Educating Our Employers

Robert and Bryce recently made comments here about the idea that comprehension based teaching is not just another way to teach, but a vastly superior way. I would like to add to what they said here:
The Denver Public Schools has a team of 25 (of our 93) foreign language teachers called the TCI group (Teaching using Comprehensible Input). We do weekly or bi-weekly hosting and observing of each other in our classrooms to try to get better at comprehension based methods.
We meet for an hour before the class and for two hours after the class to process what we saw. We 25 trust each other enough to teach in front of each other for the most part, and it is fun to feel this energy in the district.
So, about a month ago, our leader Diana Noonan was in the Denver Public Schools district offices in a meeting with some highers up about CI. Some of the TCI members were there as well. At some point in this meeting, a pilot program project manager asked Diana a very telling question in response to the discussion that had been going on about CI:
So if a teacher was speaking in English 50% of the time (or more), explaining grammar and doing drills out of a textbook, would you say that this was not an effective teacher for second language acquisition?
When I asked her to say that to me again, Diana went on to tell me that she was “paraphrasing a bit, but the part about the English, teaching grammar and drills is a direct quote.”
So this is good news. People running school districts are starting to get that if we speak the language that we are teaching in our classrooms in ways that students would want to listen to it instead of wasting time in the useless activity of speaking to them using English, then it would lead to better results, results that would be connected to and indicative of real fluency, and not fake fluency as measured by bogus tests.
That is a start towards our goal, educating our employers.



3 thoughts on “Educating Our Employers”

  1. I had my summative evaluation with my principal last April and he remarked on the amount of in-servicing I had done and let me go on and on about CI. I even loaned him my copy of Ignite to tie in the brain-based research with storytelling. It took him long enough to observe me, but at the end of the period he said, “I think you are on to something!”

  2. Awesome…our administration is coming around over here too! Oh, and I am so glad to start my day off reading the blog again! All is right with the world.

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