom. Behavior is an issue when students are disconnected to their teachers and peers. And it is difficult to reach out to folks who just want to disappear or create havoc. That is why everyone has a meaningful job. If everyone has to be responsible, everyone is seen as important in the community. And no one holds their job except you for a year. That way folks get to move around and try out different roles within the classroom. All are working together to MANAGE the climate of the classroom as a safe place to learn. Because we all know students do not learn if they do not feel safe.

    Remember in some children’s and adult’s lives havoc is safe. They know how to survive in that chaos. They often do not know how to survive or what will be exposed and vulnerable in a classroom setting where they are being taught material they must take for that all important tcket to college and out of high school. They don’t even want to learn French or Latin or Mvskoke for goodness sake. When will they ever use that crap? They do not see themselves visiting Paris and wanting McDonalds fries. Which is why teaching through conversation is so crucial.

    So the force in your room should continue to be love. There are only two emotions fear and love say the experts. All other emotions rise from those two in varying degrees.

    In this time of choas, providing an hour of consistency is crucial. Even if the material you are presenting will automatically throw them immediately into the survival mode of their brain. That is why they act up and out. No one wants to be in the survival state for long. So you dear teacher are compelled to channel your inner Mr. Rogers and teach SLOWLY with LOVE and Compassion each word, one at a time. Yes, the conversation has to be compelling. Not necessarily cute or funny. Where students get to create the conversation in the way of the past has been to make it about charcters like themselves about interests we see in general, sports, the cute person, etc.

    I think you will find they are more interested in discussing current events. That becomes very difficult in the classroom because it automatically will raise emotions and ire. But trend on is al about questioning authority is it not? You can have a conversation about the young folks going to Mars and wondering about their impact environmentally on the planet. Or you can have the discussion about building a pipeline through the neighborhood and how those folks think.

    Your challenge in all this as a teacher is to moderate your own opinions and thoughts as you facilitate the discussion that is taking place as they learn and think in a language they have never thought in.

    Connection to the culture should be very interesting online. Pen pals can exist in a totally new way. The possibilities for a brave new world are endless.

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