Report from the Field – Angie Dodd

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11 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Angie Dodd”

  1. …just have comprehensible conversations and then make them into readings….

    That’s really it, Angie, for me anyway. Thank you for taking the time to let the rest of us know what we missed. Now skip and Beth will have to deal with 250 people next year!

  2. It was so different from other language conferences. It was not just a bunch of people who happened to sign up for the same session and walk out when class was over. It was by and large a group of team members on a mission. As Skip pointed out all presenters are teachers. We were all explorers with different levels of experience trying to help each other. As Angie said, she was put on the Q&A panel with Sabrina, Anne, and Carrie. And every one of them shared such wisdom in response to our questions. I went away humbled by the authenticity and vulnerability of every I had the privilege to speak to. There was a networking, but it was more relational than professional; more a wanting to keep in touch and support/learn from each other more than for future professional backscratching. And between Skip’s passion and Beth’s smile we knew we were in the right place.

    1. That was a very illustrious committee, no doubt, teachers who have been in the trenches for a long time and mastered some hard stuff to master. But adding Angie, who quit her job in despair less than two years ago, was a brilliant move. Angie represents so many people who are new to this, but the way she reacted to all the new information is not common. I have seen such courage in others. She is not the only one, but she is the standard bearer. Hers is a quality of refusing to be defeated by the learning curve. Over the past two years Angie had the courage and insight to completely re-educate herself about teaching languages on a foundational level. She threw out everything she ever knew and the kitchen sink with it. That was a courageous act. So, learning from her and including relatively new people in that discussion is huge. We need to keep that in mind as we go forward in planning trainings. The old model of the experts delivering the goods is just so old. The new model is that we are all in this together, there are no experts, only people who have been doing it longer. That is a seismic shift and will speed up the number of teachers doing this work effectively. In that sense, what skip and Beth have done in Maine is unlike the other trainings offered, those in the summer, because of what is described above, for example in Nathaniel’s statement that the networking was more “relational than professional”, which was a huge point to make and an indicator of how problems will be solved in the future in all professions. The Maine Conference offers the best training on comprehensible input methods in the world. Nothing else comes close, in my opinion.

  3. This was one inspirational and invigorating weekend. I never got the “conference” feel either, it was more like sitting in Beth and Skip’s living room with great friends sharing our knowledge (or lack thereof, LOL), and most of all, feelings. It was wonderful to meet, finally, all the amazing people I have come to regard as my friends without a face here on the blog. I am so grateful to all of you.
    Gotta go and spread the love among my students.

  4. I echo what everyone has said. It was not a huge surprise to me to feel like I had a home. This was my 3rd Maine conference with Skip, and it truly is a unique “conference” experience because everything offered there comes straight from the heart. You can feel the true purpose of communicating in a language by the tone and the vibe that naturally ripples out from Skip and Beth.

    I made a last-minute decision to sneak into Anne’s session. It all resonated instantly, and I loved being able to experience Anne in real life for the first time! I had met her 2 years ago but she did not present at that time. What a gift she offers! Her session gave me a reassuring feeling, as I head into Friday presenting at the NH conference trying to drown out the voices in my head “Who am I to present?” “I am not an expert!” etc… My session is pretty much what she did, a demo in TL so ppl can feel what it’s like. The thing I have been most nervous about is that I am not doing a powerpoint. I really just want to do the live interaction. That is exactly what Anne did and it really gave me a huge sense of relief. I am also extremely right-brained, as Anne mentioned (many times!) she is, so the whole experience basically gave me permission to be myself.

    I wish I had been at the Q&A to get a sense of how that went. And at that time I was totally loving the coaching session, so no regrets there! I got a TON out of how Laurie set up the coaching, and then the next day when we met, how it could go deeper and deeper, always according to what the teacher wants and is ready for.

    Bottom line from the whole weekend: we have to treat ourselves with the same compassion we treat our students! Like them, we each have our own timeline and are where we are on the journey so don’t get caught in the “should” trap!

