Michael Fullan

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13 thoughts on “Michael Fullan”

  1. School culture can change — if the stakeholders wish it to change. But much like local politics, those who have power sometimes put the maintenance of that power ahead of the benefit of their constituents.

  2. Ben, you must have overheard a comment made to me yesterday. Briefly, upper level classes are being ruined because the wrong people are in the class. I am on my own here trying to open the minds of my colleagues just a crack. Timely comment. Thanks.

  3. Yeah – to deny a language to a student because they don’t have a real high testing talent is a dark, strong, ugly form of pridefulness. We can all speak a language, or two or three, and our lives can be so much richer for it. I don’t know who said that about the “wrong people”, Carol, and I don’t want to know. This fires me up. I will work against them by working for TPRS.

  4. Ben, I hesitate to speak publicly, but this is so deeply hurtful – these people are my friends and to not be able to have an honest and open discussion is more than troubling. Even a scientific discussion about aquisition has proven touchy. To be so completely frozen out by colleagues of long standing is so weird. Must ‘ve struck a nerve, cuz they’re wrappin themselves in the grammar cloak with all they’ve got. This blog is a safe haven. Today did not go so well in a few of my classes, but I have taken the first steps and I have gone too far to turn back.

  5. 3. “Brutal facts” are o.k. if they lead to change.

    Wow. When I first “discovered” TPRS in 2000, I was exposed to many brutal facts, which led me to throw out the textbook and change about 75% of what I was doing. One of my colleagues did the same thing. The rest did not. The more information I shared, the less people listened.

    We already had bad feelings between the textbook grammarians at the HS level and the communicative teachers at the MS. Things got personal. The district hired a team-building consultant to teach us how to listen to each other. That didn’t help much. Add TPRS into the mix (and I was 100% convinced), and you can imagine how little common ground there was.

    All this led me to believe that the only way to change culture is gradually, one relationship at a time. Some people will not change dramatically, but can be influenced slightly. Trust among colleagues is so important–I think as teachers we are all somewhat afraid that we are not doing enough, and people tend to dig in their heels if they feel criticized. Confrontation can have the opposite effect if the trust isn’t already in place, and the last thing I want is to go back to the days of screaming matches.

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that I don’t see many dramatic revolutions happening, but rather a slow trickle of change, one person at a time making up his or her own mind, and sometimes a gentle nudge does more than a shove.

    1. I hear ya! About two months ago I shared a statement from the WL Consultant from the Ohio Dept. of Education with the high school Spanish teachers. What he said was such a damning indictment of so many teachers’ unwillingness to change when change is inevitable that I found it worth sharing to show what’s at stake. Despite my intentions, the assumption made by everybody was that I was bashing our district and our district’s teachers to the state dept of education. This is so far from the truth. I used my personal email, not my school email, never mentioned the district I teach in and I didn’t say anything really bad about my colleagues, my email was actually full of a bunch of questions regarding the new standards and how teachers are going to be evaluated now in Ohio. I completely offended everybody. But really I should be the offended one because they all assumed that I would go bash everybody to the higher-ups, that shows how low they think of me I guess. Then a few weeks later, our entire department had to get together to work on curriculum stuff. That was an awful meeting. Throughout the entire two and a half hour meeting, I did not say one word. I did not have the desire to say anything, refute anything, or fight about research, pedagogy, or anything because I learned a few weeks prior to this meeting where everybody stands and that there will be no compromise on anything.

      There are a few teachers here who while I wouldn’t call “traditional”, they fall into that “communicative”, immersion/thematic unit type of teaching that is being hawked by people like Helena Curtain.

      My advisor at the university here falls into that thinking. She’s a fan of thematic units, not using translation, and early output. But she also is a big fan of Richard Donato, so I’m very interested in everything that happened with him at ACTFL a few weeks ago since he was talking up CI.

  6. With the old methods, I felt like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain,only to have it roll back on me. Now the rock seems lighter and I can see success.

  7. I just keep reminding myself to face forward and not look side to side. Horses don’t make it to the finish line by worrying what the others are doing behind or next to them. Even if you’re the horse’s ass, as I sometimes feel, you’re moving straight ahead.

