Jennifer

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31 thoughts on “Jennifer”

  1. Dear Jen,
    First of all, you are the teacher and YOU get to decide what the students do and how much they are acquiring. If you believe that TPRS is the right thing to do, then do it. We can help you to find ways to demonstrate to students that they are acquiring!! Do not let your students determine how you teach.
    Having said that, it shows compassion and concern and respect that you asked for their opinion and want to honor it. What they have told you is that they don’t “feel” the burn that they are accustomed to in a language classroom. As I said, we can help you with ways to show them that the No Pain, No Gain mindset isn’t necessarily the most helpful. But…there are times when, as teachers, it is in our students best interest to Feed the Need and plan in some more “traditional” activities so that students feel validated.
    My suggestion is to try to strive for a balance. That is not being half-assed. That is meeting our students where they are and giving them the skills they need to be successful in a CI classroom. They haven’t been to a workshop or conference. They don’t belong to this forum.
    While our goal is as much CI as possible, it is our GOAL. We teach for June.
    Without having been in your classroom, I’m going to hazard a guess that that students don’t realize that a CI classroom is an INTERACTIVE classroom. They aren’t just sitting around listening to you. They are constantly interacting via the language. You speak, they respond with gestures or sound effects or responses. You question, they answer. You elicit details, they provide. Together you read and translate, read and illustrate, read and discuss.
    In addition, as you continue, you will get better at creating and maintaining this interaction, giving them even MORE opportunities to be an active part of the process.
    The last “secret” that I’ll offer is pure Susan Gross: Compliment, Compliment, Compliment. Sincerely. Frequently. Specifically. Then say Thank you.
    Don’t give up yet!!
    with love,
    Laurie

  2. P.S. The truth is, this is a process…for us and for the kids. It is not a “program” that can be purchased, handed out and utilized. It is a new way of thinking, a new way of being. It will take time. It will always be possible to be better. That is the beauty of it. It is helpful to focus on, and celebrate, the journey rather than strive for the destination, whenever you can.
    with love,
    Laurie

  3. It’s o.k. because we are where we are. No doubt the good people of this blog will write good things about this situation. I suggest we all comment a lot on what you wrote. I know that, when journaling, it takes like a few pages of writing to even get to true things in that form of self-reflection. So maybe we can write enough here so that something might emerge for you. What affects you affects us all. I have no grand plan – it’s just that this blog exists just for this kind of thing, to try to help you address the critical and bravely expressed things you wrote.
    So, it’s not working, and you asked your kids to voice their opinions. In my view, that was an error. I stopped doing that years ago. They don’t know. Frankly, I think that what they said to you was based in ignorance and and a certain kind of pride and what they hear from their (I am guessing) rich parents.
    They say that they are frustrated because “the only thing they’ve been doing is listening” to you. Cry like Dwight Schroot. Well, tell them to get over it. Ask them how many years of simple listening it took them before they spoke English.
    Honestly, Jennifer, I see in-between the lines in what you wrote a kind of old echo of the outdated idea that the teacher is a kind of entertainer, wanna be winner of some kind of popularity contest, who dotes on the marvelous talents the kids have, none of which works in Krashen based methods. When you don’t give them that, because false praise is never part of any CI program of instruction as it is in the old way, they feel “frustrated”. Again, be Dwight as he cries for how much they are suffering.
    I am suggesting (all of this strictly my opinion) that all you need is a little more practice with the method and in the meantime go ahead and do the traditional but neither would it be a good idea to abandon what you believe in. What do you want out of teaching, the hells of the old way or the fun of the new?
    You can do it. This is very important to me as the moderator of this blog. It becomes focus #1 for me now, because don’t you know that we all have the fears you have? Of course we do. Posting video for me is a total freakout. Will they like it? Will it help them? Will they like ME?
    This is scary stuff for all but those who don’t have feelings. That is why we have this private venue. This comment is going to resonate deeply with a number of people, because of the quality of people who read it. I’ll bet a lot of good things come from your honesty here, Jennifer.
    What we need are specifics for you, concrete suggestions that you might be able to pull off while using the book for part of class as well. We all come to mastery in our different ways, our own ways. I suggest that we find a number of activities that are CI but are not as hard as what you may be doing now.
    I have two immediate suggestions. The little Fauntleroys sound like they would be very happy with daily dictees. They can write to their heart’s content. You can do some CI for like 5 minutes and then turn that into a 20 minute dictation. They will be in heaven! If you don’t do those already, they are described on the resources page of this site. One Word Images, described here also on the resources page, may work, as well, as a way to extend some relatively low key PQA into something that might grab their attention.
    I feel a rant coming on so I better stop with the mini-rant, which has been long enough already. Speaking of long, October is a long and hard month. The weather is changing, the wrapping is off the gifts for everybody, and many of us, I would bet, are slumping. We are not meant to slump in fear. We are made to dance in joy.
    So this is real and we need to address it on this blog in a real way. I will take what we have so far and turn it into a new blog post just to make it searchable, because I know that we are going to get a ton of really great ideas for you to try out Jen. You ain’t done with the CI just yet.

