Jeff 4

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14 thoughts on “Jeff 4”

  1. I think that overall, things are better when you do CI. It is for me. I enjoy my job more, I have met amazing people, I know my students better, and I spend less time doing unimportant busy work. But I am not teaching 40 kids per class nor am I under any external pressure from admins, parents, etc. It is still difficult.

    This work requires so much emotional work and introspection and self-awareness that I wonder if most teachers (especially 4%ers–myself included) are simply not cut out for it. This is the paradox: people who end up becoming language teachers are in some ways the worst equipped to teach adolescents. This is also why we are under no obligation to listen to any researcher who does not deal with these emotional realities head-on as having the power to trump anything “intellectual” that supposedly happens in pre-college classrooms. This also should prevent us from becoming too bent out of shape that we are not approaching a “pure” implementation of any method. Purity is the domain of academics and fascists. It cannot be “perfect” unless you create a police state. And many language teachers are willing to do exactly that, if it means meeting unrealistic learning goals and having compliant (i.e. robotic) students.

    So I think once we have experienced the joy of even a crappy version of CI, there is no going back. But we can scale things back when we feel like we are floating–in a bad way–without feeling we have abandoned the CI world. If we hold tight to the premise that all kids are welcome and can learn as long as we make the language comprehensible to them, then what we do in the classroom will never be as bad as what emanates from a teacher who does not believe that all students are welcome and can learn a language.

  2. …I wonder if most teachers (especially 4%ers – myself included) are simply not cut out for it….

    I also wonder if this work can be done in schools. Increasingly. I’m up to about 70% it can’t and 30% it can. This is not based on a few years of thought, but twelve.

    Not only that, the sun often does rise in the West in schools and set in the East. They really do a lot of things ass backwards in so many ways.

    For example, there is Jeff with his event, having a human moment of anger in front of a few kids who are exhibiting very unhuman, uncaring, respectless, self absorbed behaviors, and Jeff, not the kids, is called on the carpet for it.

    The kids, freed from any responsibility because of that mean man (have you noticed how they use the word “mean” a lot when we ask them to behave properly?) go home and watch more Homer Simpson dad images and chaotic school images and so come back again the next day for more bullhsit antics. Really, it may not work in schools, ya’ll.

    And Jeff needs readers. Why isn’t that happening John? Write one good basic novel. Sell it. I’ll sell it here. I don’t get that. Jeff needs a reader badly. I’m sure there is a good reason, but I’ve missed it in y’all’s discussions amongst each other.

  3. I wish I knew about CI 7 years ago, I would have had the direction, not to mention the time and energy to crank out a quick Latin novel, or at least a few chapters or adapted myth stories. Back then, I spent a lot of time compiling incomprehensible resources that I thought would benefit the elitist all-Latin immersion academy I was building in my brain.

    One thing that many of us in the Latin cohort have is small children, and it takes all we’ve got just to get through the day and then the evening. On a positive note, things are slowly falling into place like never before. We are beginning to agree on a word list that will be useful AND tie into textbook vocab. Inspired by the cardinals, I am envisioning a Latin CI conclave summer 2014 where 6 or 7 of us can spend a week fine-tuning our method and co-writing, embedding and editing some readings. As you know, we’re in uncharted territory, and no one else is going to do this for us. And then there are the legal pitfalls of trying to work with an already existing resource, even though nothing we produce is going to generate any money. We are forging ahead, though at a much slower pace than we’d like to.

    1. Jeff and John,

      Writing a novel is a huge undertaking. And with young children like you said it takes a lot of time and energy.

      Why don’t you start by translating some of the novels already written such as Houdini or others out there. I don’t see why Carol or other authors would mind to have a latin version, the more languages it is translated in the better business it is for them, and most importantly for you and your students.

      I have been working on editing Robert Harrel’s pirate novel lately and although it is taking me longer than I would like it, I should be done in a month or so .
      When it is all done and ready it will be wonderful to have another French novel (and a wonderful one I might add) to offer to our students.

      This is something you could start working on now, perhaps as a collaborative effort so it’s not so time consuming.

      Anyway these are just random thoughts, trying to think of ways to help you guys out. What you are doing is monumental work, revolutionary work and you need to continue leading the way.

      Lots of courage Jeff, we are all with you in your difficult journey.

  4. Seriously, I wish that I knew Latin. I would write it for you all. Keep your eyes and ears open people for someone, perhaps retired, who could be called upon to do that. Hmmmm….that gives me a thought…if it becomes more than that I’ll let you know. But when we cannot do it ourselves, it is often a sign that it is a job for someone else..someone available that we haven’t connected with yet. You will find a way to publish it. That will not be a problem. What you need is an author.

    with love,

  5. “We may need to have the discussion, it’s been gorilla in the room in my own mind for years, as to whether this way of teaching can be effective in schools. In situations where the person actually wants to learn the language like in a language school which is a business or in the military, I can see wonderful success….. If we are all going through pretty much the same things you are going through, Jeff, but are just afraid to admit it publicly like you are, is there really much hope for this method in school settings? It’s a serious quesion. ”

    I too often wonder why this method works wonders with adults teachers in conferences but once we go back to the classroom it becomes an altogether different animal.

