Jen on the Current Situation

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11 thoughts on “Jen on the Current Situation”

  1. Yes. There are many ways to address this. I have two young kids and they need me and they I can make a huge impact on them. Now, I do not mean to throw in the towel but I am not sure how I can address kids with huge barriers. I can only set them up the best I can given my limited time in my class. The kids need to know there are adults who care for them the most.

    At my site most parents are supportive because they are at my school because a parent filled out an application, though it is public.

    I know that I am blessed to be here and really commit to no prep/light prep for my lessons. For my own sanity during my block says I use the following:

    Story listening
    invisible drawing (we are starting with level1 this week to switch things up)
    FVR (for level 2 of all those old stories from level1 as well as other class stories)

    And now I am going to add W and D

    I would add other things like freewrites and even dictation but my students are on board to conintue with CI… I tend to just riff on personal bio’s and something that ressembles PQA.

    The “pure SLA world of research” is exactly what it is: a vacuum without any variables. Students need much more than just CI. There are more important things that are useful to them. Things that will inspire them.

  2. I agree Steven. Just yesterday I finally after many months reached the liberating place where I could let go of my relentless need to do every possible thing to reach certain students who for whatever reason need to cling to their patterns. I am not going to change them. I am not even necessarily going to “provide space for them to notice they can do something different. ” It’s ok. Really ok. Yes, I provide the space, but it does not mean they will notice yet. I have to be ok with that and stay centered. I realize I have been working too hard to “just try this one more thing.” Nope. Done. Not throwing in the towel or being unpleasant, but recognizing that I don’t need to hyperfocus on these few kids. It’s ok. they are doing the best they can given their current state of awareness.

    Literally it just clicked for me yesterday and I feel so much better. Like the boy in my most recent story listening tale “The Empty Pot,” I did my best and that is all I can do.

  3. “He can’t be open to the process…it’s too vulnerable, and he puts all his energy into avoiding and hiding.”

    Thanks for this reflection, jen. This quote stands out to me, but the reflection in general has helped me feel better about a challenging class I’m having.

    Hey, I now teach a block schedule at my new school. 87 minutes periods on a A/B day schedule. (I know you see your kids on the block every day in a row, which is intense!) So, I look forward to future conversations about how to implement activities in the block. And with you too, Steven!

    1. Heh. Sean. I will be experimenting a bit starting next semester (Jan 31) when I get a whole new batch of kids. I will keep you posted.

      Yesterday we had a 2 hour delay, so we started school at 9:40 and had 50 min. classes instead of 80. It was SO GOOD. It made me realize (even more) how challenging the 80 mins a day really is and how much time I end up wasting because I am too tired to come up with so many things to keep them engaged for every second of the 80 mins. Yesterday was so nice. The 9:40 start time was so great! 50 mins was the perfect amount of time. Kids were engaged and relaxed and it just felt like a great flow.

      What I am doing now in the 80 mins as we wrap up, is 10 mins SSR followed by 5-10 mins of mindfulness / relaxation. I’m doing this now as an unguided silent time. Some of them actually lie on the floor on a mat or blanket. Others stay in their chairs. Kids who need to move can walk quitely in the hallway right outside the room. Some of them continue reading. The kids prefer that to the guided ones we had been doing. I am thrilled to offer some silent space. So that eats up about 20 mins. I know, no input during 1/4 of my instructional time. But the reality at the moment is that if I try to create more activities, it ends up adding to the chaos and frenzy and then they can barely attend to the input. I know I will need to get better at transitions and all that. I am working on it, but for now this is keeping me sane and the kids are very happy to have some quiet time in their day.

      Then we do the main CI event (which currently is SL because that is most effective). Depending on the length of the story and the energy in the room, we will do the reading immediately after or do something else and do the reading the next day. “Something else” varies… Senor Wooly or some sort of game, movement, etc. I also give very short movement breaks during the story to keep the focus up. Very quick TPR things, etc. for like 10 sec. then back to the story.

      1. …how much time I end up wasting because I am too tired to come up with so many things to keep them engaged for every second of the 80 mins….

        Once you get going with the Invisibles, you won’t have to keep them engaged. They will do that by themselves. It’s a radical and effective shift, this new NT focus.

        1. Haha, no to the iPhones! No phones unless permission granted. They try to grab them but my “one and done” policy seems to work well ( I see a phone, I escort it to the “phone condo).”

  4. One way of keeping things simple for me, but also making sure that there is (at least perceived variety) for my students is that I normally do the same things each day for all of my classes, but there are certain activities that I focus more on depending on the time of the year. I usually break it down to the beginning of the year, the middle, and the end of the year. This helps students to feel like we’re doing different things, but it still keeps my planning (and mindspace) simple and clear. Plus, I enjoy having some variety too! I agree that if we’re trying to do too many things at once it just makes things more confusing for everyone, and it makes teaching much more exhausting. It’s tiring enough without all of that! Staying in the target language while also trying to reach students can be exhausting, let’s not make it more complicated than it needs to be!

  5. I hear that, Bryan, and would add that variety is not just defined by different activities. We can keep the kids fully engaged in the same activity if the content is sufficiently interesting/compelling to them. I think that this is a rather new thought in our work, because in the past we thought we needed to have lots of different things for them to do because of the research on how 20 min. is their focus limit. But I believe that research, if it exists, was based on activities that aren’t compelling, like TPRS. But I’m not seeing that anymore. I’ve been waiting for a long time to get that targeted TPRS thing off my back. Be very clear – I am like Keri in that the kids were involved when I did T1 stories, but I myself wasn’t. I was a nervous wreck. So a big piece was missing – my current NT happiness vs. the old kind of T1/T2 happiness that I brought to class: the fake kind. I am still in shock that SK says that those ways of doing it are o.k. They aren’t, in my view.

  6. Great. You touched a sore point. I teach 93 minutes A/B days. It is very long……and When I do a story I need to add something to the day to give me time to put the story up on the screen. I like it better to do the writing of the story out of classroom so that I can add some new words or add old vocab. If I am in the middle of the class having to manage their behavior, the target language and so on the resulting reading piece is not good at all.
    I already do 15 min FVR with level 2. Followed by different strategies to go over what they read and then we move on to the main part of the lesson.
    I want to consider what Jen suggests: silence/mindful break of 20 min. But I can see them getting their iPhones out and start texting or whatever they do with their phones.
    I hate thinking of wasting input time, but on the othr hand it is so tiring to add more strategies to fill in all those minutes.

    1. Hi Esther, sometimes I do movement, like yoga or 5-a day or zumba or salsa / merengue / bachata, etc. I have had success doing 5-10 min of movement then a 5-10 relaxation. Or the other way around depending on the group. Word chunk team game is always a favorite.

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