    1. Ben and Jen,
      Your post, Jen, and subsequent reply, Ben, reflect my exact feelings when it comes to fear about how to keep the students interested in the acquiring they are experiencing. I can only imagine what the feedback would be from students of traditional teachers…if they were even asked for feedback. I used to ask for it (when I taught strictly with a textbook) and I could count on the 4%ers always having nice things to say, while the other students had varying opinions about what worked for them and what did not work. Most wanted less worksheets/homework and more games! Now that they get that, minus the games, they feel like they are not working hard enough? Hmmmm….maybe they need a little education in how language is acquired.
      I am jumping back in with both feet after our 2-week Fall Break and hope to keep it “real”. I just watched another of Ben’s videos, found it on “Teachertube” or something like that and learned so much about PQA and going slowly. Please keep up the good work, Ben. I am handing out the video consent forms tomorrow so will video-tape my class asap. I am so excited to “teach” with TPRS that I can hardly stand it. I think my students will be happy to finally be able to acquire the language.
      I plan to come at them with love, a la Laurie. I’ll keep you posted.
      Jen, keep the faith. I feel your stress. We can get through the lows.

  4. Thank you for telling me that the videos helped, Louisa. I want to stress that we really do have to leave our egos at the doors on this unique video project that we are all doing together. The fact is, we will never ever come close to getting those home run classes on film so we need to just forget that. We are not here to wow each other with how great we are. Please feel the truth of that. We are here to work and learn.
    Also, this is a precious line:
    …I am so excited to “teach” with TPRS that I can hardly stand it….
    I know what you mean by that! Even when it sucks, there are little traces of joy in it. And when it is good, there are big comets of joy. We can all ride around on our CI horses and hit our cowboy hats on the ceilings of our classrooms and have a grand old time!

  5. I want to add that for me, seeing the videos of Ben actually DOING what he talks about is what allowed me to take the plunge and do TPRS-CI Latin classes this year. Last year, I had all the pieces, and I was gung-ho, and I ended up doing it piecemeal, with some success. But over the summer, watching Ben teaching on an average day, is what put all the pieces together for me, and allowed me to say: “I think I can try this for real.” Thanks again, Ben.
    Jen, I agree it is a very good idea to take student feedback with a grain of salt: consider what they know (their immediate experience of your class, previous educational experiences), as well as what they don’t know (the theory, the planning, the struggles, the learning goals, the unconcscious nature of language learning). Respect and honor their input, and be aware of its limitations–they can’t always articulate what they want and need, and the system has provided them with meaningless activities and a meaningless vocabulary of jargon for describing them. Steve Jobs is being honored for, among other things, knowing what people want better than they themelves do. This applies to us in that we’re providing an experience that students really want and need at a deep level, a level that has been shut down or has never been allowed to flourish, at least since kindergarten.

