Accept that you may not get a problem going in a tableau. It’s not a big deal. If you have to control everything, if you have to know what the problem is before the story starts and if you have to force it into existence in the story, you will not access the magic of this work.

The best is to just let things unfold. Trusting yourself and your students is required if you are to be successful in this work.

Keep asking questions. See what happens. The only thing that students want to know is what happens. If you can just remember that, and if you and your students can laugh when a story bombs, you will then gain insight into what this work is really about.

What is this work really about? It’s about laughing with kids. If you spend your time in class laughing with kids, and your instruction if not the laughter is in the target language, you will probably end up by the end of the year having taught a nuclear explosion amount of language compared to what you could accomplish with what you were doing before.

When you are laughing with the kids, you are certainly not laughing about the structure or the form of the language, or its word lists and silly rules, which should be laughed at with great derision, but about its content, the message, its contextual richness, its groupings of understandable words that get bigger and bigger each year from word chunks to sentences to entire paragraphs to entire stories, to what Rabelais calls the “substantifique moëlle”, the bone marrow of the thing.

It’s the freedom from fear and worry that counts – freedom from the fear that you won’t teach all the words and all the word lists and all the stuff that your students are guaranteed to forget after the test.

When you laugh with your students in class, it is almost a revolutionary act. You are bringing real reform – much needed reform via real communication, not the fake kind – to your profession. Yes, teachers should be able to teach how they want, but not at the expense of children while ignoring the research.

It is so easy to turn your teaching into robotic performance. You must stay strong and never give up trying to align in the real way with the standards and the research. This is your task in the new 21st century paradigm of language instruction.

One thing is certain – it’s not about you having to be the wonderful master of ceremonies and the funniest and most theatrical teacher in the building. Creating a story is a shared communicative experience.

Below is a link to a video in which you can see this kind of unplanned verbal play with my sixth-grade students in New Delhi, India in 2015. The link below takes you to the first Invisibles character created and it wasn’t even planned.

A student had been drawing on a portable whiteboard between classes and he just handed it to me at the start of class, like I was supposed to do something with it, so I went with it. This very early Invisibles story, of course, in no way reflects the detailed ideas presented in this book, which have evolved steadily in their precision since 2015, but “Pringle Man” was the very first Invisible character of the many thousands that have been created in so many teachers’ classrooms since then :



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