Carla wrote:
I was telling Carol that standardization is coming to my school district in the worst way. They want everyone teaching the same thing on the same day. So much for teachable moments. It isn’t expected to fully take over world languages until next year, but my principal said if that changed he would call me right away. I started my summer with this info, and it sapped any desire I had to think about school; it just seemed to hopeless. But now that the new year is here, the same old hope is back, a chance to start over with a new bunch of students and see where we can go together. I had a bunch of aha’s at the end of the year that I hope will bring a lot of positive changes.
One of my aha’s came this summer while I wasn’t thinking about school (a teacher never really stops thinking about school I guess…). Simon Sinek who wrote Start with Why had a Ted talk about how to motivate and inspire people. You start with why and work outward towards what and how. Most people and businesses start with how and work inwards toward what and why. If your why is evident in everything you do, people who resonate with it will stand with you. If your why is not evident, or if people don’t like it, they feel manipulated or controlled when you try to get them to move with your how.  So I have been trying to search out my why for Spanish class and figure out how to make it more evident.  It’s so personal. It varies from teacher to teacher.
Another aha came from watching my husband with his grandfather. His grandfather has Alzheimer’s, and keeps wanting to get back to the house to his wife, who died, and is no longer there. And besides, the house is not really habitable. My husband was full of compassion, honesty, patience and even light heartedness in convincing him to stay the night (and gradually, the week) with my in-laws. His grandfather was constantly forgetting their conversations as well as forgetting the past,  so information was not helpful. What Brian told me was that he needed to create an atmosphere of peace and safety for him so that he could rest. He took what his grandfather was emphasizing and used that to create that atmosphere. It’s hard to get across in an email… But I think this applies in the classroom too. My husband’s grandpa needed information appropriate to a 3 year old, and my students need info appropriate to a 13 year old. Both need a safe and peaceful atmosphere.  Brian has been the only one who has been able to do this for his grandpa, and he has done it repeatedly these last two weeks.



8 thoughts on “Standardization”

  1. I LOVE this group because I LOVE my students and this group makes me better for them…. Thank you Carla…. This post hits home for those of us that are dealing with elderly parents. You story is a GREAT reminder and example for how to honor them.
    I wonder if I could have you define the “why” the “what” and the “how” for me?
    Could you give a quick example of each? I am so visual….:(
    Thanks so much for your post…. and for always thinking about school and how to do it better!

  2. Thanks so much for sharing this Carla. You are a fantastic teacher who is so locked into nurturing your students that the focus on family here is entirely fitting as well as moving. I hope all the best to you as you negotiate your new landscape; you’ll do great!

  3. Thanks everybody. I learn so much about nurturing students from being a part of this community. I still have a lot to learn.
    About why, how and what… First, i’m sorry… When i wrote that message, i got the how and what backwards, so wherever you see them, switch them please. That might help it to make more sense. Picture WHAT at the outer edge of an onion. We teach language. That’s what we do. How? (middle of the onion.) We use comprehensible input and try to connect with kids. Why? (the heart of it all) Because they are so valuable. I could almost hear Ben saying, to stop the suffering in schools.
    The thing about your WHY is that has to be real in everything you do. It’s the driving force behind everything. This is why finding your WHY is so personal. I can look a little like Ben for the first week of school, and then when they see the real me, they feel so betrayed… So I have to find my WHY and then never forget it. Simon Sinek talks about business. A typical company would say (what) we make good computers. (how)with these awesome features. Want to Buy one? And they never even get to why. He says Apple is different. They have loyal customers and employees because their WHY is so clear: why? they come against status quo. How? They were the first to make computers for normal humans. ThenThe iPod: not just a 5gb mp3 player, as their competition said, but rather “a thousand songs in your pocket.”. They changed the way things were done. Again with iTunes… No more were you forced to buy an entired album for 2 good songs. Iphone is another… S.S. Says you probably cant imagine waiting in line 6 hours to buy a cell phne from Dell. And Dell failed at mp3 players and maybe flat screen tvs, because they defined themselves as a computer company, and so it just didn’t make sense to buy it from them. Apple changed the way cell phone makers and carriers interacted too. My personal observation is that no one needed or wanted a tablet until Apple made the iPad. Now everyone needs a tablet (apple, android, hp, whatever…) . Apple made them mainstream. their WHAT is making electronic products.
    So what is our WHY as teachers? I’d love to hear what others come up with. The best I can come up with is because students are so valuable. That’s why I have rules, why I give my time, my money and my heart to this. Now the task is to figure out how to make that obvious to the kids in everything that I do.

  4. …so what is our WHY as teachers? I’d love to hear what others come up with….
    Carla, right now and for the past ten electric years it’s been completely about the middle of the onion for me, the how. If there is a why for me, here it is:
    “Some one had blundered:
    Theirs not to make reply,
    Theirs not to reason why,
    Theirs but to do and die.”

    The quotation comes from Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s “The Charge of the Light Brigade” (Stanza 2). Only we know what it is like to charge again into a new year with “”cannon to the right…cannon to the left.. cannon in front, volley’d and thunder’d…”.
    It’s an easy image to find fault with, to ridicule. Ben is comparing teaching to what the Light Brigade did? That’s not an accurate comparison. I say it is and I make no apologies for comparing teaching to physical battle and here is yet another reason to have the membership wall up, so people can’t read this, because what I am saying here is intensely personal to me. Teaching has always scared me. A lot. It’s mental battle and even now after 35 years of this I still feel the fear. Are not schools a battleground on so many levels? Yes they are. So no, I’ll make no excuses for the strength of the comparison – I mean it completely. No hyperbole here. None. We don’t charge in physically, but we charge in everyday onto a kind of unbelievably complex emotional battlefield and
    only a teacher
    can know what that feels like. Why? I’ll find out why later. Right now, it’s sabers up and charge in, we have work to do. Saddle up, everyone. Officers ready, draw sabres….

  5. So true. The ambushes and guerrilla warfare by others seem to catch me off guard every year. By looking at them as part of the field of battle, maybe I won’t take them as personally as I have in the past. At least I know I am not fighting the good fight alone!

  6. No Ardythe you are not alone. We have to keep in our minds that a common battle plan of those who are confronted with new ideas like those Krashen brings is to discredit those who bring them. I heard that there is even a website called “Krashen Bashin'” or something like that. Attacking a man whose impeccable and detailed research has brought great goodness to tens of thousdans of kids already with many more hundreds of thousands to follow – as each year we get our act more and more together in CI based classrooms – can you imagine? Bless those people’s hearts!

  7. Carla, I appreciate the questions and agree that we need to go after pre-suppositions. Whenever I talk about CI-based teaching, I always start with the question of “Why do we do what we do?” There are a couple of ways to understand that question. I usually go after “What is the aim?” You are asking more about the ground, the impulse.
    To answer your question, I teach because I can’t do anything else. Not in the sense of “Those who can do, those who can’t teach”, but in the sense of not being able to imagine doing anything else. Teaching is the ministry to which I am called, and I have the privilege of interacting with young people who are created in the image of God and have tremendous potential for good or ill. I hope to be able to encourage them to choose the good and forsake the evil.
    In keeping with the battle imagery that has been occupying discussion recently, I see myself as striving against an outpost of Camazotz or helping to end the “always winter but never Christmas” rule of the White Witch. And I don’t find Ben’s citation of “The Charge of the Light Brigade” out of place in the slightest.

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