Procedural Question

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17 thoughts on “Procedural Question”

  1. I lean heavily towards preferring more content. Especially in this new intimate setting: that is, even if I miss an entry, more people are commenting more often about what strikes them, what occurs to them, and thus more “memes”/ideas/what-have-you get returned to the fore.
    I do have more chaotic sensibilities, but I sort of feel that all these different strands will inform the [for me] Mega Strand of Assessment and Classroom Management–

  2. I also lean towards more content; I hate to think I’m missing anything. Some blogs I will scan briefly, while some I will read and re-read. But then, I also have chaotic sensibilities…

  3. Sounds good. I’ll go back into the labyrinthe. Chaos reigns there, for sure. It’s like going to a Susan Gross workshop – always something new you hadn’t thought of to inform the Mega Strand, which is a term I quite like. But that means y’all need to send me stuff in email form also, that I can turn into blog posts.

  4. The labyrinth here is neither chaotic or random. It’s stochastic. The arrangement of the striking arrows comes from their being aimed at a bulls-eye, in our case one that is often not fully known. The aiming promotes analysis of that arrangement, gives at an order which in turn can reveal the bulls-eye we really need to hit. Something like that. Am I stretching that a little too far?

  5. I personally don’t think so, Frank. It is pretty accurate, really, in the sense that I set out in 2007 to write down anything and everything that worked for me in my classroom. The reason was selfish – I learn by writing.
    Then I think it was Bryce who started writing stuff and the two of us realized we could share our thoughts. If you think about that, it is not common. Some of the blog members here have absolutely no one to share their ideas about teaching with. Think about that in this cookie cutter educational world we now find ourselves in! Surrounded by droid teachers smiling at us but thinking we are not doing it right because we are not doing it like they are.
    But I had Bryce and Susie. I wasn’t alone in those early days. I remember the first time I saw Bryce we were following Blaine around the foreign language deparment at East High School as he gave master classes. Bryce always stood in the corner of those crowded rooms with his cowboy hat on. I thought, “This guy is a cowboy, not a teacher. He looks like he wrestles steers for a living.”
    All this happened nine years ago at the no longer held “Colorado TPRS Conference” where we shared a room in Colorado Springs. We were still learning then, following Susan Gross around wherever she went. One night we talked until the wee hours of the morning and ended with each of us saying groggily to each other just before falling asleep, “I just want to help other people … (learn about this)….” But the last words we couldn’t get out because we were both so tired and so we fell asleep.
    Bryce and I always reference that moment now on bike rides and all. We had both said the same thing almost in the same moment before falling asleep. At that point I was about a year into my training with Susie, and in my 25th year of teaching, and it was in those first moments of speaking with Bryce that I first had hope that I could stay in my career. Susie had pointed the way, but since Bryce and I were just discovering this new world we bonded as rookies do.
    It was quite a thought for a burnt out old French teacher, that I could enjoy my work. That was all due to Susie, that hope. It’s her style. She says things about TPRS in a way that are so clear, so possible, and that make so much sense. There is no one like her.
    If you don’t believe me go to NTPRS this year and you will know why I feel like I owe her my career. But, by definition as you say Frank, this stuff is NOT random. It’s just that we can’t see the target. That is it exactly, Frank!
    How odd that we are literally shooting at a goal that we can’t see but that we know is there! That’s the spiritual part for me, the service to others part, the life is a wonderful game part of having fun trying to find things that are hidden, sometimes with my hands wringing in despair and bowing down on my knees begging, asking, for SOMETHING, SOME WAY, to see the children in my world find and develop hope in themselves.
    I could go off right now on how some teachers, so secure in their ways, are making kids suffer. That is the nut of it for me, the whole deal. I don’t like those teachers. I know they are unconscious, but knowing that doesn’t change the fact that kids are suffering by the millions in those kinds of classes.
    I honor their right to teach as they see fit, but not at the expense of children. This is NOT just another way of teaching – it is far from just another way of teaching and I won’t mention Myriam Met’s name here. Those days are over.
    Hence the labyrinthe of blog posts in mostly unfinished form stored luckily in my mail account or otherwise they would be long eaten by the virus that ate my computer last week. It’s time to get them and start dusting them off. Each one, like all the blog posts already published here, are just attempts at grasping for clarity over all these years now. Because this stuff is so radical that you kind of have to chuck everything you ever learned about teaching and start anew.
    All those years trying out what Susie said. Class after class after class after class. Scribbling down every new idea that occurred to me, even during class, because that is when all the learning usually occurred for me, right during class after class after class after class after year after year after year. Stuff about technique, of course, but mainly about personalization, about how to get their hearts to open up so we all could breathe a little even though we were in a school.
    There were great moments when something Susie taught me clicked or where some insight was clearly given on how to reach those kids. There were also moments when I wished I’d never heard of Blaine Ray.
    It was all driven by something greater than Blaine and Krashen. I know that I am not alone here. SOMETHING must happen before too long or we are going to lose our kids – just flat out lose them. And that is why master teachers like Laurie Clarcq are my heroes in life, because Laurie makes no secret of her priorities.
    It is this heart quality that is the invisible bulls eye that you speak of Frank, right? It is invisible and it will always be invisible – and it is the goal of this blog. It feels good to say these things. We need to say them from time to time to remember that our purpose here is to help and serve others and not help and serve those who would attack our ideas like those who did so in those harrowing days around Christmas when I thought I was losing it because of those attacks on me and the method.
    It is so nice to be able to say now that the only people I am talking about this fine stuff with are my brothers and sisters, my fellow knights. Make no mistake – what we are doing is no game for the fainthearted. Diana Noonan is a one woman wrecking crew on bad teaching. Look in her eyes and you will see it.
    Now, with all this said, I look forward to keeping on shooting these arrows at their invisible target. Going back into the labyrinthe of partially written blog posts and bringing them back to life.
    We all know that this work we are doing is important and special, for lack of a better word. It is so special to me, at least, that I don’t even want to see the goal. That would make it just another job.
    All I want to do is just want to bow my head in front of each class I ever teach again in the spirit of service described above. What is going on here is way too big for me, for us, to do as mere human beings. We can’t do it. It’s too big.
    We work in the area of making kids think and feel and believe that they have value. It’s not the TPRS or the CI or Krashen or Blaine. I must say again: we work in the area of making kids think that they have value. What greater thing is there to do than that? Wow, that turned out to be a ramble.