  6. Laurie said: The truth is, this is a process…for us and for the kids. It is not a “program” that can be purchased, handed out and utilized. It is a new way of thinking, a new way of being. It will take time. It will always be possible to be better. That is the beauty of it. It is helpful to focus on, and celebrate, the journey rather than strive for the destination, whenever you can.
    And I keep reminding myself that it will take time! I just wrote that sentence on several students’ notebooks. I’m also trying to get feedback from my students, but more in the form of self-reflection. This week I targeted a few of the class rules and had them write about how they do or do not follow through on the rules and why. It is so helpful! I’m learning things like: “I don’t usually signal when I don’t understand because I try to figure it out myself and then by the time I do, we’ve moved on.” Also I am learning that “I thought we were supposed to respond with true answers.” And…”I have side conversations in English because I am asking a classmate about something I don’t understand. I know I could ask the teacher, but I think it is more helpful to ask someone who is also learning.”
    So basically what I take from these and other equally helpful comments, is that it is all still very new. It is a process that we are not familiar with. It will take time to get the basic wrinkles (of protocol) ironed out, and then it will still take time, and more time! The students are so beaten down with the idea that they “have to be right” and that there is somehow shame associated with admitting you don’t get it. At first I was like, oh just signal anyway, but upon further reflection it isn’t so simple. I need to build the culture of “the whole groups sinks or swims.” This is the real process!
    Anyway Jennifer, that was a roundabout way of saying I am in a very similar space. The kids are skeptical because they don’t “feel the burn.” But for me there is no going back, and I suspect that for you too, because you are in this group, there is no going back. I am also brand new so I read these voraciously looking for wisdom from everyone. I guess just know that we are all stumbling along, sometimes we manage to be graceful, but if we move from our hearts then we’ll be ok even if it’s messy. You are definitely in the right place to feel valued and encouraged as a teacher and a human being!

  7. Beyond echoing the “patience” mantra that is certainly true, I’d throw in the reminder that TPRS doesn’t have to be stories all the time. I haven’t done a true story with my German Is this year yet because they haven’t bought enough into “the game” to play.
    Right now I’m spending my Day 1 PQAing the snot out of whatever I can find (questionairre responses, pictures, etc.). I feel like I’m still in the trust building stage that I want to get to know them better first before I do stories. On Day 2 is when I type up a story (sometimes an embedded story so I start with a very basic storyline and add to it each pass, othertimes a story I based on a script or something I invent with their PQA responses plugged in).
    What I’ve enjoyed about this is I find no stress to be super-creative on Day 1. I take what they give me and ask for more. As long as my frequency counter spits out high numbers and comprehension checks are there, I’m good. The creativity comes more on Day 2 as I arrange their responses, so they “get” that better responses equals a better story. Once we finish up the questionnaires sometime in November I’m going to switch over to stories.
    As long as you are conversing in the language and it’s about them, it’s TPRS.
    And it is a process. My current III/IV combined class is my first upper level class I don’t have to negotiate with and wrestle with constantly, because it everybody’s third year in the process. It takes them awhile, just like us.

