Get Your Bios in by December 1st

I was told by someone that this group is probably the most radical of those who practice TPRS because they are willing to pay for the training. I tend to agree with that assessment. The idea of a radical group is attractive to me. We should get “TPRS Commando” hats and wear them around. To master this stuff, you kind of have to be all in, because half way in means bad teaching. It’s just that way with comprehensible input.
The biggest harm to Krashen’s and Blaine’s reputations hasn’t been done by researchers whose hearts are closed and minds are too open, it has been done by people who misrepresent the method, sometimes comically, in their classrooms, while claiming all along to be doing the method as it was intended.
What are people to think when they walk into an out of control classroom with two kids pretending to be lions under a tree rolling and laughing around on the floor while nobody is focused on the teacher’s use of the target language? (This actually happened). The radical committment to follow the rules, make the phone calles, and make the method really work has to be there.
Now, re: the bios, it occurred to me that when you don’t send one in, your are not following rule #6, Do Your 50%. If this site is a classroom, there will naturally be quiet students, and that is fine, but I feel that to get the true spirit of what I want going here, most of us need to do show up for the discussion and take a risk and show up more. I am not talking about new people who just want to learn by reading and studying video footage.
Ultimately, the success of our learning here will come from more active participation by more people and the willingness to appear vulnerable and just be honest. That is why I feel great that the group size today is more than 60% smaller than it was yesterday. We just need to be more willing to put our butts on the line with video and active comments. So I invite you to do your half on this blog site.
That means get your bios in. The need for bios is becoming more and more apparent to me as we did have a mole, if you will, on this site since the middle of August. I won’t go into that but he’s gone.
Please include your current strengths and challenges in your bios, as Matava did last week and then Skip and a few others have since then – that really helps us to understand where you are with the method right now. If you have already submitted a bio, you can go to the Group Members category and update it with that new information and send it to me via email and I will update your bio.
It is only in doing this self-reflection work and openly communicating with each other via the powerful tool of writing that we can get to know each other properly for the work I envisage here, not to mention the safety of knowing that we are not joined by anybody we wouldn’t want to be in the same club with – those bios are very important in that respect as well.
There will come a point in the next few months where people without bios will be kicked out of the group. Let’s say December 1st. That is just to keep that safety thing going.
I was called “overly cautious” by one person, but I let it go because that person doesn’t know what I have experienced personally and what I hear about from colleagues – it would shock you, unless you yourself have been embroiled in one of these TPRS controversies, which actually may be likely. The old paradigm form is not going down without a nasty fight and we must protect our ability to communicate with each other in free and open terms without fear of reprisals in this radical new web forum.



7 thoughts on “Get Your Bios in by December 1st”

  1. Chris, yes. But it should be an MLK-inspired peaceful coup. In many ways, it is civil rights for students – making the world language classroom equitable and bringing success for all within reach (FINALLY), while providing acceleration for those who want/take it.
    I believe more and more that ‘war’ metaphors will decelarate, not accelerate, our success.
    We have to be prepared for “The old paradigm form [to] not go down without a nasty fight” but we have to confront it calmly – with ACTFL position statements and scores of happy, confident and competent students streaming out into our society knowing that speaking another language is not just possible, but it’s actually fun and… dare I say… normal.

  2. That is the perfect thing to say, Grant. Our students’ daily successes and feelings of confidence with the language, and our own sense of calm when confronted, will win the day. We need not worry about defending our position anymore. The tide has pretty much shifted.

  3. I’m drafting a student survey to collect data that I can then use to justify what is done in my class. I anticipate 90% or more of my kids saying at the end of the year they want to continue taking the language through HS.

  4. A kid would have to be a real knothead not to vote in favor of stories, not just because they learn so much more, but because it isn’t boring. Good idea, Heinz.
    P.S. How about that word “knothead” – is that a good word or what?

