Long Prayer for a Sunday Night

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19 thoughts on “Long Prayer for a Sunday Night”

  1. This really resonated with me. I’m not an especially religious person, but I do offer up a silent prayer of sorts sometimes before class, often before my most difficult class, that I will be able to be the teacher my students need that day, whatever that means. I sometimes feel so inadequate. I know this Ci stuff is good, I just don’t know if I am good enough at it. But I can get better. There are moments of light in the darkness. Looking forward to summer trainings already…

    1. Carly, for many of us, we work in almost impossible school cultures to make CI happen. Especially in high school where so many of our students have a lifetime of feeling inadequate and uninspired by school. Know you are doing tremendous things if you can talk to kids and they can understand you. Even if a little bit. I often find peace in thinking about how many students will remember us and our classes years from now, decades from now, as a place where they found out that they could learn a foreign language if they really wanted to. (And maybe they will when they turn 40!)

  2. Carly, you said it exactly right, “I know this Ci stuff is good, I just don’t know if I am good enough at it. But I can get better.”

    That’s what I’m striving for this year. To learn and get better. I know I’m going to make mistakes, but I’m hoping that the days I get it right will be greater than the days I get it wrong. I hope.

    At the end of the day when I’m exhausted and reaching out for support in my department, I sometimes hear “oh just go back to the old way.” But every time I’ve responded, “No! I don’t want to go back.” Then I log in and get great support and ideas.

  3. It was hard getting to school this morning. I feel there are so many challenges to face, like you meditate on in this prayer.

    Perhaps not super motivational, but this also reminds me of an article I read about the people who live on the island of Sardinia, in the Mediterranean Sea, and their life span. They have long life spans. The article attributed that to their slow life style. They described the shepherds who walk their flocks of sheep up and down the hillside on a daily basis. I find peace and energy in this.

    1. Sean as I see it we are shepherds who don’t get to walk those easy hills. We must strive to find the peace and balance within. That is our only choice in this most serious game we play. It is a new idea in teaching, perhaps, the idea that we can, in the midst of the most extreme emotional and psychological pressures, find a sense of rest even during the most hectic days. That is the challenge before us, and Sean over all these years I think your teaching style most represents that idea. Before, I had no hope as a teacher. Now, I have hope with non-targeted. It’s what you always have done, I feel, anyway. Am I right on that?

      It is all up to us. We can find peacefulness or not. It’s up to us. We now have the method, in my opinion, for those willing to dig deep into non-targeted. Those who dive deep into the ocean will find the pearl, those who have the courage to DUMP all the old thinking about CI and finally align with the research in an honest way, will be able to do this. It means re-centering our instruction from the mind back to the heart. Do-able.

      I don’t know why we don’t talk about NT more here these days. What is up with that?

      1. Yes, NT and classroom management are the two things which are giving me a kind of freedom I have never experienced at school before.
        This is my second day after our Christmas break and I just can’t bring myself to do SL or an OWI with my classes and have decided to just chat in L2 to them about their holidays and see what comes up or where this will take us.
        The older I get the more I feel the need to ease back into teaching mode and not try to take my usual leap thereby disregarding my inner being. What’s the rush anyway? Do I think my kids learn less when I don’t teach; that is stress myself? I don’t think so but old habits are hard to break. So I wish all of you who are working on breaking old and wrong believes and methods hte strength to break through. This from someone who still doesn’t dare to do full blown Invisibles.

        1. I know the self-guilt feeling you describe above, Udo. It’s like you “should be teaching”. But that is not true. You should be “present” for them, far more importantly than any teaching. You know this and it is a wonderful thing to see you breaking the old habit. It is a kind of collective habit that all teachers have, so when you break it, when you just hang out with them w/o feeling guilty that you are not teaching, you are very likely helping, at the level of the collective unconscious, at least ten others to break through as well. We cannot know the effects of our struggles on others, but my belief is firm that we are all connected and that our own struggles, that feeling of aloneness in the classroom, is all worth it. We cannot know how we are all connected, but there is a web and any movement at one end causes movement at the other end, even if we don’t know it. It’s a grand thing, like any meaningful change that happens as part of humanity’s current upliftment. It seems like travail and suffering, but in my opinion it is the travail of a new and much happier world order, where teachers see students as real people. THAT is the beauty of this NT thing – it tears us away from the illusion that we can teach a language w/o first building community. We are so lucky to be involved in this change. We are being handed gold every day in our classrooms – our students are the gold.

          1. Thanks Ben for your wonderful and supportive reply!

            And I just have to say this again: This is the professional and humane group of language teachers I’ve been looking for all my life. I appreciate the ‘realness’ with which all of you are engaged here, telling frankly about successes (easy) and failures and insecurity (not so easy).
            I wish all of you the strength to pull through the hard times and never fully forget during those times that we are interacting with human beings that need us to see that it’s not worthwhile to be like a robot bc then they are missing out on the joy of being alive.

  4. thinking aloud here…

    Ok. Since you mention NT, Ben, I sitting at me teacher desk trying to think of some options to do after I tell my 10 minute mini-story at the beginning of class, like Dr. Mason does. I’ve heard that after these StoryListening sessions teachers let students write to retell in L1 for 2-3 minutes. I wonder if people do this to check students attentiveness and comprehension of the story, or if these retells in L1 have any merit towards students’ language acquisition. I know Dr. Mason also has students write in L1 to describe what they are hearing when they listen to Dr. Mason’s stories. Again, I wonder if this is done purely to keep students attention, that by writing students will keep them awake, or for language acquisition gains.

    What I have been doing after these 10 minute mini-stories is pull out the Quick Quiz sheets and ask simple questions about the story, referring the drawings I drew on the board. That’s been working well, but it’s starting to feel like I need a different post Story Listening activity.

    You know, perhaps what I need to do is entertain comments and questions about the story in English (L1) after I tell it, as a chance to share and connect a little. There’s plenty of time for me to do this in my 100 minute class periods.

    1. HI Sean,

      To me that post SL writing/summary has always been about informing me about how comprehensible I told the story. The 2nd justification is holding students accountable… well at least appearing so.

    2. Yes I agree Sean. Just talk about the story in L1. The big thing to avoid and I thing you read it correctly is that we don’t want the kids to ever feel as if they are being held “accountable”. That is why after 15 years of quick quizzes I stopped doing the quizzes in India. Having them write what they understood is not a good idea either, in my view. It’s too big a topic so I’ll stop here. But my rule of thumb has finally become, “No testing/quizzing/evaluating/judging”. It’s not necessary and it conflicts with research. Why? Because we can’t measure what they learn. It’s all in the unconscious mind. When are we going to get hip to this?

    3. Steven, do you have students read the story after you tell it? I haven’t been for these Story Listening style stories.

      The Quick Quiz slips I use as more of a chance to reflect on the compelling details of the story. I have students shout out the answers after the second time I repeat each statement.

      I’m finding a sort of intuitive need to have some sort of post-storytelling activity. A 5 minute nap after the story might be ideal (lol).

  5. Yes! I almost lost my voice my first year of full-blown CI. I’m so happy I recovered from that spat of laryngitis and that it hasn’t returned. I’ve been careful, for sure! I’m glad this young teacher is posting and sharing and spreading awareness, Greg.

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