Mr. Rogers

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



14 thoughts on “Mr. Rogers”

  1. This documentary changed my approach to working with young people in a lot of ways that are hard to put a finger on. One thing that I can talk about, though, is the realization that sarcasm has no place in my teaching. This kind of humor is all about me and my desire to be cool and funny and is the antithesis of child-centered, loving interaction.

    For example, sometimes a student will return from an absence and ask, “Did we do anything yesterday?” My response used to be, “How could we do anything, with you gone? No, we just sat around and waited for your return.”

    Now granted, the question, if you take it literally, can be annoying. But as the grown-up in the room who is more interested in expressing love and intelligence than in being funny and letting kids know how stupid their question is, my response is now, “Yes, we made a story. Let me print out a copy of it for you so you can take notes on it while we read it today. Good to have you back.”

    Watching that documentary made me realize that not only did Mr. Rogers do the “right” thing, but his life was overflowing with love and light because of it. I don’t know about anyone else, but over and over during the film I kept thinking, “I want that. I want to be like that. I want to feel what being like that feels like.” As teachers we couldn’t ask for a better role model.

  2. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I so totally agree. The snarkiness in the dominant culture is so outta control. I see so much snark in the school house. So many micro aggressions. We must ‘out’ this behavior (including our own), examine and try to eliminate it. First step – define and point out – so everyone knows what it looks like, then offer a kinder alternative. Yesterday I saw a first grader lash out at the teacher associate. It was the end of the day (they’re tired & cranky sometimes) but I heard it and tried to help her process it:
    “When you speak with unfriendly words and voice, it’s hard to listen to your message. Can you think about what it is that you want to say, take a deep breath, and try again so that Mrs. Jones can understand better?”
    “I need to find my lunchbox.”
    “Wow, Mrs. Jones did you understand better what Carolina wants?” “Yes.” “Success!”
    Carolina, is there anything you’d like to tell Mrs. Jones about what just happened, and how you’re going to try to talk to her next time?”
    “Sorry, I’ll try to be nicer.”
    Ugh February.

  3. When I watched the movie “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood” I was really struck by the moment in the movie when Tom Hanks as Mr. Rodgers looked at YOU in the camera. It made me realize, oh my gosh. Mr. Rodgers was really the first youtube star for kids. How did he DO that?
    Because now I am in the tube, teaching kids. How do I emit that same love for the students through the screen? How do I look at them and SEE them? He did it., and years before any of this internet stuff.

    My colleagues and I realized quickly that sarcasm doesn’t really fly on zoom or in person all masked up. One has to be genuine and caring. I like that you mentioned snark, Alisa. It reminded me of what my 8th grader said to me last night at dinner about teachers she doesn’t like…teachers who try to pretend to be like the kids, which involves snark and sarcasm. They try to talk like the students talk, she says. It feels like pretending. Kids don’t need another adult doing that. They need adults to be the adults. I love this quotation that Ben mentioned above: “Children need adults who will protect them from the molders of their world.”

    1. I think the truth is finally here – it’s arrived – that too many teachers are insecure narcissists. Just keep being yourself Annemarie. You are more like Fred Rogers than you think. You are one of the real ones and so don’t fret. If you weren’t genuine like him, you could not have written the above comment.

    2. If Mr. Rogers could radiate such caring and genuineness to a t.v. camera 40 years ago, I should be able to do it with students in video chat, even if they find ways to hide their faces, as you say, Annemarie. Or, at least I can strive to follow his example.

      But yeah, this conversation makes me think of how different it is using Zoom/ Google Meets. I don’t stop as much (hardly ever) to address students who may be distracted. They could be all having their phones on and browsing Instagram, or whatever, just below the screen surface. Oh well. So long as I’m the adult and I deliver the language. And deliver the language I do. I speak at much greater length, slowly and with support, but for a greater amount of time. If you’re just started to try CI and, in particular, NTCI, I think remote learning is a great place to start.

      One big desire I have though, and I wonder if anyone here has any insight: I would love if students could only see me and not their peers on the Google Meet. Does Zoom have that ability? Half the students in each of my classes have a strong aversion towards showing their face on the video. I mean, I understand. It’s kinda invasive to have all your peers staring at you, in the face. It appears Google Meets does not have this feature right now. I hope they make an extension soon, that is, again, for the teacher to see the students and the students to see the teacher but for students to not see each other. That would be a significant development for me (and many other teachers, I imagine).

  4. I also refuse to let the molders of my world, esp. right now, influence my mood. We will eventually break down the old curriculum to dust, and let happiness and unforced communication rule what we do in our jobs.

    Yes, we have been slaves to the corporate suck-need, their view of education. But that’s what the current crisis is all about. Something new, a very loving and giving version of language education where happiness pervades, is on its way to us.

    Do not despair – I say to all my colleagues that we will gain our freedom from depression and hopelessness as language teachers. Stay the course, be part of we who are redefining language education and stay strong.

    All will be well. The darkest hour is always just before the dawn.

  5. …they could be all having their phones on and browsing Instagram, or whatever, just below the screen surface…

    My new approach guarantees their attention. I give four easy quizzes in one 50′ class period. Eight on the block. But you have to pay attention to pass them.

    1. Can you explain how you give the quick quizzes?

      I’ve been doing quick quizzes but making them oral and not grading them. I might need to change that.

      Also, for the last 5-10 minutes of my 60 minute classes, we do one of the following paper and pencil activities: Fill-in-the-blank, unscramble the sentences, or separate the words activity, or a dictation if there is more time. They hold their work up to the camera and I screenshot it.

