Diana Update

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13 thoughts on “Diana Update”

  1. Congratulations, Diana. I was telling a colleague about how you get subs so teachers can observe each other. His response was, “Of course. Why wouldn’t you do that. That is what they do in other fields [observe to learn],” knowing full well that nobody we know does exactly that. The way he said those words, it just became so crystal clear. This idea is so obvious. Why isn’t everybody doing that.

    1. I too have been planting the seed with supervisors to spend department money on subs so teachers can observe each other. The seed did get tucked under the earth with at least one of my admin.
      It’s great to hear that Diana has been celebrated with such honor, especially after such a rough few weeks thinking her job was in jeopardy. I can imagine the sunset over those front-range mountains seen from the 14th floor of this indoor/outdoor event.

      1. …I can imagine the sunset over those front-range mountains seen from the 14th floor of this indoor/outdoor event….
        Sean it was so beautiful with no wind and a peaceful sky with a fading sun over the mountains and I felt as if I was in Oz. It was a night during which I was able to reflect how we in our profession are connected more than just professionally, and that in some way the work we are doing, as grinding as it is, has something in it that feels like real work, and not just going through the motions. When I was in South Carolina I had a dream that I was in a church and a woman turned around from the pew in front of me and said, “Go find your people!” And I was so guided. May we all have a Diana Noonan we can work for, who pushes away the doubters and makes it actually work so that we can work in dignity and not chaos! Right now I am experiencing some major gratitude for what DPS has done for me, if you can’t tell.

  2. Yes and I was able to share with the superintendent, and he really didn’t know, about what Diana has done to establish in DPS a model for reform nationwide. DPS is all about reform – it’s their favorite word. I’m glad that they figured out who Diana is for them. It really was a foolish thing that happened. Although a few letters like Harrell’s got through, which I share here simply because Robert wrote it and I like to read anything he writes on any topic:
    Dear Superintendent Boasberg:
    I am the Chair of the World Languages Department for Pacifica High School in Garden Grove, California.
    It has been my pleasure and privilege to learn from Diana Noonan about Best Practices in teaching World Languages. Over the years I have benefited greatly from her presentations at conferences and workshops. In addition, I have followed and been inspired by Ms Noonan’s work in teacher training at Denver Public Schools. Diana Noonan is one of those rare administrators who understands Second Language Acquisition as well as sound pedagogical practices. Even rarer is her ability to combine the two in a teacher training program that is the envy of world language teachers throughout the US and abroad. I, for one, have encouraged my district administrators to contact Ms Noonan so that we may benefit from wisdom and experience.
    Thus it came as quite a shock to learn that Ms Noonan’s position as World Languages Coordinator for Denver Public Schools has been posted as an open position. This can only mean that she has been let go. Ms Noonan’s knowledge, wisdom, expertise, and experience benefit teachers and students alike in an exceptional way, and her influence (and the reputation of DPS) extends far beyond the confines of the city of Denver or the state of Colorado. For the sake of what is truly best for students, I strongly encourage you to reconsider this action and retain Diana Noonan as Denver Public Schools’ World Languages Coordinator.
    Thank you for your attention to my request.
    Robert Harrell
    German Teacher
    World Languages Chair
    Pacifica High School

