Joe Neilson

One of the founders of TPRS is Joe Neilson. Few know that. They think it’s all Blaine, but that is not true. Joe teaches at Salpointe High in Tuscon, AZ and is a master AP Spanish teacher. The thing is that he has been laying low for years. The last time I saw him was in Kansas City in 2005 when he presented with Susie Gross. So skip has done the impossible here – pulled Joe back into presenting. And what better place than Maine, where CI instruction is alive and happily bashing old thinking down on a daily basis. skip asked me to post the announcement below. I highly recommend your going.

Just a reminder that Joe Neilson is coming to Maine October 11 +12 and the early bird discount ends 9/17. You can find a brochure/registration form at





15 thoughts on “Joe Neilson”

  1. YAYYYY!!!! Come to MAINE folks!!! It’s BEAUTIFUL in early October – gorgeous leaf-peeping time!!! Not too cold – go apple picking too, but, let’s get together for an AWESOME 2-day workshop with Joe Neilson!!!!
    Thanks so much for organizing this Skip!!! πŸ™‚ See ya next month!
    (BTW….Sabrina and I are planning on staying at the Ramada. It’s a little more expensive, but we can find room there to “hang out” in the evening and do some coaching practice with anyone else that wants too!!! – they have a bar too, so if you stay somewhere else, just come over to the bar and we can all chat and coach each other anyway!!! πŸ™‚ )

    1. Hi May Lee,

      What happens when you click on the link above? Does the link bring you to MaineTPRS yahoo group? If so, you should be able to click on files to the left…

      You may have to join the yahoo group. It would be similar to the process of joining MoreTPRS…

      If you are on MoreTPRS it is also on there under files – click on files and look for Joe Neilson is coming to Maine…

      Hope that helps… If not just repost here and let me know and we can figure something else out.


  2. I’m so envious! I reread all my notes from Joe’s sessions in KC and even googled him to see if he was still teaching since he’s been lying low lately. (I know, it makes me sound like a stalker, but you CI-er’s know what I mean, right?)

    I unfortunately can’t make it to Maine from Colorado. Any chance all or part could be videotaped and made available?

    or Ben, with the idea you and Bryce have about summer coaching in CO–invite Joe also? Just a thought!

  3. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak

    Hi Dori,

    If Joe Neilson allows it, I will videotape the sessions on my Iphone and will send those to you.
    How is Mateo? Is he taking a foreign language?

    1. Sabrina–

      That would be fantastic. I’m having a super hard year so far–my district is in great turmoil and my new all-TPRS department is planning a whole lot of work in common assessments and revamping curriculum and I’m wondering if we’ve lost sight of what’s important: what is best for kids. But I’m loving the all-TPRS feel of a department. So getting to see a little of Joe would be so energizing for me.

      Thanks for remembering and asking about Mateo (and Manny, too, Ben!) Mateo is not taking a language. They only offer language as a before school extra fee but Mateo wasn’t interested. He may have to go to Lincoln HS to have Ben as a teacher! Next year he goes to middle school so he will sign up for French then. I know he’s interested; I also know what a traditional classroom will do to him, and it won’t be pretty.

      It was so great to meet you at IFLT and to have Ben’s blog to keep in touch!


  4. OK – the Maine Conference is now over, and it was FANTASTIC!!! Joe Neilson is one helluva teacher!! He had us LAUGHING and LAUGHING — big time today!
    It was GREAT to see everyone again (I just love the friendships/relationships I have made with so many new “colleagues” in the world of CI!!!) But, it was also great in that my Department Head came to the conference, saw Joe Neilson and has FALLEN IN LOVE with TPRS, Laurie Clarq AND Sabrina!!! (he is a French teacher too). Sabrina did a coaching demo during lunch time today for folks, and he LOVED it!!! (she did a GREAT job!)
    Thank you Skip (and wife, Beth!) You guys are doing SOOOO much for us teachers up here in Maine!!!
    After the past two days, I can not stress enough how valuable it is to form a “local group” of CI practitioners — it is so great to get the face-to-face support from peers! and by coming together for a “conference” like this – LOCALLY – perhaps you can encourage a colleague to attend as well, and see firsthand how much fun and how efficient this “mindset” (and method :-> ) is!
    Hopefully he will be joining this blog soon too!

