To Clarice – 3

Just rambling on about those drowning moments. It’s like just letting the snow plow keep on plowing in spite of the big drifts it occasionally has to plow up against. It may slow down a little but it just keeps on plowing. The snow – the kids – know next to nothing of the extra stress on the engine. Such are those moments of drowning.
I actually plowed through the PQA a number of times yesterday. After the fourth and fifth straight PQA class things get a bit tedious and we just soldier on. We are not entertainers we just want reps.
Try spending an entire day with the same structures trying to get interested in a bunch of siliness with 180 kids in the name of more reps. High drowning by being bored potential right there for us unless we fluff up the PQA! (I still insist on using the same structures and stories for both levels of French that I teach – easier planning and execution – only one prep!)
But here’s the thing – the kids don’t notice.  They are sitting there trying, at various levels and in various ways, to decode the sounds that they are hearing and make sense out of them. That’s it.
They are working so much much harder than they look in a part of their brain that has no previous job experience except in your classroom so they don’t notice what we are experiencing.
I know that when I get pulled down into a What The Hell Do I Do Now? whirlpool, I simply allow myself in those long empty moments to soften – if you know the work of Steven and Ondrea Levine that is what I am talking about that. Softening.
I just soften into the fact that I am there in an insane situation – an American classroom – which is not normal at all but a freaky creation of a society gone somewhat boinky with the idea that one can stick thirty-five or fifty or sixty (God bless our colleagues in Detroit and LA!) kids of infinitely varying interests and abilities into one classroom and actually teach them anything.



3 thoughts on “To Clarice – 3”

  1. I don’t know the work of the Levines, but I do know a bit about yoga (enough to get myself in trouble!) — there, what I understand of “softening” is that when it hurts or you’re likely to be pushing yourself, “soften” means to relax into the pose. With my adult classes, I find that it’s easy to soften. I don’t stress when things are slow, because adults don’t need everything to be jazzy. They just like good teaching. With them, I have learned the lesson of softening, because that’s when good stuff emerges. I can relax and not worry how it’s going. It’s very interesting to take that exact feeling back into the high school classroom and remember that when I feel most like I’m drowning, I’m still on solid ground with the method and that something will come along to save me. I can always switch to having the kids write, or do a parallel story, or have a superstar change perspective, or write the story together (and then embellish it together–having told them it’s a bit boring), or go to a dictation. I just have to remember that those options are there. I can also pull out an actor, a prop (visible or not–thanks, Laurie), or set up an artist with the portable white board. In the midst of the drowning feeling, it’s easy to forget we have options! I tend to keep stiffly holding onto the same pose and forget to soften and let new ideas creep in.

  2. Beautiful Michele ma belle!! Yoga and TPRS align again. As Brian Barabe reminded me….in yoga and in TPRS (and in life) …You are where you are meant to be….acknowledge it, embrace it, go with it . Soften into the moment….
    with love,

  3. Beautifully said, oh Metaphoric Michelle.
    You remind us that when we take the time to stuff our CI bag with well-honed skills, those developing skills serve as a cushioned bolster on our sticky mat where we can go slowly, soften, breathe, relax, and be patient with ourselves through this amazing process.
    It’s a lot harder to do on a cold, bare, slippery floor. You can do it–but with a lot more grip and struggle to keep your balance.

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