Circling – 1

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3 thoughts on “Circling – 1”

  1. At our recent t/CI Chicagoland meeting we did a lil coaching exploration, and got treated to a few colleague’s different circling styles. There were loud/extroverted/expressive varieties, chilled out relaxed circlers, serious, playful and intense folks- you name it! As we learned about coaching protocol through the generosity of these brave guinea pigs, it was a clear reminder to many of us, who are soldiers on the front line with precious few opportunities to watch others at their craft, how much we are doing while we circle!!
    We are trying to get reps (job #1), monitor general and individual comprehension, improvise interesting questions, intuit a direction for the discourse, watch the clock, pick up on fidgety fussing/need for movement/brain breaks, check for comp, deal with blurting and side talk, monitor the barometer(s), insert the props/visuals, stay cool/patient, manipulate the tech (toggle doc cam and computer screen projection), monitor comings and goings for bathroom, Suzuki lessons, Speech,…and the list goes on!! (Señora, can I have a band-aid?)
    Especially at the beginning of one’s T/CI journey, circling seems so daunting! It was so helpful for me to learn that it’s all about getting the repetitions, and that the actual structure of the circling did not really matter. Teaching an intense schedule, 39x 1/2 hour classes per week, really provided the practice for me to hone my circling skills and experiment with incorporating PQA, pictures, books, props and acting into the circling itself. I think many new teachers get caught up on the order of the questions rather than just trying to form utterances that maximize target structure reps. Sufficient modeling, watching demo videos, and observing masterful teachers as they circle is so instructive. Looking back at my initial training, it was hard for me to learn about it and practice doing it all within the same weekend. It might’ve helped me to have a circling rubric where I counted/tallied reps during the demo; circling on my own was like forced output.

    1. Alisa, I agree with your comments about trying to circle early in training was like forced output and likewise made me very uncomfortable. It’s tough. You want people to be able to do something after training, but this kind of skill takes time to develop. Just the mindset to be ready to do it takes time to develop. Then in front of others on your first tries – whew.
      I like the idea of tallying reps on a target structure during a demo; I have been planning to incorporate that into training later this year. I would ask only someone who knows the target language being demo’d to be the one who tallies. I think that at the end of the demo, having that target language speaker reveal how many reps occurred (or perhaps, how many questions were asked) would be an eye-opener for those participating without knowing the target language. I think those new to the language will be so focused on meaning and replying that they won’t have noticed the reps. And the target language speaker will be helped to see how many reps his/her colleagues needed, and how they felt about getting those reps. (Probably much more positive than the TL speaker expects, because those reps seemed perhaps boring and easy to him/her.)

  2. Circling for me is part of my craft which I am constantly honing. It’s worth the time it takes to develop it, but plan on a long, slow learning curve. I scripted everything at first (or read from Blaine’s scripts) which helped a lot.
    It also helped when Ben said something about needing the room to be absolutely silent. No side chatter, it’s really distracting and we do have so much going on in our heads at one time, as Alisa so accurately described.
    Also: I don’t proceed unless I get a strong and accurate response, and I tell my students this at least 1-2x a day. They try to float by and opt out. I don’t allow opting out, so I park and repeat and they quickly get the message and respond much stronger.
    Last idea: I bought three clicker counters and gave them to students, with an index card with the structure they were counting, and they were happy to click away. Useful for me to see how I’d done. Cheap on eBay.

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