Body Awareness

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7 thoughts on “Body Awareness”

  1. I was excited to see this post. I know I use too much L1 and I try hard to designate clearly when we are going for L2 and when L1 is ok. Unfortunately I somehow always end up in a muck of mixed signals.

    The town meeting idea will help me. I like having a check-in time where we can learn about each other as a group. It builds trust and authenticity. I need to read the book, obviously, because I’m having trouble–yes STILL–with situations where we are in L2 and I ask a question and a student launches into a long elaborate story in English, relevant to what we are talking about, but way off the rails. My inconsistency and confusion dealing with this leads to more mixed messages. Like, sometimes it is a great story and we are all caught up in the details and the kid is sharing something from their life and I don’t want to cut that off. Then other times I try to diplomatically say “wow! so you work there every day!” (in L2) honoring the answer and also trying to divert the flow back to Spanish. Today the student got frustrated that I cut her off. She said “I like details and elaborating. It’s fine.” Another time a student got irritated with me and said “It’s my native language. I speak English.” I don’t remember what I said in that moment.

    I think the town meeting regularly over time will help with this. I am not far into the semester (only been a month, but we had a lot of snow days and a week vacation in there, so it’s pretty choppy). I’m finding I need to be so explicit with everything. Like I actually have to explain brain breaks and transitions almost to the point of writing up learning objectives and “can-do” statements for them. Not a good or bad thing, just an observation that was confirmed today in a “help me understand” moment. It was toward the beginning of the class, and they had been sitting awhile so I was trying to do a quick stand up and switch places kind of thing. The instant I got them up it was chatter city. So we sat and I had a time out in English where I asked them how we could get the transitions quicker. I was honest and not angry and I said can you help me understand what happens when I ask you to do x, y, z? Maybe we can find a way to make it happen without the talking so you can hear the instructions. Silence! Total silence! Then a brave student said “We start talking because we are just moving around and are not being taught anything.” Bingo!

    So, I guess one question I have is if I have to explain everything like this: we do x because y, and q because z…then how are the invisibles going to be organic? I have not started those yet. Last semester they kind of just happened, but now I’m feeling skittish since it has come to my attention that I need to pre-explain everything we are doing and why. ??? For now I will keep doing SL and maybe some visual storytelling (like movie talk, but not interactive bc I can’t seem to keep a flow of L2 unless I am straight up storytelling).

    Sitting where I am now, I almost feel like I need to backtrack completely and establish new English / Spanish boundaries. Any ideas about this?

  2. Bryan Whitney

    I will definitely have to look into this Reich research. This makes me think about how we need to learn how to put down our own defense mechanisms and open ourselves up physically and perhaps even spiritually/psychically. What does it look like for us to model being open, from the heart? I feel like there have been times where I have experienced this, but there is still often the fear/trepidation around being in front of/with students. I feel like we’re moving in the right direction though… I’ve also started experimenting with Story Listening, and I and my students are really enjoying it. I feel like there’s a lot less pressure, and I can still be creative by modifying my speech and drawings to my classes. Great stuff!

    1. Bryan with Story Listening, I like the idea of loving the story, loving the characters, all of us loving the work we are sharing. Working together to share real ideas about the inspired and, if we have chosen well, timeless material, not using the material to teach things that we feel that they “must know” (that right there is a crock when it comes to language instruction). Like targets from some list somewhere. I think that is what modeling from the heart would look like for me. Not being afraid to express my fascination. The old model of actually teaching the language puts us on a mental pedestal that is really quite unattractive to kids.

    1. Hm. Good question. Off the cuff probably bouncing between 8-9 with a few tanks here and there. I wonder what they would say? I think they would say about the same. I don’t know. It came up today that it’s really difficult and taxing to have to interact as a group for 80 minutes with no down time for them to just chat with their friends (like in other classes when they are chatting while “doing their work”). I give them a 3 min break halfway through, where they can use their phones, chat, hit the bathroom, get water, etc.

      It feels to me that I need to find clarity within myself around L1 use: why and when and do I really need to. Maybe this would be an interesting classroom job. Sort of like an evaluator, but instead of an admin, have a student with a clipboard checking off certain things? Is that over the line?

      They are only picking up on what I am modeling, which right now is confusion. I’m so interested in the dynamics of this, because (probably since I am old) I’m finally digging underneath the friction to find–always–a lesson that I need to learn. Clarity and consistency. Hm. As uncomfortable as it is in the moment, I am happy to catch a glance of myself in the mirror. At least I can get a chuckle out of that 🙂

      1. …it’s really difficult and taxing to have to interact as a group for 80 minutes with no down time….

        The 3 min. you allow is not enough.

        …have a student with a clipboard checking off certain things? Is that over the line?….

        Yes. We need to create an atmosphere of trust and any policing of behaviors must come from the class as a whole and not the teacher. This originates in the first two weeks of school.

        1. I meant the clipboard “evaluator” would be evaluating me, not the kids. Like checking for my English use. But now that I think of it, I should just set up a video person. Duh.

          As far as policing, etc. there is no sense of fear around that. I do not do any sort of good guy bad guy vibe. Not my gig. There are lots of kids who shout out reminders for me to turn on the sparkly spanish lights and who remind each other to be kind “se amable” etc. so the roots of what we are doing are in the heart. I just need to clean up the itinerary.

          As I reflect now, it all boils down to clarity. That has always been an issue for me. I am scattered and easily go off in too many directions. When I did the circle up and explained “hey guess what? the movement stuff is input! remember input?” It was hilarious actually, because a student who was in my class last semester then said something that I can’t remember exactly but he used the word “acquire” or “acquisition” something like “we’ll just acquire when we listen”. I squealed and gave “Muchos puntos extra!”

          Thursday and yesterday I gave them “choice time” for about 15 mins where they could choose from a menu of activities to do individually or as a group. They seemed pretty happy about that. Some kids chose FVR, others read together out loud. Others drew characters. I can’t wait to find out about a pineapple this girl is working on! Some listened to music and read lyrics (we are doing a March Madness music bracket, so they are exploring some of the groups, etc). I circulated around checking in and helping a couple of them find something fun. One kid was dying to make thematic lists and study (he was in a traditional program at another school last semester) so he used his “midterm study guide” from his other school to “study” and such.

          So…I think what I need to do is split the time into specific chunks with more down time in between. Like an interval workout! Maybe 4 chunks of 15 mins? Student timers to keep us on track. Something like that. I will work on that this weekend. 🙂 Thank you for the space to figure this out.

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