Email from a Colleague

I got this from a colleague and group member today:
Hi Ben,
I need to cancel my membership to your blog. It’s nothing personal, but I’ve decided to leave teaching after this year.
Thank you for all of your support and thoughtful discussions. I really admire what you do.  I wish I were strong enough to do it, but this profession is killing me.  I’ll keep rooting CI on from the sidelines.
Thanks again,
(name redacted)



18 thoughts on “Email from a Colleague”

  1. When I finished reading this letter, I felt as if I had been kicked in the gut. It is a letter that (maybe?) most of us have been close to writing at one time or another. It is a letter that I hope to never write. I guess it’s better to leave a profession that doesn’t make one happy, especially when it is the teaching profession. Eventually, the bad vibes flow over into the classroom which is no good.
    I wish this person much success and hope that they find what it is that makes them happy. I wish this person would have tried TPRS for longer. The letter scares me because, for the last 2 yrs, I have wondered about the halls of my school just wondering what life boat would come along and save me from myself. I feel like I’ve had a sip of the TPRS cool aid because NOW people I have relied on for guidance do not seem to know as much as I had thought. This sounds so pompous but all of the research on TPRS and why it works point to very specific ways people learn language…
    A letter like this just scares me. If it doesn’t work in my life, it’s not for lack of trying.

  2. That letter makes me sad…and makes me wonder what makes any of us “strong enough”? Do we need a combination of inner strength and outer support?
    “A lifeboat to save me from myself.” Beautifully written, Jennifer.

  3. I originally intended this blog to be a blog of one, a place just for me to vent and think. Then you all showed up. My heart was lifted. Now, Jennifer, I agree that it is no less than a kick in the stomach to lose this person from our group. Think what she has been going through and think of who has been putting her through it, what idiots around her taking shots at her every day, I would think. Certainly, her situation was untenable. Now do you see why I want bios, avatars, names of schools, cities? This letter proves something.

  4. Wow! I am really sad for this person. It must be really tough to make that kind of decision after all of the hard work it takes to become a teacher. In the long run it is a better decision than to stay and be miserable. On a lighter note, I came home today feeling lighter and less stressed after a wonderful week of trying to implement more and more TPRS into my day. I have assigned 10 jobs to students who are eager to participate and the pagame system is working well. I have found that I can get them to stop the English side chats and hollering out if I put the timer on for 15 minutes at a time. Then I give them a 2 minute English break and we’re right back at it. At first I had to give out about 5 pagames…the quiet kids loved that 🙂 Then, it was a ton of fun getting the hand-shakes and compliments. The kids are really starting to buy into all of it. Thank you all for your ideas and wonderful support!

  5. Ben,
    I immediately wanted to know who it was. Would that be in keeping with what you are trying to create here? If I got word that someone in my family were “hurting” but couldn’t know who, that would be very difficult. I just want to reach out to this person and send words of encouragement and support. And I do!
    I realize that I do not know who the person is or what the situation is. I can’t help but feel, however, that with TPRS, and time, and work, and the folks on this blog to encourage and advise s/he could ” make it.”
    Who would have thought that it would take me 19 years to come to a point where I KNOW that teaching is what I was meant to do. I honestly owe that to the TPRS community. So many here have one by one, word by word, suggestion enabled me to become more effective as an educator. I honestly regret that it came SO late in my career. THE POINT OF THE RAMBLE is that if I had quit all the times that I came so close, I would have been robbed of the wonderful experience of having it all click and feeling such satisfaction.
    I wish this person the very best and NO regret.
    I thank yet again all of the folks that have been so generous with their time and expertise and have been so helpful in enabling me to know the true joy of teaching a second language!

    1. It was a person relatively new to the method and very quiet here. Trying to talk her out of it doesn’t seem to apply here. It’s a private decision and the only reason I posted it here was to point again to the absolute difficulty of what we do, as we try so hard against such opposition from kids and colleagues to launch something brand new. My guess is that she was in one of those schools where the status quo of doing things a certain way was just so strong, and she probably had enough talent to make people uncomfortable, one of those schools where the kids and the teachers sometimes speak from one mouth, in this case a mouth speaking from ignorance of what is possible, and it just beat here down. That is my guess. I don’t imagine she had much day to day support from anyone. Maybe with more support, it might be different. But we have to respect. It’s a loss for our side, that’s for sure. I’m glad I published it here. It feels honest to do that.

