Johnna Little

Johnna (who just finished her third week of TPRS last week) sent me this email:
“You have to have your eyes wide open, you’ve got to be connecting with them, because otherwise, there’s really no point.  They know if you mean it.  They know if you’re telling them the truth.  They know if you’re feeling it, and they’re looking for the love, the joy and the inspiration from you in that moment and we just create it together.”
This is a quote from Elizabeth Mitchell, a children’s songwriter and performer I heard interviewed on NPR today.  She was describing what it’s like to perform in front of children as a singer, to reach them as an artist, but she sounds like she’s describing a TPRS teacher!  But we perform everyday!  We need to be so full of life and energy to awaken our students to the art of learning, which is so antithetical to traditional teaching.  In comparison, traditional teaching seems devoid of life itself.
Thank you for a wonderful workshop…they were the best 2 days I’ve ever spent learning anything about teaching.  I wish more of my grad studies (soooo useless and boring and theoretical…yawn) were spent learning TPRS.
My response:
Thank you for being open to what I had to say. I would just add, to clarify, that, in fact, the approach works perfectly for any personality. It is a myth that one has to bounce around the room to do TPRS. Blaine doesn’t. Jason does. Others are in between. CI is like that. And I know that’s what you meant Johnna, that being “full of life and energy” does not necessary mean constant ebulliance. 
In fact, it takes a lot less energy to do a story than manage the blocked energy created when the light bulbs go off in the kids minds because their conscious mind is being targeted in English in the classroom, vs. what we do in targeting their unconscious mind in L2.



3 thoughts on “Johnna Little”

  1. ben’s response is sooo important. I was at the Maine workshop, too, and have seen all the big honchos come and do their thing. I was “converted” to TPRS after 2 Blaine workshops; so I was channeling Blaine for a while. Then I saw Suzie, and no one can channel Suzie, then it was Jason, and now Ben. You MUST find your own voice as a CI/TPRS teacher, or you will run yourself into the ground. That is the imperative and the beauty of it. We saw both ends of the “bounce” spectrum in Maine with Johnna and Peter, but both connected, using their own voices. Beautiful!

  2. Just a word about process . . .
    Ben and Deb are correct that each of us has to find his or her own voice, style, etc. But the act of “channeling” Jason or Blaine or Ben can be an important part of the process. It helps us separate what is essential from what is peripheral in a person’s presentation; it helps us gain a repertoire of techniques than in time become all our own because they are combined in new ways that fit who we are.
    I used to be choir director for my church (now I’m the organist). One time my brother was visiting. After the service he told me that it was fascinating to watch me conduct. We had gone to the same university, so he knew and had watched the professors who taught me. He said there were gestures that I would use that were pure Dr. Gustafson or Mr. Garlock or Dr. Ellington, but they were part of a larger body of techniques and gestures and combined in a way that was totally me. I think that’s what happens as we acquire the tools and techniques of TPRS/CI. We wind up incorporating elements of those who teach us in a way that becomes our style.
    Hope that made sense!

  3. I agree. I watched a lot of brave teachers demo for coaching purposes in SoCal. When their authentic selves emerged, fleeing the worry of perfectionism, and they watched and listened very carefully to their students, going as slowly as they needed to go, they didn’t have to channel anyone except themselves.
    As Ben says, something connects in the collective unconscious and imagination of the participants. Language does what it is supposed to do–connect us to life and to each other. All of the storyaskers I watched were distinct, unique, memorable–running the gamut from quiet and subtle to energetic and bold. All valid, all very effective.
    I learned a ton watching these talented teachers put themselves out there in front of their peers. None of them had any idea where things were really going to go until they actually got there. I saw a lot of magic sparkling out of their tprs wands as they honed their skills and kept themselves open to their students–a pretty nifty trick finding that sweet spot.

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