Report from the Field – John Krueger

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7 thoughts on “Report from the Field – John Krueger”

  1. John the fact that you made it through the first three days is a great start. It took me a long time to get anything that felt like command over CI and I think it’s because this work is so visceral and body centered and we’re not used to that.

    We’re also not versed enough in the concept of simplicity that is so necessary in this work. Staying in bounds, ending class with less than five new words on the board, only speaking to them in language that they have already experienced (thus implying exponential growth after a long flat line), all of these things are just too new to you.

    I applaud your report. Its honesty carries within it the seeds of mastery. It is teachers who can embrace the failings and stumblings that happen now in the heginning of learning how to do this work who will succeed. There is no easy mastery of anything, and one has to be willing to wait and continue on each day until the pedagogy is felt in the cells of the body, where language lies, and not just in the brain.

    Doing this work is a growth process of shifting one’s awareness as an instructor to visceral, body-based, heart-based awarenesses. It’s not easy. But we weren’t meant to live in our minds in schools. That’s over.

    So restrict your instruction to fewer words by shifting your awareness to feeling what is going on, and learn to release the need to “teach something” and instead embrace and follow anything that has energy as you go along in class.

    But your comment about just chilling and giving it time is perfect. Steady as she goes. Nothing good happens fast.


    1. If I may add to what Ben is saying here regarding what to do when a student offers, “he sleeps with a Manga body pillow,” with the notion that this work is visceral and body centered. I don’t blame you if you furrow your brow at that one. “Huh?” But it makes total sense when you get a chance to experience it. To experience letting go completely of intellectual analysis or worry of where to go next while you are in the moment, having a conversation or co-narrating a story, in class. We can think of it like a improv game. Like Comedy Sports. You keep the energy positive. You say, “Yes. And…” You either take it or leave it. But acknowledge it for sure. Maybe even sit on that phrase, “he sleeps with a Manga body pillow,” repeating it every so slowly. Writing it on the board. Chorally reading it. Calling up your mother on the phone, like Jeff said here the other day, to repeat that phrase. Maybe drawing it. Ideas will come.

      Knowing that there is an end to this masterpiece – that is the classroom session on that day, at that time – also gives us comfort. If it’s Card Talk, we can end it whenever we fall flat. We can just move on to another card. If it’s a mini-story, we know we are relatively quickly looking for a problem and a solution to the problem, then done. If it’s an OWI, Ben gives us items to cover. ICC as well.

      Ben used to call it the Pure Land: those moments in class when your students have escaped with you into the never-never world of L2 conversation. They are wonderful moments to experience. And like with any professional artist or game player, it does take practice to have those moments of bliss. For many of us, it’s a practice of reprogramming our teaching brains, a practice of affirming ourselves as beautiful, knowledgeable, radiant beings, and it’s a practice of arming ourselves with the courage to teach this way despite the thicket of voices and factors and systemic oppression keeping us from doing so.

  2. Sometimes I think a class has gone badly but the kids don’t! Even when they look bored often they are internally digging it! At least you didn’t make them do worksheets for an hour. I know that panicked feeling, it gets better, promise!! Keep up the good work!

  3. Dear John

    I read your message with some anxiety as I am starting at the end of next week with NCTI. I expect it will be up and downs during the year. However, I am determined to ditch the textbook and fill in the blanks exercises.

    I am a German language teacher based in the Netherlands. I do not know any German language teacher picking up NCTI here. I would love to team up occasionally, share ideas, materials (and miseries ;p).

    If you are interested, please feel free to email me at

  4. Hey John, I’m right there with you! After 13 years of textbook bondage, I made the decision late last year as Department Chair to “drink the Koolaid” and go all-in on NTCI with all our classes. Now we feel like like brand-new teachers! Nervous butterflies on the way to school, feeling overwhelmed, terrified, and exhilarated all at the same time. But we’re slowly getting it, and so will you.

    Finally, keep in mind your #1 priority right now is not to deliver CI, but to build a positive classroom community, hammer away at rule #2, and train your students to just relax and soak it all in. Honestly, no one is going to remember these early stories come June. But no one will ever forget the incredible journey that you are leading them on. Steady on, you got this!

  5. David your support of NTCI and pep talk above would not have happened here even a few years ago. It makes me very happy. I used to think that it was possible to count the amount of NTCI teachers on one hand. Maybe now it’s two! I just wrote a few articles on stress and in the most recent one here I linked targeted instruction to higher stress levels. May I ask where you teach and maybe tell the group about your team? And send them a message from us. Here’s the message: if your entire team in your building is doing NTCI, then you will succeed beyond your wildest dreams. David if you send me the email addresses of your team I will send them my four latest books (the heavy hitters on NTCI written over the past five years) to them electronically so they all have copies, and also I will send free membership in this PLC.

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