    1. Thank you for your ramble, Ben. “Making kids think and feel and believe that they have value” is a goal that every teacher (Waldorf or not) should aim at.
      As for the original question, I think more content would be good even if not every post will be for every one. Everybody learns in his own way, in his own speed, and has to deal with his own difficulties.

  6. I appreciate longer threads of comments on a single issue, and especially if there are links to related posts. (My “to file” folder on my desktop is already bulging with a variety of topics to organize and use.) But I can also pick and choose from this prolific blog.
    Ben, can you post a link to the ongoing discussion about assessment that you refer to? Thanks
    Ben Lev

  7. I’m all for content and chaos as well. I think, as Andrew said, with the new format, most of us probably want and in my case, NEED, more content. I’m trying to do a lot of reassessing and processing this summer before stepping back into the classroom, and this blog is my daily (nightly) professional development.

  8. Also Dori don’t forget to go back and read stuff from past years by doing a search or clicking on a category. Hey Dori, I can’t wait to find out how things have unfolded there in Parker since our visits (2006?) – that’s five years!

  9. I love all of it. I know that doesn’t help in terms of decision-making, but I never know when I will need “topic x” or “topic y,” and as usual whatever I happen to need on any particular day is what shows up…”coincidentally ” ;)This blog (meaning the forum and the group) has completely resuscitated me as a teacher. Well, no. I can’t even say that, because I have never really considered myself a “real teacher” because of all the fake stuff I’ve felt pressure to do. So I guess I discovered I’m a real teacher and I don’t have to pretend otherwise! It’s pretty simple: a bunch of people supporting each other to remain grounded in a heart-centered teaching practice! So, lots of content sometimes and lots of depth sometimes…it’s all just right. 😀

  10. Wow, Jen. I can’t tell you how much it means to me to hear you say that. I never felt like I was a real teacher either. I always felt like I was doing something wrong and that my colleagues had everything all together because of the way they walked down the hallway with so much confidence. Do you know that walk? I could never walk down the hallway like that. And I also always felt like such a klutz with the book that they employed with such power. I could never use the book with such skill. And they were infinitely better than me at assigning homework. I sucked at that, too. But then I started to ask myself, “Confidence about what? Making all but a few of the kids feel like they can’t begin to succeed at languages even though they already speak one fluently?” But still, when I read your words above, thinking back on the decades spent totally alone with those colleagues, my heart softens in a certain way.

