jen Schongalla

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10 thoughts on “jen Schongalla”

  1. Jen your voice here, your spirit of adventure, your stance on this whole thing, is representative of so many of us who also never could fit into the old teacher mold, who thought blindly that the real teachers were the people who did it the way the textbook companies told them to. My own experience is pretty much identical to yours. What you wrote above is just so refreshing to read. If those of us who don’t fit the old mould (sic) can really make a career out of this without using draconian methods, then it indicates real change for the benefit of real kids every day in future years. It is indeed a real shift.

  2. Wow, Jen! It looks like we have more in common than just our names. Although this is only my 3rd year and you are much more a veteran teacher (I bow down to you) I have felt the same way. I feel like I’m not good enough because I have always been wishy-washy about this profession…but now I think I see that I have felt this way because my nature is to just enjoy the kids, have fun and show them the sparkle of language. The traditional “book method” has not allowed me to do that these last 2 years. I am so glad to have read your bio. I don’t feel as alone in my thinking. This last week, it has been very hard to bring myself into the building because I am doing this new thing and probably poorly, and I’m alone in my efforts, and I have a natural inclination to be very insecure and down on myself.
    I’m so glad to “meet” you here. Also, I did include my own bio but didn’t know I should be so specific. I teach in Hackettstown, NJ. I wish you were closer!

  3. I, like Ben, feel a strong sense of common experience with you, Jen. While I’ve known that teaching was my intended gig, it took me several years of trying and “failing” (I always got good feedback but felt unsatisfied with my own performance) in different contexts and using different “approaches” (really just a composite of strategies that weren’t coherently or intentionally connected to one another).
    But we’re on a beautiful path now.
    You use the word authentic. I love this word. So much of today’s educational setting in so incredibly, infuriatingly inauthentic. My daughter’s second grade math lesson MUST be the same as all other 2nd graders in over 15 elementary schools in St. Paul on any given day. Thank you Mr. Gates and the Broad Foundation. How could this inauthenticity be good for anyone? How could a teacher treat kids authentically in this type of scenario?
    You talk of collapsing barriers between you and your students. Those barriers are real, if unseen. We all feel them. Some of us actually try to build these instead of breaking them down. We don’t have the confidence or the competence to trust authentic relationships. They’re messy, like language acquisition. they’re imperfect, like grammar acquisition.
    Some try to keep them up because don’t there have to be barriers? I mean, it’s about my content, not my students, right? I’ve given the same test for 15 years and now all these kids are failing? what’s wrong with them? (tongue in cheek, of course)
    It’s so false and lacking in empathy and other human qualities to force kids into compliance in order to get a grade – in order to get a favorable recommendation from high school so a college will accept them. There are those who play this game with their students’ lives when what kids need are authenthic relationships with caring adults so they too can learn to be caring, empathetic, successful adults.
    Thank you, Jen for your bio. I think I’ll re-read it often.

  4. I had to laugh when you said you’d tried everything. I have many different textbook sets, even though Russian doesn’t have as many as the rest of the “normal” languages. I was on a national board, and worked to help write textbooks, so either I was getting free class sets of the ones I helped write, or was begging free sets from publishers at conferences. And then we had the year where we got tons of money and everyone got to order all the textbooks they wanted for language (but we had to do it in a hurry), so I ended up with a closet full, especially after three programs closed down in town and sent me their books too!
    And guess what…not one of those textbooks “worked.” I kept trying to do a little out of one, a little out of another. My line in those years was that even as a teacher, I could learn something new from any Russian 1 class, so I was hoping that by doing the same topics (mostly grammar ones) in five or six different textbooks, kids would eventually get stuff. Nope. Never worked. And so much of your story is like mine was.
    The only thing I don’t have right now is the total joy that the kids are learning so much. I’m used to it! But I shouldn’t be. Susie used to warn people that they wouldn’t be so surprised the second year, but that they still had to be amazed for the kids. Reading your account makes me remember to be amazed, surprised, and delighted.

  5. Angela Williams

    “And even though I see that it will take a long time to get into a rhythm, I am energized to stumble along. It’s such a refreshing feeling, so different than the resignation and “just get through the day” that was the old “normal.”
    I totally agree with you here Jen. Sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing and that I’m doing a terrible job, but with time it will be better. Loved your bio!

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