  3. Here’s the letter I wrote for Diana, since this is Diana Noonan Day on the blog:
    Dear Superintendent Boasberg and Chief of Schools Cordova:
    My name is Ben Slavic, a retired WL teacher from DPS, where I spent the best years of my long career because of the great DPS WL Languages Coordinator, Diana Noonan, who basically made my career. I understand she may not be allowed to continue in the new role of WL Content Specialist, and it grieves me.
    Diana Noonan has individually transformed hundreds of careers and we can do the math on how many students that is. For eleven years as DPS WL Coordinator she has been working tirelessly to transform the Denver Public Schools into the only major metro district in the country purely dedicated to comprehensible input, which is the only way of teaching languages that aligns with current best practices, current research, and is the way of the future, of reform, in language education in the United States, including ESL.
    Diana was responsible for the crucial WL Appendix to the DPS Leap Document which changed the way all administrators see and interpret (and therefore evaluate teachers in DPS) what foreign language teaching even looks like in DPS. That one document sets DPS World Languages apart from every other district in the country, and people know that and look to DPS, because of what Diana has done, as THE major metro district leading the way for the entire country in best WL practices – all because of Diana.
    Before taking over in Denver Diana was an AP French teacher at East High School for 20 years. Along with Carol Gaab she originated and runs one of the most important annual national conferences (iFLT) with Dr. Stephen Krashen and has done so for for five years now. She spends most of her summer months creating and organizing testing materials that align with the new way of teaching foreign languages.
    Diana is current president of CCFLT, our state organization, which shows that she fully walks the walk of traditional teaching and can and does explicate the differences between the new and the old with poise, intelligence, compassion and, most importantly, patience to anyone who asks. She was last year’s keynote speaker at NTPRS in Chicago.
    Diana established a CI teacher training program that will probably one day be the template for other districts around the country as they transfer over to this work in the next ten years. She started using Learning Labs, the only way to truly train CI teachers, and introduced the model for their use into the iFLT conference.
    Diana has earned honest and heartfelt friendship from many teachers. She has so far pulled two of the best of the best CI teachers in the United States to the Denver area – both from Chicago – namely Sabrina Janczak and Diane Neubauer who both say that they came here at least in part to work just to be around what Diana has created in reform-minded DPS.
    Diana has saved many careers by refusing to give up on struggling teachers by making them her highest priority, which is an amazing thing since most district organizers don’t know many of their teachers and don’t help them, don’t give them any meaningful help in fulfilling the demands of their jobs.
    Ben Slavic
    (now retired and so able to write long letters, formerly of East High and Lincoln High)

  4. Here is the one Mary Beth wrote:
    May 27, 2015
    Dear Superintendent Boasburg:
    I am a Spanish teacher in Biddeford, Maine. Our city has a very high poverty rate and many of the problems associated with city schools. It also has the lack of problems associated with affluent districts, as our city is located on the coast of Maine, and has children who reside in the high-priced coastal areas.
    I am writing to you on behalf of Diana Noonan, and to tell you what an impact she has had on my teaching and subsequently on the acquisition of a World Language by my diverse student population. I was introduced to Teaching with Comprehensible Input four years ago while my husband was rehabilitating from a stroke, which left him without speech or the ability to walk (at that time). I attended a TPRS workshop while he was in his first week of Rehab, and was astonished at how much French I was acquiring in the workshop – but more significantly, I was amazed that I was not worried or concerned about him because I was so caught up in the fun and laughter of a CI class! I immediately realized that if I could forget my problems while learning this way, then my students could forget the problems they have outside of the classroom! I was right – my students have been much happier and more successful.
    Teaching with comprehensible input is not an easy feat. It takes years of training and observations and feedback to be able to hone one’s skills. I have paid thousands of dollars out-of-pocket and through my district to attend trainings. I even went to Denver in February during my winter break to watch and observe DPS teachers in action, as they are known to be the “cream of the crop” of CI teachers. It is TRUE, from my observations. Those teachers had every single one of their students completely engaged in the lessons. (I also had an opportunity to observe non-CI teachers, and was embarrassed for them seeing the off-task behaviors of their students while the teacher was lecturing, and then followed up with grammar worksheets.)
    Diana Noonan is the reason for Denver’s worldwide reputation of being the best World Language teaching district in the world. I attended a couple of her trainings in Denver, and was impressed by her level of expertise and calm demeanor in providing feedback to the teachers of DPS. Diana’s role of World Language coordinator is a major asset to the Denver Public School system. In this time of needing to meet Standards of the 21st Century Learner, and becoming “globally aware,” students need to acquire a second language. Research has confirmed that comprehensible input is the best way for all to acquire a language; so why would you deny your students of this opportunity?
    Please keep Diana on as your World Language consultant to continue to train your teachers to deliver the best possible methods of teaching a WL to the children of Denver. It will make your students, your parents, and YOU happier (and save the district money in training costs).
    Respectfully yours,
    Mary Beth Tietgens, M.S.Ed
    Spanish Teacher