    I have decided to make change one student at a time, one confrontational parental phone call at a time. A colleague that I consider a friend who has, as of late, been rooting for me much more verbally told me that she saw one of her former students in the hallway during passing. She asked the student how it’s going with my class this year and the student excitedly told her that she “understands everything that I say” and she is “thinking about taking Spanish 3 next year”.

    For now, it’s that kind if thing that will be enough for me.

  8. This whole textbook thing seems to be such a powerful pull for so many teachers. I think it has a lot to do with the fact that we teachers never have enough prep time so teachers want to fall back on the ready made stuff. I was just at a local TPRS get together and realized how naive I am in my newness to TPRS. I have jumped into the water with both feet. I didn’t realize until this meeting that there are a lot of teachers out there who love the idea of TPRS but just “do a little of it now and then.” It seems to be because they feel overwhelmed and are scared to let go of the pre made worksheets and accompanying videos.

    Our little group is going to try and meet every month. If you have any advice on how I can be helpful to these other teachers without being bossy, I would love to hear it. Also, Chris if you are reading this, you need to come to the next meeting because we need your energy!

    1. I plan on being at the next one! To be honest, I completely forgot about the meeting on Saturday. I have four papers due this week so that was my only focus this past weekend.

      I’ve met quite a few people with that mentality, they think TPRS is an “activity” or a “tool in the toolbox”. Nope, I think it is the toolbox.

  9. Tamula the way you handled yourself at that meeting last time, about a month ago, is the same way you should approach this meeting. Is my memory right on that, that you shared with us about a departmental meeting on that a while ago? I liked what I read there – you did what I can never do on the level of just chillin’ and talking about this stuff in a non-threatening way.

  10. This has come at a great time for many of us it seems. I had my post conference meeting with Roger Nicolls, my administrator/evaluator/savior from my own teaching methods yesterday. I sat through an hour of him telling me how to teach Spanish. I am not sure how I can use Fullan’s advice, especially when I am the newest person to a department. Please allow me to poach this blog listing to share with you my newest experience with Señor Butthead. I imagine can imagine the hellfire that would come down upon me if I tried any of these points, especially 2,3, and 5. Brutal honesty might get me on a “plan for improvement.” The meeting started out cordially enough with him telling me that my term “Flashitos” is not okay yet his creation of “el Flip Sheet” is okay (he then showed me how to create the said “el flip sheet”. I talked about my philosophy and he shot me down. He told me that I needed to have kids talking more because with output they get input. I talked about how I follow ACTFL and he sent me this:
    Although speaking is the most difficult skill to acquire in learning a second language, it is the most imperative. Below are the Five C of the National Standards for World Languages, adopted by the ASD World Language Division. Although the standards are not rank from 1-10, the first standard addresses students engaging in conversation-speaking.

    Just food for thought.

    He called CI (I do not want to use TPRS with him) a new trend and basically called it invalid, as things come and go, but there is always the old standbye.
    There was also me mentioning Katya and her teaching at his beloved DoD language program and he mentioned that he knew Katya…whatever that means. I know that I am far from amazing and I am currently working to be better at my craft, but I really have a difference of opinion with him. At this point he is being unprofessional. He had the audacity to nit pick the fact that during the class he observed there were 4 times that a few students in the very back row were not engaged and I did not notice (we were doing a silly activity that I normally would never do and with the 31 students, I could not monitor them all at once). This is who I am dealing with. And he wants to come back next Thursday. I am like, WTF? I am talking with my union at this point.
    I feel as though nothing will be good enough. I have started to say “thank you so much for the information, I will take that into consideration.” I do retells with the kids and will make sure that I have them doing this when he comes in next Thursday. We will see if this is sufficient as far as his need to hear mt students muttering broken Spanish (I imagine him as a corrector). He also mentioned that I have to show the students that I am passionate about the language and that this not just a job. Ummm, that is pretty subjective. I don’t think having them make F*&%ing “flip sheets”, writing the word three times in Spanish and three times in English shows that you are passionate about teaching a language I just don’t. When I feel more comfortable, I may whip out the Fullan, but until then, I am going to stay quiet.

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