    If anyone would like someone in their classroom, let me know. I am eager to practice coaching! Since I don’t have a classroom of my own right now I have some flexibility.

    Many thanks to all of you! <3

    1. The difference between using a Power Point to present and getting them involved in some CWB or doing a story is that the former is boring and the latter is interesting. Why? Because when we demo comprehensible and personalized input we are able to hook their interests in. That is where the power comes from.

      Love this:

      …we each have our own timeline and are where we are on the journey so don’t get caught in the “should” trap!…

      Most people who are new to this work were four percenters in the past. Now they see the logic of this new way of teaching, and it conflicts with where they have been as students and teachers up to the point when they go to their first conference. It can be like an earthquake. So then they start “shoulding” themselves and it can get kind of brutal because this is not an easy way to teach at first. (Later, it is heavenly simple). But that point is a good one, jen. We learn that we are not achieving mastery over a method, but rather learning to pardon our own weary selves in this work when we aren’t the best at it. We learn to avoid thinking in terms of some ideal way to do it, and we gradually learn to accept that this is a process and not a method and to be kind to ourselves as we go forward into our careers, with hope.

    2. JEN – I missed the coaching Saturday afternoon when Sabrina and I went to catch the bus for the airport — THAT is what we went there for Saturday morning! I thought it was going to be like Ben’s war room from this past summer, which I missed due to a “no-conference” summer 🙁 I desperately NEED coaching. You know I have reverted back to that 4″ binder of worksheets because I just don’t know what I am doing anymore – can you PLEASE come and coach me? -Before I start in with the Preterite vs. Imperfect…… Please?
      Brigitte – when is your NY coaching session? I just might have to come down!!! 🙂

  5. A big thing I took out of this conference as something I immediately went back and applied in my own teaching were points I took from when Claudette Moran was being coached by our small group. 2 things she did I felt the power of and knew I needed to do more of it.

    1. Proximity – move around the classroom and minimize distance between everyone. This, combined with teaching to the eyes, made it so much more authentic.

    2. Emotion – in our tone of voice, in our face, and in our gestures.

    I’ve gotten rid of desks, we sit in a circle, but it can be even better if that circle is made tight and if I move around in it and get closer to each student. Then, I can increase student engagement with my voice.

    And the other thing I saw I needed to do more of was paralleling characters and PQA. Sabrina used the MovieTalk as a way to do both. Every time PQA is demoed for me, I remember how good it feels for us to be the ones talked about. We really do want to use the language as a means for getting to better know our students and as a means of celebrating our students.

  6. I agree, Eric, about needing to remember about more parallel characters and PQA. I never seem to do enough of that, especially as the story goes on. We just move along in the story. I think I have been relying a lot on the reading stage and could do more before I get there. How many times do I need to hear these things? Lots, until the ideas really fall on fertile ground. I really hear when I am ready to take it in, step by step, just like the kids.
    It’s good to see someone doing it smoothly. I could use a good demo or two once a month.

    Simple and strong. I need to remember that if it’s not simple and strong, then I should change something. Simple and Strong with Simple being the key.

    Another thing I brought home was the idea that it’s okay to just stop a story if it’s losing momentum and to say, that’s enough for now, and then work with what we’ve got. No need to feel like something is going wrong. That will help with the narrow and deep, too. It felt just right to do that today a few times and to know we’ll go back the next time and take up where we left off, or take up somewhere.

    One more thing. I wish I could have met everyone from our PLC who was at the conference. I know I missed some key people, like Brigitte, you shared your whole folder of French stories with me a while ago, and I didn’t even meet you.
    It was a delight to meet all of you I did meet and talk with.

  7. The conference inspired me to get back on the blog! It has been awhile since I’ve been on here– just so busy these days. Loved seeing everyone and I, too, loved being in Anne Matava’s class. I picked up so much german in only a couple of hours! I’m going around my house saying “Da catse pinkled en de shoen. das ist nicht gut! da lerher ist sauer. da pinkle shtict!” No idea about the spelling… but the cat pees in the shoe. this is not good. the teacher is mad. the pee stinks.
    So fun to be a student!

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