    1. Yeah, the whole vibe around teachers who have an agenda that they stick to no matter what. I am really bad at that, because I just love to see what emerges on any given day. The “real teachers” with the plans and the whip-cracking, herding students through “the material they need to know by a certain date” are the ones that “the kids respect” because they know what they have to do to succeed. It’s all black and white and you either follow the directions or suffer greatly. I have always felt very queasy about this, especially for a language, which is not a “subject,” “an accumulation of information” or “a cute trick to impress your friends in an ethnic restaurant.” Gah! Don’t get me going on this. Did you see the NY times article last week on bilingualism? Bleh! Anyway. Most of how I’ve felt as a “teacher” is that I’m still the kid while everyone else has somehow gotten the memo about being a grown-up. I am closely (maybe too closely for some folks) in touch with my “inner 13-14-15-16-year-olds” but I can’t help it. I love being with my students and they know it. Now I have support from all of you to continue to be present first and foremost, AND to fill the air with the delight of language with the sole purpose of connecting with and honoring each student!
      Sorry to ramble, but I’m feeling all of this acutely as I spend time with a dying friend. There is really nothing like birth and death to bring everything into sharp focus. I’m spending lots of time noticing how really and truly presence is everything. And we tend to be so present with people in the beginning and end of life, yet in the middle we somehow are ok with letting folks flail about. As a few of us sat yesterday and were “just” there chatting, laughing, sitting in silence sometimes, it felt so good to BE THERE! And I knew that it made my friend feel loved and supported by our presence. She smiled, she slept, she laughed, she chimed in on some of the conversation. It was all very sweet. No agenda. No “trying to say the right thing.” No trying to force a particular topic. As I drove home I thought about this and wondered “what if we treat each other in this way all the time, instead of just at the beginning and end of this life?”

      1. Ah, so I am not the only one.
        “Most of how I’ve felt as a “teacher” is that I’m still the kid while everyone else has somehow gotten the memo about being a grown-up”. The day I lose all my childlike wonder and appreciation for the absurd is the day I need to leave the classroom.
        I am 51 years old and have only been teaching for three years–went back to finish college at the same time as my oldest sons. I know what you mean about the “real teachers” whom kids respect. It is hard being a flawed, imperfect human being in the classroom. Or maybe it is only hard to admit it. But it doesn’t matter. I’ve stopped justifying what I do to the textbook, grammarphiles because I realize the difference–now, finally–between knowing about a language and actually knowing it. It is like the difference between reading about home-grown peaches and biting into one. The real peach is messier, but far more satisfying.

        1. Lori I am certainly no psychologist, and this could be way off, but I have heard the term being “split off” from one’s self. I can’t help but think that there are no small numbers of people who have split off from the true goal in teaching of service to others, in this case others in the form of youngsters. Again, this is out of my area of expertise, but when one looks at the carnage of kids lying sprawled out behind those purposeful strides of some of these language teachers, I can’t help that those teachers have no idea that they are actually helping very few students succeed. It’s such a loss. It’s hard enough for kids to find things that they are good at these days. They call kids stupid and incapable when they themselves are wrong. They have to be split off from what they know is best. They must be.

  11. Jen that makes me think of what Mosiah said about what he is aware of when he is teaching – that sense of awareness, of being there with the person with no agenda, of respect. As in:
    “Conversation differs from other forms of interaction (interview, debate, symposium, negotiation, consultation) by its familiar nature, improvised and free: not one of the things that make it up is decided in advance and it has no other permanence than its own practice, it is divorced from any planned outcome. Its principle motivating force is pleasure.”
    How far we have come from that sort of thing in our classrooms, and yet we teach languages!
    God bless you and your friend as she transits! It sounds as if you are aware of Stephen and Ondrea Levine’s work – that book “Healing into Life and Death”.

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