  5. Here is one from Tim Bennett –
    Dear Superintendent Boasberg:
    I have been a Spanish teacher for 24 years. Within the last year, I have become aware of the resources and best practices coming out of Denver Public Schools. DPS is inspiring teachers across the nation, and I am one of them. This year I even used some DPS-inspired documents that came from Ms. Noonan’s leadership.
    Please reconsider Diana Noonan’s non-employment. At this juncture of history in world language education in the United States, positive changes with ramifications for the future are occurring. DPS is a hot spot for passion and leadership for world language education. To overlook or ignore Diana Noonan’s impact on so many would be grievous. You all have an opportunity to continue to be a “city on a hill” as far as guiding others. Thank you for what you all have done so far and will continue to do in world language education not just locally, but nationally.
    Timothy P. Bennett
    Spanish teacher
    Southside High School
    Batesville, AR 72501

  6. I am totally overwhelmed by the massive outpouring of support by my teacher colleagues as well as those of you on this blog who were totally willing to advocate on my behalf with DPS. Even those who do not really know me or my work! As Ben said, it all worked out but I truly believe that the reason it was resolved in my favor had everything to do with “the village”. It is now such a cliche but it truly “takes a village” of individuals who have a passion in order to really create change which benefits teachers and most of all…students. My personal hero is Paul, who wrote to the superintendent and chief of schools asking for a formal meeting with WL teachers wanted to speak on my behalf regarding this position. He gathered a large group of teachers willing to attend this meeting. The day following this message to the super, there was an immediate response from my director who clarified the “rules”. No need to go into, but as Ben said… it all changed from that point forward. I know that some of your messages were also received by the superintendent and my director, in turn, received them. The Chief of Schools called me personally on my cell to say that she would support me and would do everything she could to keep me in DPS.
    The “village” spoke and they listened! Thank you!!!!!!!
    Last night was truly special and I’m still a bit dazed by it all. I wish I could have given Paul and Julie the day off today…but we all continued to work today…writing assessments which PROVE that teaching with CI WORKS!!!
    I am super excited to continue in this role in which my TOP PRIORITY is training teachers in the best practices of teaching with CI. I think DPS finally “gets it”, and if ever I have some sort of legacy it will be that no one questions us about what we know to be the best way to teach kids to acquire another language.
    Perhaps Van Patten and I should team up!
    My love to all and especially my dear friend Ben Slavic without whom I would not be SURE that what I’m doing has so much importance.

    1. That is true, Diana, that we (many of us) do not know you. But just to be fair, you do not know us either, but the work you have been doing is supporting us. Ten years ago it was easier for resisters to write off Blaine as some fad from some little Podunk place (and I live about 25 minutes from Podunk).
      In addition to having a grand experiment like what has happened in DPS, we can refer to 3 (inter)national conferences (including Agen), TPRS teachers at all levels of instruction, all types of instructional systems (public, private, country, suburban, urban), in several countries, penetrating ACTFL and state conferences, working for DLI and MLB.
      I just shared an article with Eric about using TPRS in Colombia for teaching EFL (English as a Foreign Language). Here it is:
      Thank you again, Diana, for your part in this synergistic effort. Team up w/VP…good idea…he knows something about research. Hmmm.

    2. A very well-deserved honor! Man, if I’d have been more present here lately and had known we were sending letters on Diana’s behalf, I’d have sent mine and included that if it hadn’t been for Diana teaching me French for 10 hours, 7 years ago, I doubt I’d be doing what I’m doing. And that is just scraping the surface of what Diana has done and will continue to do for DPS and the world (and I’m sure I don’t know the half of it). That sounds kind of cliche, but I think it’s totally accurate… the world is a much better place for language learners and teachers because of your work Diana.

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