Report from the Field – Emeka Debyser

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9 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Emeka Debyser”

  1. Amboise to Chenonceau through fields of sunflowers on a road bike. Even the thought alone gives one to ponder the greatness of life.
    Hey this theme of simplicity is shared by more than just me in our group, Emeka. I wouldn’t even try to complicate the idea by trying to describe it. But one point to make: it doesn’t matter what we are doing. If it’s simple CI, it will work. What is simple CI? It is when we are conscious and aware of what our students are experiencing and adjusting to slower and slower rates of speech to accommodate them. It’s being aware of chunking. It’s walking to the word or person and not taking the highway/laser pointer. It’s being so calm that when we teach the rules in the first weeks they last all year, and kids don’t dare act out because they know they will be met with the smile/rules technique. It’s making our mental health and enjoyment of our kids our top priority and to put to rest once and for all our need to “teach” and just let us be there with our kids and see what comes up. I am so glad you brought this up and thank you for the report Emeka. The entire thing is about awareness of who we are and not getting into being some kind of “teacher” thing. This idea that we are important and it all depends on us is a dangerous one. The language teaches itself but we can bring it in a Rolls Royce if we try, so that our kids are in comfort in our classrooms. This is a HUGE topic and I hope it becomes one of the big new threads for the entire 2015-2016 year.

  2. Emeka, this is such a great letter. It made me so happy to read it, and I don’t even know you. I love everything you said, from your bike rides through the sunflowers to wanting space and simplicity.
    Bonne rentrée!

  3. Emeka: Nice thoughts and I agree on the simplicity thing. We are so bombarded by information on the internet on how do do this and how to do that that I find it often difficult to keep it simple and somehow to “maitriser” – such a great word – to bring into control – all of the things that I want to do in the classroom. I am sure that all of the iFLT participants have seen this but I will repeat it here because it helped me focus on the essential and breathe a sigh of relief. Via Grant Boulanger:
    When ACQUIRING a second language…
    We learn to LISTEN first
    We learn to READ what we listened to
    We learn to WRITE and READ what we read and listened to
    We learn to SPEAK because we heard, read, and wrote it.
    I get the calm down with the posters bit but this seems to be crying out for space on a wall somewhere in my class. I can see an additional poster now – maybe for my plan book “Calm down and simplify!” C’est simple!

  4. I have two posters on my wall (apart from the question words with their translations): my classroom rules and the above “When acquiring…” piece.

  5. About 10 years ago I stopped freaking out about arranging my room for the perfect look the first day of school. I did it for the following reasons:
    1. I was too burnt out to do it.
    2. I was tired of putting in work to “look good” to others.
    3. I was tired of the competition that takes place every September over who has the nicest bulletin boards, doors, etc. People walk around pretending to compliment each other when they are really trying to outdo each other. Over a door. Nope. Not happening.
    4. I didn’t want my students to think that little elves showed up overnight to do the work that teachers do every day. I wanted them to understand that these things take time and effort and do not just magically appear when they aren’t looking.
    5. It was time to let the room creation be part of the community-building aspect of the room.
    6. I wanted the room to evolve with the interests and needs of the students in it. I can’t do that before they show up.
    I still resist the urge every year to go hog-wild-teacher-crazy on the room decorating. (yes…..I dreamed of teaching kindergarten and this hasn’t gone away…) I fight little voices of guilt when I haven’t hung matching curtains and placed color-coordinated authentic decorations just so.
    But……I have found HOURS of peace in which I can do other, more fruitful , things with my time. There was a time when I thought that it couldn’t be done, nor should it be done….but now I enjoy putting out one or two carefully chosen items in order to start the year. And now I never get angry because someone misplaced / broke a treasured item or wrote I <3 Ramon on the corner of my bulletin board.
    As the weeks unfold, the students decorate the bulletin boards, the door etc. They coordinate all of the colored paper and markers and scissors in a system in the room from the box in the back where I packed them up in June. (and they get mad at the kids who don't put things back right)
    They point out when something needs to come down and something else needs to go up. They volunteer to create a birthday calendar and follow it closely so that no one gets missed.
    I've come to love it this way….and I think they do too.
    It's not that the color-coded, coordinated, poster-plastered walls and award-winning bulletin boards were a bad thing…..but I've found so much more to enjoy….and so much less pressure…in this approach.
    with love,

    1. My stomach is churning thinking of all the things I could be working on in preparing for the start of the year. Thanks for helping me find my core again, Laurie, and be at peace. And I’m now considering letting my homeroom kids decorate my walls.
      Emeka, I am working with our newly hired Spanish teacher this week and he is becoming interested in jumping on the TPRS train. I’m trying real hard not to bombard him with info. For now on, I’ll be sure to emphasize the qualities of simplicity and comprehensibility.

  6. Thanks all for supporting this feeling of simplicity. I walked into school this week and the smell triggered a flood of thought patterns–have to do this, should try that…etc. I had to stop and remind myself about the simplicity theme I’m going for. I then proceeded to clear my walls of a lot of “clutter.” It felt good, though it’s a conscious effort and school doesn’t even start for another week and a half. Jim–I got your scripts and I’m looking forward to trying them out!

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