  5. If you endeavour to help people understand that you are no threat to them, they will embrace you.
    Nelson Mandela
    It’s taken me awhile to digest this thought of Mandela’s and to understand that my way of teaching (TPRS) is very much a threat to some of my, well, actually to all of my colleagues. I’m trying to lead by example. It’s going better as a result. I must be careful to be respectful and not to foist my opinions on others. I’ve had people come in and observe and say afterwards “I can’t do that” I’m beginning to understand why they feel that way. I’ve spent years trying to figure out what I should be doing and why and how I can teach so my students can understand. I’ve learned how very crucial Susan’s mantra “nothing motivates like success” is to the energy and direction of what goes on in my class.
    I arrived at a middle school door in ’98. My administrator previous to the “shift” from elementary to middle school once asked if I would ever considered teaching adolescents. Nope. Nothing was further from my mind. He said I should give it some thought. And one day, there I was…teaching French no less, in a new town, new surroundings, new friends, new school, new “status” , new life. Funny how life happens while one is making other plans.
    My background was in an elementary school where parents had “words” with the principal if their child wasn’t in my class. I had gangs of fun with my students back then. But I’ll tell you true, upon arriving in middle school French class land…there wasn’t even a sniff of fun. Matter of fact, on the “suckage” meter. – 10 being beyond OMG this is awful… the whole “let’s play learn French” experience was registering 10+. Happily, that’s water under the bridge.
    When the “shift” rocked my world, I was informed that I must be on the same “page” as the other teachers. Which meant a text book; all million pages of it. It took me a while to decipher the “French sucks” attitude that greeted me in my classes my first year teaching. Kids came into my room and hated my class and consequently hated me and I was thrown for quite a loop. It was truly a foreign language…the behaviour, the lack of enthusiasm, the horrible energy in the class. To add a little “OMG what have I done signing up for this” fuel to the fire, I decided to work on my masters. WOO HOO, the good old universe conspired and in my searching for “WHAT ON GOD’S GREEN EARTH IS THE PROBLEM” I stumbled on Krashen, and Blaine, Spencer (a canuk) and Wendy Maxwell (another canuk) and then Susan and Karen and Jason and finally Ben. Folks are trying to arrange for their children to be in my class once more. I teach nines and most all of the students who sign up for the elective are former students. It’s not my good looks, charm and personality – buhleev me. It’s CI. Fact.
    I’m thankful for the blog. I haven’t found anyone to collaborate with up here in Canada. So reading what everyone has to say is SO helpful. I spent a day reading blogs last week and really paid attention to Laurie’s embedded reading (about time I did that) so the recent post fell on fertile soil. I just put together a reading for my classes and now I see how I can extend that. I’m so thankful for the community of teachers who are exploring CI and sharing as they go. Without being able to hear your voices, I’d be stumbling around in the frozen north trying to figure it all out myself. You know, last year Susie came to Calgary (a city in Canada) and I excitedly contacted the organizer for the conference…THRILLED that she would be within driving distance. I wanted to attend but I was told I couldn’t come. sigh. I was stunned. Turned out 3 people (I think that’s correct) showed up for her seminar. I so would have loved to be there but it seems Calgarians aren’t TPRS’ers for the most part, they aren’t even wanna be’s. I’m thinking that the only way this will change is when teachers begin to “get it” and I think that the way that this will happen is . . . as the universe conspires for good. Sheesh…this is sounding a little over the top at this early hour. Apologies . . .we do tend to get passionate about CI, don’t we?
    My struggles???? so many. Having the courage to embark on new stories, and being fearful that they will bomb. I worry that I will waste a class trying to make pearls out of silly putty. I procrastinate sometimes…often, if the truth be known with the stories. This year though I swore I would base classes on them. It’s been a serious struggle. I can find a million other ways to get some CI into them. I’m afraid of the stories. But yesterday I had students in three classes say…can I be in the next story? That’s so encouraging that they want to be involved. I very much doubt my abilities to teach well sometimes. I need to stop that!
    My strengths??? I believe CI is certainly the way to learn languages. I’m willing to stumble around, take risks, search for solutions, try something new. I love my students and my craft. Boy, it’s so easy to write this, in reality, I have to push myself a whole lot but I know I have willing heart and I want what I know is best for my students. My intuition serves me well when I listen to that still small voice and my belief that the universe is conspiring for good, all the time, is bedrock for me, and that’s a good thing.
    I very much feel we ought to put a positive spin on what we are trying to achieve with our students. Never mind telling our colleagues that they are off the track. Never mind casting scowls and aspersions in their direction. I’ve been doing a whole lot of tongue biting this year because I know I created some uncomfortable feelings in the past . . . by not understanding the wisdom of Mandela’s observation. I can’t be a threat to my colleagues. That just closes the door to any hope of me contributing to a “shift” in their teaching world. A few weeks ago one of the new staff members asked to borrow Blaine’s book from me. I’m hopeful. Back to the positive spin – I begin the year telling the students that this guy, Blaine Ray, has figured out something that is genius and that more and more teachers are learning to teach this way. I tell them that learning about the language is exactly that and that some teachers will help them do that, but learning to communicate is something else and that’s why they need to come to class with the intent to learn…it’s really that simple. I tell them that they are SO able to learn to understand and then communicate in French. I think I’m a better teacher for all of this stumbling around in CI mode. I know they are better students in spite of my stumbling. Some of them come back to see me now and then. They say they miss me but they don’t. They miss the success they felt in my class. Here’s hoping that everything that is good and true about teaching foreign language with CI will spread, because so it should.
    shine on everyone
    I very much appreciate the community you are building.

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