  5. I want to also thank LAURIE CLARQ for doing a great Embedded Reading “mini” workshop for us at the end of the day yesterday (and thank you Sabrina for translating the Russian!!!) I had heard of embedded reading before (on this list) but really didn’t quite “get it.” Laurie explained it SO well! It makes such wonderful sense!!!!
    I encourage everyone to go to her new website
    and browse the site – there are wonderful resources there….shared stories too!

    1. I’m SO envious–sounds like a wonderful opportunity! Do you know if Sabrina or anyone caught any of the presentations on video? I would love to see some of you all in action.

      1. Hi Doriv,

        May lee did some of the recording and she is going to try and put it on dropbox. First we need to ask Joe . I’ll let you know.

        1. I will ask Joe soon, I promise!

          Sabrina, I found your coaching session so helpful. What I saw will influence my teaching on Monday! I would encourage you to video your class and post it here for the group to see. I think is would be enormously helpful – especially for folks that are just beginning their journey.

          It was so nice to have you with us and I appreciate so much your effort to travel so far. My job hunt has continued and I will keep you posted! πŸ™‚

          1. Skip,
            While awaiting for my flight back to Chicago from Boston, I am going to share here some of my reflections on these last 3 days here in Maine for this incredible conference you and Beth sponsored and organized.
            The first thought that comes to mind is one of gratitude to you and Beth for all your hard work and dedication in planning this event, so THANK YOU!!!! Having never seen Joe Neilson before and after hearing from him that he rarely presents because he is more dedicated to teaching than presenting, I am even more thankful because I got to see him at least once in my career. It truly was so worth it for me, and I take so much back with me and hope I can share a little here for people who weren’t able to attend (although I still need more time to process it all). I am SO happy I was able to come and I feel so grateful my school allowed me to attend this conference (thank you Chicago Public School).
            The second reflection I have is that Joe Neilson is one of those people who truly understood CI and the method, embraced it and personalized it to fit his personality. Ben is another great example of that. So for those who have never seen Joe’ s idiosyncratic style of teaching, I would describe it as high energy, talented actor, and the KING of chants. WOW, chanting is powerful and what a great way to get kids to acquire effortlessly, it really STICKS! I can see that it wouldn’t work for everyone though, but it will for me as I will try to adapt some of this into French . I really liked his PMS’s ( passive or personalized mini stories). Basically what it is is using the structure one is working on into a mini scene with one or more actor. Then we repeat it with a different actor and change the emotions and details ( great way to work with and weave in adjectives, adverbs and rejoinders). Plus it gets the job done of repeating structures in a compelling and non predictable way. It is a great alternative to full blown stories and takes some of that pressure off.
            My third thought is the realization I had after seeing this master teacher in action : it takes work, time, experience and tons of reflection to become that great. So there it is, I will allow myself time to practice this art and hope I can become the best teacher I can ( if I can become 1/10th as good as he is I will be happy).
            My fourth idea is something he talked about, which I have to really consider as I get settled into a weekly routine is the idea that we have to stay away from routine and vary some of the things we do in our practice (without sacrificing our core values of delivering CI in slow, in bounds, compelling way 90% or more of our time) so the kids don’t get bored and stay engaged most of the time. He showed us many follow up activities to stories and readings that do just that.
            On a side note, a great big THANK YOU to Laurie for showing us how to work with embedded stories (even Joe totally bought into it).
            Finally and most importantly, it was so inspiring and heartwarming to see so many friends and colleagues (too many to name individually) and meeting new ones (Anne Matava/ Angie Dodd) . It is great to know we have each other to rely on and support in ways that go beyond CI. Even though we may be geographically at distance with one another, and for many of us isolated and perhaps alienated b/c of what we do and how we teach, the distance becomes irrelevant as we are indeed a small village.
            Have a great Sunday!

      2. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak

        Hi Dori,

        hope you and boys are well! I just saw your post on maine TPRS Listserve regarding Joe Neilson ‘s video. May Lee at my request had sent me on Dropbox some short videos she took which would give you an impression of what it was like, but she needs to send that to you.
        Her email adress is :
        But may be someone else videotpaed it. I hope you get some other answers from people who attended…..
        Talk soon and take care.

  6. I am back home from Maine, and I second everything they said about Skip, Beth and Joe !! What a surprise to realize that I knew so many people in the room already!! (including a former student/now Spanish teacher in Maine!!!) It will take a blog entry to get everything I want to say in order. Love to all of you. This year, more than ever, if you can meet with people during the year, it may just keep you sane. Only 5 weeks into the school year and I was already feeling the weight of the pressure. The laughter and the love has re-energized me!!
    with love,

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