Mental Health and the Invisibles

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7 thoughts on “Mental Health and the Invisibles”

  1. My mental state is wrapped up with how my students feel too. It’s kind of scary. I’m the only teacher at my school who has the same kids for two years except maybe for P.E.

    So when someone started asking me about France, I asked would you like to know more…. we can do a story… “eh” they said.

    So we did a “culture day”. I had an image project on my screen from my own desktop background. We talked about it. My super stars asked questions and the unengaged kids were truly engaged listening as I told then how a French dinner was with its courses etc… My kids are special in that way, they crave novelty but this can also means that they want to know more information that is real… they stick to the concrete and the practical. They’ve been trained. However it is only by doing so many stories that students are able to comprehend on the fly, a theme like a French dinner. When it didn’t click my students asked for clarification. Weird.

  2. You gave a social studies lesson. It was novel. They paid attention. Try doing that every day and watch their heads hit the desks. The setting in schools is unnatural and far more stressful on us than we realize.

    We are not social studies teachers and so must always return to the unique input that we provide them in the form of listening and reading. If they, because they are penned in like animals, resist, we can do stuff like you did above.

    Perhaps the answer lies in trying to please them less and working more on pleasing ourselves with humorous and interesting stories that amuse US. A few kids will come along. It is our working with those few kids that invites others to come along.

    This was very dicey for me for so long, because the old guard TPRS experts at workshops kept telling me to work with targets. I believed them for far too long. Now that I don’t do that anymore, I feel the load has been lifted and I am free to roll with emergent targets.

    I know that you are doing that successfully, so keep doing it. If they treat the gold you are giving them as swine would, throw a grammar book at them for a week or so and they will learn to appreciate your core course content.

    Steven you are working far too hard and have become far too capable in just two short years to let any students not show you the respect and attention you deserve. When you sense that it is a question of you pampering them and listening to them complain about what is on the menu, stop the class and start teaching grammar forms. Tell them this is what they do in other language classes all year. They will shut up and show you deference, as they should.

    1. As you can see below (or somewhere) I too teach the occasional social studies lesson in French to give 8th graders something “real”. I actually have fun with it, too. It’s all about listening and reading. It includes suggestions from the class, too, in the form of “what do you think…”-type questions and whatever comes up that they can contribute. Maybe it’s more like the story telling we have mentioned here since there is a predetermined body of language that we are working with.
      If they are engaged, listening to CI, reading whatever we talk about, that seems pretty good to me. There’s no way we could do it every day, though. And as Steven said, the only way we can do it is because we do so much of the other.

    2. “When you sense that it is a question of you pampering them and listening to them complain about what is on the menu, stop the class and start teaching grammar forms.”

      I may do this. Some may like it but many will miss out. Though it is only a few who are bored, sometimes they are too vocal about. I need to address it head on Tina style… though she much sweeter about things.

      I would like a paradigm shift. It may be asking for too much because they are so used to memorizing and having content pushed on them. Once the chains are off in my class, some do not know how to be human or the trust isn’t there. But yes, I need to be aware of what I am doing — pampering. I am going to do more SLA work with them. Then it’s on.

  3. If you mean do I have kids who aren’t into stories because they aren’t real? Yes! Many 8th graders are that way, so we aren’t doing Invisibles or other typical stories. Some of them have have always been that way, since 6th grade. It’s a funny group. Not very interactive (except the handful of disrupters who are too willing to interact in their own way), quite critical, not willing to go with the flow. They are very good at denying what they have learned, too, because it seems like they aren’t working according to their definition of working, so they say I don’t teach them anything. What a headache.
    There were a few in last year’s 8th grade who also wanted it real once they got to 8th grade. We studied Paris and Marseille all in French (granted it was pretty basic). They liked that. We couldn’t have done it without all the stories and MovieTalks and other “unreal” CI.
    We’ll be learning about the cities with this year’s classes soon, and I will point out to them that we couldn’t be doing it without the base that we have created.
    I appreciate you putting this into words, Steven. I tend to just get frustrated and am not very good at supporting and defending myself.

    1. Funny I am better at defending myself to admins and colleagues than to a class of kids. They have strength in numbers and you see them everyday. That said we are the professionals not them. Ive told a couple of kids already when you put in 4 plus years of study and PD, you can teach your class differently.

  4. … I tend to just get frustrated and am not very good at supporting and defending myself….

    Welcome to the club. I spent my career being frustrated about their inability to “go there”. But now in retrospect I see that it has nothing to do with me but with our educational system hitting some kind of apex of robotic expression. We can only forgive the kids, for it is not their fault that even as young as 8th grade they have had their imaginations beaten out of them by the hammer of data collection and testing.

    Watch them carefully. Perhaps one day in class someone says something a bit silly that lifts the corners of a few mouths. (Hafiz defines things that are true by using this image, and I keep repeating it here on the PLC because it means so much to me.) Follow the energy of those slight smiles. Ask questions about what caused the corners of those few mouths to raise. Don’t worry about the targets. Worry intead about the communication.

    Slowly, only with God’s loving help, we will turn this thing around in favor of genuine participatory and reciprocal lighthearted human interaction in our classrooms.

    The timing of this move to genuine human interaction in our classrooms is not up to us. All we have to do is go in the next day and try to get another story going. It may be another fifty years. I don’t care. I won’t teach in the old way again.

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