  6. You all amaze me! Each time I come to this blog I am blown away by the passion, dedication, intensity of working with cutting edge research and striving for quality that you display. Many of you I’ve met face-to-face. I see your eyes on fire and your open hearts working to meet students and open their hearts and alight their minds.
    This week I went to the teacher planning meeting and saw what the core teachers are struggling with as they “race to the top” and answer teacher assessment questions. While I know that having our new principal who has come from our ranks coming in is a wonderful thing in a school like ours–we are moving farther and farther from our original vision 13 years ago of being hands on and dynamic. If I don’t offer alternatives to English in my after school, it isn’t going to happen. We don’t have the time or the money in the day school.
    There seems to be no way to get around the legislated bureacracy. I understand why someone would quit teaching. The demands on teachers for all kinds of accountability in a magnitude of ways for the money paid is disheartening. Most of us didn’t go into education to make money to begin with, but it does help not to have to take a second job to put food on our tables. And who has time with the demands? So, I get why. But at the same time I am so sorry for the decision.
    I am angry that someone who comes through the door each day to share their passion for a language has lost their drive. Not at them but the circumstances that forced them to make the decision in the first place.
    I am angry that legislation and administrative concerns outweigh greeting students with a heart that says, “come in–let’s get to know one another as humans and share our knowledge.”
    I am sad, deeply sad that there is not safety for those folks whose children are entrusted each day to keep safe and help learn.
    But, I am hopeful. The year isn’t over. Hopefully by reading this blog and seeing that we all struggle with our own issues, she can take heart. Maybe quitting teaching isn’t the answer but leaving the situation she is in. I don’t know.
    I only know that here in this TPRS blog site (and Laurie’s) I feel safety to explore and admit teaching a language that I don’t even speak well myself. I don’t have to worry about student outcomes for report cards thank god! and hopefully while my students and I move towards fluency in the language spoken in this Red Hills of Tallahassee before the colonizers came we will be the stepping stones to bringing back in conversation the language originally heard in this bio-region we love and live in.

  7. I wrote the above email to Ben over a month ago. I had been beaten down for the last two years by colleagues, students, administration for following scientific research and best practices and using CI. I was told two weeks into the year that “… if this [CI] was my true passion, then I shouldn’t be [here].” That one sentence set the tone for a very difficult year; but I have learned a lot about myself, CI and the CI community through this whole ordeal, and I am so thankful for all of you and especially Ben’s support.
    A couple of weeks ago I had the awesome opportunity to see Ben in action again. I had seen him in a couple of workshops at NTPRS 2011, but this was even better than that. Seeing Ben interacting with his kids was a real treat. Seeing him made what he writes about in his blog and what he does in workshops really come to life.
    I learned so much from just that afternoon. I was rejuvenated and it re-instilled my faith in CI and what it can do for our students. I was so inspired by the power of the reading class I saw, that I went and attempted to re-create the same lesson in my own first year class the next day.
    It couldn’t have worked out better because we were working on some of the same vocabulary.
    We did the Anna Matava story “Don’t Drink the Water” and I changed it to “He Shouldn’t Drink the Water” to match the structures we were working with via our Realidades curriculum. My students responded great. They loved the reading being on the screen, the chance to just read and hear the Spanish then go back and translate and discuss, the fact that they were staring in the written story. It reminded me that reading is really powerful stuff.
    I am so thankful that I live in an area where CI is doing great things, where there are teachers embracing the method (even if it is not in my own school), where I can get support from internet acquaintances and complete strangers via online CI communities, and where students are the priority. Thank you (again) Ben and Diana for having me. It was a powerful afternoon, and just what I needed to see.

  8. Chris, I hope to find something in another school next year. Getting out and seeing what happens at another school was monumental for me. My current school is my first “real” teaching job, so I didn’t really know that things could be different in other schools. I had heard it could be, but I had to see it to really believe it.

  9. Maybe she will come to DPS and work with us. A quick note to Anon: Jason Fritze is here all day on 2/17 and you are invited. Annemarie, our group member here from Maine, will be in Denver and possibly visiting Spanish classes on 2/16 as well – the day before Jason’s workshop – and so you may wish to join her and me in those observations. Maybe take two days off from your current district for those two days. Anybody else reading this – of course Kevin and Kelly – who can get here for those two days is welcome to join us….

  10. Diana said I could invite from my group but we’re not putting it out to the big listserve. But pretty much anyone who wants should come. The weather should be pretty gnarly, it’s when Jenny came from Valdez, that time of year, pretty cold here. For you, probably balmy though. Have you worked with Jason before?

    1. I didn’t mean listserve, really, I meant this group. If the snow’s good then, it’s bad to travel (because skiing is fun), but if it’s bad, it’s a terrific time. Any other Alaskans on this list who’d like to split a companion fare? Really, I’m only half-joking…I love Jason, and I would love to see all of you.
      But WOW … the ijflt journal pointed the world at the pages with all the videos of you Denver teachers. What a great gift!

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