  8. Wow, there is a lot to think about here. I have been through some pretty dark days and some exhilarating days since embracing TPRS. This is my third French 1 class to be totally TPRS from day 1. After lots of coaching, reading, blogging, ” seminaring” and “webinaring”, I have finally arrived at a place in level 1, where I feel I am in a good place. So much so, I sometimes wish that I only did level 1! For me, the key has been just working through the process – it’s hard work, but every conference I attended, every blog I have read, everyone’s advice and support have left me with a feeling of empowerment. When I walk into my French 1 class, it’s my turf, I am the expert, I own it. I have done much more classic TPR than ever before. I am slowly working through the questionnaires – got a sweet little story about a one-eyed cat named Sarah who belongs to Olivia. I asked for volunteers to draw Olivia and her friend Marvin the one-eyed super cat. I will put them on tongue depressors (Carol Gaab idea) and hope to bring them in as recurring pets. This just came out of PQA. I try to be relaxed. I picked up on something Linda Li did with gesturing – she insisted that they do the gesture every time she said the word, but she did it in the sweetest way – she made you want to do it. I have adopted putting a big smile on my face and saying “not optional”. They have to be accountable. I cannot say enough how important the eye thing is – I finally get it! I constantly remind them of the rules and how critical their input is. They are not great about asking for clarification – that’s a work in progress. But over the past few weeks, I have seen little lights going on and I am treating what’s unfolding like a treasure because it is. With great sincerity, I praise them, I tell them how well they are doing, I ask them how I am doing, we sing silly Alain LeLait songs which I hear from their parents they are downloading like crazy. I have stopped stressing about what I am not”covering”. I use Bryce’s “Repasito” idea at the beginning of class. I call it “Revision” – translate sentences like “My name is Bobby” “Bobby is 14 years old” They feel like they are “really learning”. I have learned to keep things moving. There are so many things to do – Ben’s idea of doing a dictee is a life saver. I took some of Carol Gaab’s advice and sent out a letter to parent’s at the beginning of the year explaining my approach – you will see some traditional mixed in with a lot of new methodology quoted some Krashen and attached a bibliography. Yesterday at conferences, I was surprised to learn that many parents commented on my introduction to CI and were interested to learn more because as it turns out, their kids are thrilled with French class and I am working very hard to keep it that way. We have done one story that I typed up on the cat with one eye. Without asking them to do it, many of the kids just took it home and offered to translate it to their parents. Several of the parents were thrilled with the amount of French they controlled after four weeks and they said “my son read me a story, you know the one about the one-eyed cat”!I was very gratified to get the positive feedback. The kids know I love them and now their parents know it too. It was the best night of conferences ever. There will be peaks and valleys. I never will stop working on the craft – when I say, I am “the expert” – I am not, far from it, but the kids don’t need to know that I am a work in progress. Jen, if you can just dig down deep and own the method, be the expert (in training) – we all need to find our CI voices. It’s hard to put into words how I turned this corner, but I am counting on the same thing happening next year in level 2 as I move forward and grow with this group and with the support of everyone who has ever offered a word of encouragement, a shoulder to cry on, an idea, a video or an ata girl. In addition, I got a message today that a former student who is at Gettysburg and tested into Intermediate French and feels well prepared and ready to minor in French. It’s a process – sometimes a long one – it’s so worth it to work toward making the break through and come out on the other side. With all that said, I will always be a work in progress!

    1. Chill – thanks for your insightful post. It is filled with uplifting thoughts and gives me hope. By any chance can you send us a copy of the letter you sent out to parents? It sounds like something we might be able to use as a “go by” to get something written for our students’ parents. – Louisa

      1. Hi, Louisa:
        I am not sure of the sharing protocol here since I got the information from one of Carol’s webinars. You might try shooting her an e-mail or checking her website handouts – it may be there for free. It’s really a description of what a CI classroom looks like – some traditional teaching blended with more contemporary methods. A list of what facilitates acquisition, qoutes by Krashen, etc. She attached a lengthy bibliography which always lends an air of expertise! I recommend her article “Multistory Construction” http://languagemagazine.com July issue.

      2. Hi, Louisa:
        I got that letter from one of Carol’s webinars. I do not know what the protocol is for sharing that information. I would check Carol’s website and see if it is in her handouts section or e-mail her. She wrote a great article about CI that appeared in the July issue of”Language Magazine”. The article is titled Multistory Construction. You can find it at languagemagazine.com. You could also ask Carol if she would share it.

    2. Before conferences, I sent home a story for my students to read to their parents. I got such good feedback from parents about it, that I have decided to send home a story once a week or at least every two weeks. On the one I sent home today, I borrowed a self evaluation piece from Grant.

