Friday Celebration

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5 thoughts on “Friday Celebration”

  1. Congratulations! This is wonderful!!! What a way to go into the weekend. Those are the moments that make it all worthwhile and that tell us that we are doing the right thing. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Susan VanBronkhorst

    Thank you Kate! I’m delighted to hear about a third grade classroom because I teach little ones too and I haven’t usually done open-ended stories with them. It sounds like you are following Hola Niños because my kids know all the same words and your story makes me think– that could be my class!
    I’m wondering more about how you do the timing thing– are the students aware of how they are doing– how many minutes they have stayed in the target language?

  3. I’m so so so so happy for you!!!!! Just like acquisition, you cannot force this to happen. You have to be in the right place, with open heart AND comfortable enough with the PQA and storytelling process for it to “fall out”. I know that we have traditionally called these “home runs” and that, somehow, that implied that the teacher “hit it out of the park” by doing something right. It has made us feel that on other days we are falling short. (yeah, like what major league player hits home runs every at bat!!??!!) But here is my theory….
    These moments are a GIFT. We don’t receive them all the time so that we can realize that they are a wondrous and a bit miraculous. But they are a GIFT, from God (or the universe or whatever you prefer) that WE ALLOWED OURSELVES AND OUR STUDENTS TO RECEIVE by being totally focused on our students so that we stay with a topic close to their hearts and staying totally in bounds and by going slowly and thoroughly AND enjoying every minute of it as it happens.
    So glad that it happened to you. Be ready…it will be happening again.
    with love,

  4. You know that the heart quality is what really drives this method, Laurie, and, among the TPRS community, you define it best in your posts and on your Hearts for Teaching site. Krashen doesn’t. But just because it (the heart quality) is not something that can be researched or quantified doesn’t mean that it plays a major role in acquisition.
    The method is really about letting go of the need to control (mental) and letting gifts in (heart). I hear you saying – and I fully agree with you – that those rare classes are in true fact not home runs at all as much as they are gifts, an arrival of something into the classroom that is of kindness, of softness, of a certain kind of peace that people forgot existed, especially now amidst the data tsunami.
    But we will all see more and more of this quality of permission-giving with children – we give them permission to be a part of, and not just an observor of, the process as people like Kate do more and more of this kind of brave work, this letting go work and trusting work that language will happen.
    What Kate describes, to echo what you said, just kind of happened because she as the teaching artist was able to get out of the way and let the kids come to life in those 25 minutes.
    This is exactly what Jody does, though I have never been in her classroom – we have talked online for so many years that I know this. I would suggest that Kate must have in particular been expertly modeling SLOW, in particular, in this most wonderfully described class. Otherwise, she would have lost the kids.
    So let’s look at what Jody wrote about SLOW once a few years ago here. It is one of the all time most important things I have read about this method, because it takes SLOW to a level that is way beyond just going slowly – it takes it into the area that Laurie describes in her second paragraph above, about real teaching being a gift that we consciously experience as long as we are willing to put our need to control everything out in the hallway before teaching each class.
    Here is that post by Jody:
    Jody on SLOW 2 – October 17, 2008
    I have always really gotten the John Wooden thing (love him) – quick, but don’t hurry – move the story along, don’t get bogged down in details, ignoring structure, etc.
    However, I am having an absolutely transformative experience around “speaking very slowly” and “pause and point” this year. Truly slowing down brought up so much anxiety and fear about “my fast kids – a completely relative term with beginners”, that I really never did it consistently. I THOUGHT I was doing it – ha. right. If you truly get SLOW then you don’t give a thought to much else. It is a state of being and it goes more purely to a more pure story, a more honest story, one that sounds like English to the kids, and TPRS is bumped up to a fine level, a pure level. Not the Pure Land, which only is an affair of moments, but close.
    I have forced myself to take the challenge and the result has been thoroughly counter-intuitively positive. It is a no-brainer to understand that my slower kids would benefit from me slowing down my speech, but the excitement of my fast kids is what has me completely surprised and enthused. They are engaged as they never have been before. The whole class swells and surges together – the Pacific Ocean on a tranquil, sunny day. I have been doing it with all of my classes, at first, thinking that it was just that specific group of kids who was responding. Well, I have six classes – we are talking home run in all of them. I am going to keep at it and see what happens.

    Jody also wrote the following that is related to the above:
    I often return to my own adult experience with Donna Tatum at Nationals in my first ever French class. It was a class of over 100 students. Insane. I sat in the very first row, right in the center, and hung on for dear life.
    She could NEVER go slowly enough for me (and I am a highly motivated, highly educated, language-savvy student). After 20 minutes, I was often completely saturated and could barely go on. My brain became fatigued and I could not hold all of the new (let alone the old) material all in my head at the same time. I know she was going slow–but not slow enough for me, believe me.
    I, too, was embarrassed to be the slow one in class. I had to keep giving myself the “don’t worry, you’ll get better” pep talk. I don’t think my students know how to do that. Instead, they zone out, permit themselves to become totally distracted, and are not even aware of how much goes over their heads.
    Your comment on “home run” [My Definitions, November 2nd, 2008] really hit home (hello, redundancy). If my slow guys tell me they understand EVERY word–which means I am speaking very slowly and checking for comprehension constantly, I am really doing it, aren’t I? It really is all there is.
    The bonus is: those simple, slow stories end up being the best for my students. Everyone feels calm, confident, smart, and able–including me, the teacher.:

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