    So I try to rationalize it and find reasons as to why there exists such discrepencies. Us adult have the intrinsic motivation to learn and we are able think concretely and envision the long-term. Kids just don’t have all that yet.

    I think that the question you pose Ben already contains some of the answers.
    School setting, discipline, lack of intrisic motivation are all restrictive factors and major defects preventing the clear articulation of this otherwise beautiful organic method.

  6. It’s hard because teaching children is hard. Especially when there are up to 41 of them are in a room at the same time. Especially when we have to do that 4-7 times per day.

    There is no easy way to do it. And it is never going to be the same as teaching a group of willing adults. Ever.

    We have to admit to ourselves that it’s hard, it’s never going to be like a conference, and that there is no such thing as a perfect class or lesson.

    Then we can enjoy it. :o)
    with love,

  7. I wish I could get there, Laurie. I can’t reconcile the heady promise of the method as played out in so many conversations here over six years now, with so many fantastic stories that could never happen in a traditional classroom, and the Sunday night feeling of knowing that we’re in for one more week of that hard emotional struggle that only teachers can know. This job, that feeling of knowing how high we can fly in a good class, mixed with the reality that we are one unhappy kid from some kind of problem, some kind of resistance that will slash at the method’s sails, it’s hard. I wish I could enjoy it as you say all the time. I just can’t. But this past year has brought us jGR, many new writing ideas, some great stuff about reading, we’ve refined the discussion about making CI work to a degree I could never have predicted last summer, and we are that much better off for this most creative year, even if it has been hard.

  8. I call foul, Ben! This can’t be your message, that it can’t work in schools, as you ride off from the classroom into the sunset. 🙂 But seriously, though, if TCI won’t work in school that means students simply can’t learn languages in school. We will never implement the method perfectly, and it will never go perfectly in any class, no matter how many good students there are, but don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

  9. I don’t know. I just am kind of aligning with what Angie said today about how hard this all is. I want to be practical and see the reality and not go around shouting how wonderful CI based instruction is if it causes teachers to crash and burn learning how to fly the new plane.

    The method is a wonderful plane, no doubt, and fun to fly, but I question whether it is wonderful to fly in schools. James said that it is great in schools. Yes, it’s wonderful in schools. It’s also crazy and nuts and very hard to make work in schools. It’s both. I would be happy if it didn’t have the gnarly part to it. I guess that is what I need to be happy, Laurie – no gnarly part. No people quitting like Angie.

    I have no answers. Laurie what I need is to hear it working for more people. To be happy I need to hear that people are actually doing it for real and not in some watered down bullshit form that ignores the part about how language acquisition is an unconscious process. That part right there, that last phrase, really gets to me. So many people miss that piece!

    I want to get less emails from teachers who are cracking up. I need to see less people lying about how they do TPRS or whatever you want to call it. I want to see less strife in teachers learning it. I want the truth out about how hard it is to do in schools and I don’t want anymore sugarcoating. And I want that taught in teacher education programs.

    Is not the method placed in a very tough situation every day in so many classrooms, with too many thugs (admins who just don’t get it, parents, and kids who just don’t know what it means to be polite) standing around with baseball bats with nails in them? Is this not the reality? Hey, even one thug is enough, right?

    See, I think Angie would shake her head up and down in reading that rather grotesque image above, and others would say I’m reacting way too strongly and tell me to focus more on the positive. I’ve been focusing on the postive for twelve years and I will continue to do so. But I don’t want to lie about what it takes to get comprehension based instruction going in schools.

    I’m kind of in a holding pattern. I just don’t want to be pushing this stuff only to set teachers up – with their new learnings about the method – for failure bc of the grotesque and intense pushback we all experience every day.

    I mean, I’m in the best school in the country for TCI, and I feel pushback daily, in my case mainly from about 30% of the kids, which to me is a LOT, many of whom would just rather remain two dimensional and I am not faulting them for that either. I’m just asking if the sweet realness of this stuff happen in schools? It’s just a question. I don’t know the answer.

  10. I tried to email the message below quite a few times but was having trouble. Because this thread is the current hot topic, I’m posting it here. I’m sorry if it doesn’t totally relate to the topic at hand:
    I’ll keep this short: the staff in my school has been asked to have discussions departmentally about quarterly assessments. Big changes coming down the pike in NJ; next year the Danielson model is coming. Anyway, our “lead teacher” is routing for an IPA assessment. Others are complaining that those take so much time to proctor and grade for a quarterly assessment. The other issue, of course, is that only I do CI with one other colleague only beginning to get into it. The assessment decision is left up to us since no one in admin really gets what we do so I ask, what would the PLC suggest I recommend?

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