  9. Libby Whitesell

    Today, I too feel like I’m NOT delivering the language in an engaging way. Two things changed that thought. First, I had a student declare in class “this interesting because it’s about us and what we like to do.” DUH! (as I smack my forehead). Second, yesterday I gave the first years a dictee. I gave them a little bit more than five minutes and a sketch of the current story. When i saw their work, I grew discouraged because I focused on the ones who couldn’t write a sentence! (10 words)! Bill (my sage husband) pointed out that 80% of my first years wrote 30+ words! Also, several wrote 60+!! Bill says I should take it and show it to the traditional teachers and say, “Look at my kids writing after 7 weeks of French!”. Maybe…. But for now after I put it in perspective, I am teaching them. I have sustained the last year or so of my teaching with something a former collegue of TPRS said about students when I was having a particularly difficult day. “Libby, They don’t know what they need. Remember you are the expert in the room.”
    Hugs, we are in this together.

    1. Sometimes when I do a dictation, I give them the story with just the target structures blanked out and then when I read the story, they fill in the blanks and then we just check the spelling for the underlined words.
      Maybe it’s not as overwhelming as a whole sentence!

  10. The irony is that out of one teachers struggle comes so much encouragement, good advice and reflection.
    I have not started stories. I am still circling the student cards. I think I may have mentioned that in my Spanish 1 class i started talking about Sydney’s card. Sidney paints and draws. We talked about what she paints, what she draws. Where she paints – she paints in Georgia only because her studio is in her dad’s house – she does not have a studio in Maine. The class was, in my opinion, a bit flat. The next morning when I walked in Sydney was sitting sheepishly at her desk with two drawings upside down on her desk. Of course I milked it for ALL it was worth. I couldn’t believe that she would bring in her artwork. I picked up on of the paintings and held it into myself, away from the class and asked “class, what does Sydney paint… they knew from yesterday that she painted flowers but the didn’t know what the flowers looked like – until I showed them. It was magical – I then did the same for the second painting. I thanked Sydney profusely (and very sincerely I might add) for adding to my class – for making my class as good as it could possibly be. The class understood that Sydney had given something priceless to us.
    I then went to another card. Katelynn skateboards. We ran out of time and the class left. The next day Katelynn has her SKATEBOARD IN CLASS WITH HER!!
    This “Circling with Props” activity has breathed life in the Ci. It has enabled the CI to become compelling. Susie said again last week to us to just “talk to the kids” (CI + P) I have found that when the CI is ABOUT the students it is far more interesting than anything else I can do.
    Tomorrow we are talking about Chelsea’s card – she dances. I think she will bring her ballet slippers:)
    Thanks to everyone who has faithfully continued to encourage, admonish, teach, and coach. My students are much better off for it!

  11. Susan VanBronkhorst

    I am sure that last year my students also would have said that my stories were too much to tolerate. I didn’t take a survey, but I could see their bored expressions. I knew I had to give up control of the stories, but I just couldn’t seem to do it.
    So I began this year with new intentions, which I explained to them. Now I am seeing their eyes sparkle when they realize that they get to make up the story.
    What I think is really helping me this week is to pause and point at the basic structures of the story. It helps all of us keep the focus and I still feel in control of what is happening in our story, even though they are coming up with all the ideas.
    Two of my groups are still not going so well, but the sparkly eyes in the classes that are working give me courage for those also.

    1. Susan this is such a spot on description of what we all must go through as we learn this approach. Trust that your description of what you are experiencing is largely shared, certainly, with most of us. Also, you said:
      …what I think is really helping me this week is to pause and point at the basic structures of the story…..
      The power that is inherent in keeping everything focused on the three structures is described in a series of blog posts I wrote about “rebar” here, just in case you haven’t read it yet:
      https://benslavic.com/blog/2011/03/11/rebar-1/
      If you want to read all five of those posts, just search “rebar”.