      1. The Zoom format has the first quiz in Phase 3, the second in Phase 4, and the third and fourth in Phase 5.

        Info on how I set up my quizzes in terms of testing format:


        While detailed information about the available tech options is outside the scope of this book, I’d like to point you in the right direction.

        First of all, your physical classroom quiz writer will probably need a “low-tech” quiz. It’s important that you use an online quiz tool that she feels comfortable with and then consistently uses. No need to overwhelm your quiz writer with different online quiz sites.

        If your quiz writer experiences “tech-overwhelm” just thinking about doing an online quiz, you have a few options:

        a. Turn to your edtech coach for help (assuming you have one at your school).
        b. Every online quiz site has a support section which provides a very good demonstration of how to use the tool.
        c. You can go to YouTube and type in the search box – tutorial + name of quiz tool.
        d. You can assign a student the job of “tech-expert” and have them choose the tool and teach a student (and yourself!) how to use it.
        It’s important to pick an online quiz tool that you feel comfortable with and then consistently use that one tool. No need to overwhelm your students with different online quiz sites.

        One of the main advantages of online quizzes is that there is automatic grading for yes/no or multiple-choice questions. Students like getting immediate results and you also have the ability to download a spreadsheet with their grades.

        In addition, some online quizzes have gamification elements so the students have fun taking the quiz and so it becomes a welcome break for the students.

        There is a plethora of online tech tools that can do the job but you only need ONE so don’t start looking at a million options! Here are a few suggestions to help you get started. Every day, there are more new options to pick from!

        1. Socrative – Socrative is an easy to use platform and you can have students answer independently or you can ask one question at a time and see everyone’s answers on the screen.
        2. Google forms – Many of you might already be familiar with google forms, particularly if you use google classroom.
        3. Quizizz – Quizizz has a lot of gamification features or as they say “bells and whistles” and the student is also ranked on how fast they answered the quiz. Quizizz integrates with google classroom.
        4. Kahoot – Kahoot is another gamified popular quiz platform which integrates with google classroom.
        Below is a document that shows you how to prepare a quiz in Socrative. The first thing you need to do is open up a free account as a teacher and then this document will show you how to create a quiz.
        [credit: Sara Tilleman]
        3-How to create a quiz with Socrative.docx
        To see online quizzes in action in an online World Language class, see the videos provided at the end of this book as well as these two samples:

        I generally ask five questions in an e-quiz setting.

        The Class Quiz

        As stated, the Class Quiz happens both online and in a classroom setting. Here’s how it works:

        1. In a physical setting, the Quiz Writer hands you the questions that she wrote in English during the Create. Online, she sends it to you via text or email.
        2. Once you have the questions, read them to the class, translating them into the TL on the spot. This Class Quiz is really nothing more than a group quiz.
        3. The students answer as a group in the Zoom format with thumbs up if the answer is yes, and thumbs down if no.
        4. The teacher simply looks at the class and forms an opinion as to whether the class as a whole has a grasp on the material. Of course, if the teacher has been properly trained in the art of Category A teaching, then their instruction has guaranteed a very high accuracy of responses. That is why we keep everything simple, because nothing counts more than your students’ confidence. Note in this schema that the teacher bears full responsibility to be clear in order to guarantee the students’ success.
        5. It is not possible to grade a Class Quiz like this, especially. online. No matter. Just give the quiz, watch the overall response of the class, give all the involved students a good grade after class, and move on with your day.

        1. This is all great stuff, Ben. Thanks for copying and pasting from your book.

          The “thumbs up or down” approach to class quizzes is good. My classes are under 20 students, so I’m able to get a good sense as to who is participating in these quizzes. I’m not sure that’s so possible with classes over 30. I’d love to hear from teachers who have big classes on if and how they do such quizzes.

          I also have students write “Yes or No” in the chat box. Then, after a few of those questions, I’ll ask them to choose and write the best answer, in the chat box. Like, “Did Risikat drink green tea or black tea?” (By the way, Risikat is awesome. She is taking on the actor role. It’s so very nice to have at least one or two students in the class that are 100% willing to play the game with me online.) If need be, after class I can go over students answers in the chat box and see who responded.

          I’m avoiding other apps, like Kahoot. My problem is that I want to create the quizzes on the spot, in the middle of the class. So, going to Kahoot and writing in the questions in the middle of class is too time consuming. I wonder, though, if anyone has a neat, techie way of writing quick quiz questions ON THE SPOT where all students can write in their answers. Emphasis on QUICK.


  6. …It’s kinda invasive to have all your peers staring at you, in the face…

    What are we teaching them, then? The language? Is that what they need from us? No. They need to be able to show their faces to other human beings and communicate.

    Another drawback to letting them not show their faces is it goes against the standard and the way people learn languages. The empty black square where their name is written is something to change. It shouldn’t be allowed.

    What else do we teach them when we allow them to not show their faces? That what we say isn’t important.

    1. Ok. This is good, Ben. Thanks for the quick response. I need help thinking about this.

      I don’t know if we’re talking about the same thing, though. I’m talking about students not being able to see each other, just being able to see me. I DO want to see all their faces. They have such an aversion to showing their faces that… well… I just don’t know what to do. Maybe after awhile they’ll see their grades as Ds or Fs and come along. But there is a real strong aversion to showing their face. One girl told me there’s some beef she has with another student in class and talked with our principal about not showing her face. That’s just one example.

      So, Ben, do you think it’s critical that all students in the class see the faces of all their peers during class time? Or is it okay for them to just see me?

  7. I’m no expert but as long as you can see all of them and they can see you, it’ll work. I didn’t mean to give the impression that they all needed to interact with each other. Just you and them, with you being the focal point for each one of them, from which position you can grade them using the rubric (used to be jGR here on the PLC, now I call it the Communication Rubric.)

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben