My Mission Statement This Year: SLOW

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14 thoughts on “My Mission Statement This Year: SLOW”

    1. lol I’ve been meditating on SLOW almost exclusively so far this year. I think I might be starting to annoy some of my second year students, who of course come in thinking they own everything. I don’t care, though. I’m going to go slowly. Maybe even too slowly. Better safe than sorry. And it helps establish whose timetable we’re actually on: THE SLOWEST STUDENT’S!

      It’s strange that, when we go so slowly that everyone can understand, the high achievers start feeling threatened. We’ve talked about this before here a lot, and now I’m starting in circles, so I’ll stop.

  1. My second-year students have been working through Anne Matava’s “Is afraid of the package” script. On Monday I was getting ready to move on until I started digging a little deeper and discovered they really hadn’t acquired the structures. So we continued working on the story this week. Today I gave a dictation, which we will go over tomorrow, and (nearly) all of the students said they would not have done nearly as well on Monday. No one in the class indicated boredom, though a couple of students indicated they were ready before today. I asked them if the additional time and repetitions had hurt them in any way, and they said no.

    I’m adding the comment to re-enforce the idea that slow doesn’t refer solely to the pace of an individual lesson. Slow may mean spending more days on something so that students get it. I didn’t get frustrated with taking extra time, and the students remained engaged (because they understood).

    One day, though, I had a tense moment. I wanted to get some actors up in front of the class, and in one of the sections, no one volunteered. No one wanted to do anything. I allowed my frustration to show to the extent of saying, “I don’t want anyone in this class ever to say that German class is boring.” We went on with more repetitions, and then I asked them to do a short re-tell. While they were doing this, I saw my collection of beanie babies and hand puppets (in a hamper on top of a cabinet) and decided to pull out the hand puppets. Then I asked who wanted to run a hand puppet and got lots of excitement. I happen to have a green screen (green sheet), so two tall guys held that up, and we “acted” the story using the hand puppets. Suddenly everyone was having a lot of fun, and I learned something for the future with this class. While they are not willing do live acting, they are eager to manipulate a puppet. I’ll take it any way I can get it. (In the other section, I have a couple of people who are in drama, so there were lots of volunteers to act; I even gave them the option of the hand puppets, but they wanted to do the live acting.)

  2. Actors be actors no matter what they look like.

    SLOW! Thanks for reminding me of that mission. I have a monthly community family class that is pushy to learn (they found me in the woods to come teach them–they aren’t of my tribal town but somehow found out I was learning and teaching Mvskoke). They are all 4% learners (while my own personal tribal town is mostly not). In trying to strike a balance, the lesson they seemed to all get was the slow lesson on He has a cup of coffee, do you want coffee? Why–Slowness and review.

    Oh yeah and that Blaine Ray question asking to the actor where we jump across tenses and verb conjugation in a much more natural way. Like they don’t know why I am saying it different, but then they get it is different and deduce why so they listen more attentively.

    So while I want to make their 2.5 hr. drives for a lesson jammed packed. I am doing them and myself as a teacher a dis-service. My lesson plan just got much easier for this month. REVIEW and even SLOWER.

    None of us succeeds unless all of us succeed.

  3. Being a brand new French teacher (though a 15 year 6th grade teacher) and having started my career as a French teacher a few weeks ago with one Blaine Ray workshop, a small stack of Ben’s books, and this PLC as my sole guides, I can’t not contribute a comment somewhere. One thing I’m thinking about right now is how all these reminders about SLOW and having fun and laughing are keeping me going and believing in what I am doing. Every period isn’t great, but we’re having a good time and I think the kids are really learning. Thank you to all of you very communicative, verbal, and dedicated people.
    Another thing I am thinking relates to the idea of kids taking in what they are ready to take in and us not being so careful about CI. That is reassuring, and it also relates to me and this PLC. I am experiencing that exactly here in this blog. At first I was completely overwhelmed when I joined and started reading everything. Now, with a couple of weeks under my belt, I check in every few days and read something and latch onto whatever makes sense to me now. I suck up whatever I am ready for.
    Thanks again to all of you.

  4. And thank you for being the courageous soul you are to get out there and try it. The community members in this site truly have the best interest of students and teachers at heart. They may rail against the machine and fuss about a class, but you won’t find a finer group of on the cusp of innovation than here. I feel like it was a whole year of Master work in teaching when I came. And good for you to find balance.

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