  12. I can’t believe that my post was turned into a main thread. I feel like I’ve hit the lotto…the CI lotto (insert laughter). I just want to start by thanking all of you for your comments. I want to share a bit more about the specifics of what I have done in class during the TPRS lessons:
    I have rules clearly posted (taken straight from Ben’s freebies.)
    I have explained to the students repeatedly, in laymen’s terms, the reason behind the TPRS style.
    I have written words in Spanish/English that were “out of bounds” to make them “inbounds”.
    I have reminded myself to go slowly, tried teaching to the eyes, asked for hand comprehension checks continually (to which my students sigh heavily and roll their eyes.0
    I have praised, praised, praised and done so as genuinely as I could muster.
    I began the year circling with pictures of things they enjoy.
    I have often paused to laser point to the rules (yes! my dear husband went and found me a nice ‘ol laser pointer…)
    I have done reading classes in which students chorally translate after what I have read and have created parallel stories from them; and I’ve done SSR with a tiny library.
    All of this being done, the remarks the students made on the surveys you all now know. I agree with Ben, I probably SHOULDN’T have bothered to ask them because they DON’T know what’s good for them. I mean….it takes a while for teenagers to become human, no? (totally j/k there)
    But what do I know? I started researching TPRS 1 month before school began, stayed up nights just to read. I’m only a 3rd year teacher and I’ve had a rough go of things, all the while I’ve been praised by peers and administrators. I’m trying to believe that I’m even good at teaching IN GENERAL, let alone being ballsy and doing this. Heck, I’m only 27 yrs old since I’m sharing so much and that doesn’t make me feel anymore confident in front of kids that were 4 yrs old on 9-11….
    I’ve been struggling on finding consistency and a rhythm to planning lessons/making assessments on my own. Now this? All I know is that I’m crazy enough to have tried it AND it was the most relaxed I’ve been. I’ve never had more fun (even with the 1 or 2 classes that have always struggled with it from the beginning). But then….well, then I look at my colleague’s plans and listen to them talk about teaching ser vs. estar., present progressive, verb conjugation in the present tense and the order in which they do it. I hear them tell me the exact amount of quizzes they plan to give for each topic/unit and how they intend to “throw a few activities in that make it more personal and ‘fun’ for them”. I begin to get so dizzy with my indecision. It would be a total lack of respect for my colleagues but I just wish you all could see their lesson plans-how structured and methodical and organized it all looks…..
    Sorry for the vent. I appreciate your comments so so so so much. <3

  13. Jen. Remember yesterday when I was on such a high and I said peaks and valleys. Less than 10 hours after my peak, I hit a valley. Got to school and my dept chair and friend started to grill me about my midterm exams. We are all undergoing a review of our exams to make sure they match our proficiencies. Her concern was that if a parent were concerned about my “methods” would I be able to point to the page and chapter in the book where what I am doing is “covered”. Where do I begin? If I am working on the 200,500,1000,2000 most common words in French, would they not appear somewhere in a French textbook? I might be using a direct object pronoun in week four French 1, but it is in my level 1 textbook somewhere! I could point to it! Duh! Then she mentioned” whole language” and what a disaster it’s been across the country and something about her grandson babbling away at the age of two but not really knowing what he is saying – he parrots what others say – whatever that means! Then the real concern came out. The woman who runs the dual credit program at the local community college ( a college classmate of mine) was not “happy” with my midterm exams for levels 3 and 4 last year. Wow! There were things going on with my mother who was in hospice the month before midterms, I had to get special permission to go into the library on Sunday before exams to get something – anything on paper to handout on Monday. This is all for a 75 minute test that is 20% of their grade AND I cannot give below a 60. You can only imagine the games that are played with that. My kids all pass while the Spanish teachers (pure grammar textbook coverers extraordinaire) divise spreadsheets in some unknown number system to come up with a creative way to get their students to pass with a 70! At the end of the day, this unpleasant conversation was triggered by the impending visit of the dual credit person. The irony: only 3 kids out of 38 signed up for dual credit last year. I am supposed to change my approach in class to appease who? So three kids can get dual credit! What the heck. Peaks and valleys.

  14. Carol don’t look now but certain people who used to bank on certain pedagogies are about to get launched into the sky when the fast opening CI door hits them from behind. Their landings won’t be too soft. As the house shifts about while getting ready to crumble, their windows are closing fast as well. If I were that person who runs the dual credit program at the local community college, I wouldn’t be very happy either. You are doing great work and have been for some time and we are all proud to be side by side with you in this effort. There seems to be some weird principle of maya at work right now where people who are unqualified to address certain issues in our society are given credence by an unsuspecting public. It can’t last too much longer. We’re deeper into this change than we think, maybe past the tipping point as Shannon suggested here a few days ago.

  15. My dear Carol,
    Look in the mirror at the strong, confident CI teacher that you are. Celebrate!!!! Not only is this type of instruction over the tipping point, but you are too!!! What a gift you are to your students and to this group. I have loved watching you grow into the teacher you always wanted to be. You rock girlfriend!!
    with love,
    Laurie

  16. You guys out there on the East Coast need more support and training is what I think. Except for Skip Crosby and the Mainers, it’s pretty weak for workshops out there, right? And next year it’s Las Vegas for NTPRS and we in Denver may have something next summer or the summer after that, but where’s the training love over there on your side of the country?

  17. Please let me know about training on the East Coast. I appreciate everyone’s comments and Chill, I’m sorry you had to deal with that administrator coming down on you for teaching in an extraordinary way. I guess we all have those days and your post helped me to see that. Sorry for the short post but I’m at school, it’s lunchtime, and still working with kids. Ah…the life of a teacher…

  18. …I’m at school, it’s lunchtime, and still working with kids. Ah…the life of a teacher….
    Most of the group knows that I only teach half time now as I get ready to fully go out to pasture in the relatively near future. As I look back, it is almost stunning to think about what I did full time for 34 years. All those conversations with colleagues that made no sense, all those administrators with power over my ability to earn a living but who didn’t have a single clue, all those teachers meetings which had nothing to do with teaching, all those pointless trainings, all those rubbing shoulders with adults who were simply on a power trip with kids, all those kids whose basic needs weren’t being met and should not have been in my room but needed rather to be wrapped up in love by someone important to them for awhile, all that craziness. I honestly have no idea how I was able to do that every day for that long. As I see my colleagues still doing it, I am struck by how difficult and emotionally devastating it can be at times, and my heart melts with the kind of compassion for them that only a teacher can know.

    1. Sometimes I feel I really don’t belong or fit in; and I work with great, caring teachers.
      I had a day away from school at a New Tech training this week; I always feel inadequate at trainings. Inadequate and thick-headed and just plain dumb. Why don’t I understand all the teacher-talk as everyone else seems to? Why can’t I think of a good question to write on the paper airplane and throw around so that someone else without a clue can try to answer it? And then, I go back to my classroom and see my students and–well, the first day back after being out of my classroom is never good. We forget how to behave around one another; we forget what I’ve worked so hard to make our classroom “feel” like. Maybe Monday will be better.
      I’m only a 1/2 day teacher–thank God for that–so I have more time in my “other life.” But even at that, I wonder how long I can survive the pretending…pretending to understand, pretending to be a “real teacher,” pretending to agree. If I were in a “high stakes” area, I would not survive at all.

  19. O.K. what the hell is a “high stakes area”?
    Second, I have to say that this comment is one of the most poignant comments I have ever read on this blog. It describes me perfectly for 24 years. It is so spot on. The thought is that we don’t belong in the profession, but, if that were true, then we wouldn’t be. Lori, what I did with those feelings was just keep teaching. I trusted that at some point I would learn something real and in 2000 I finally did.
    Bottom line here is to ask, “What is best for the kids? Is it the product smeared onto the kids’ faces by the colleagues you so perfectly describe above, or does the answer lie in the cowboy hats and wooden horses that we, who ourselves want to learn to play in our classrooms, give them?”
    Which is real, smearing knowledge on kids, or play?

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