Teacher of the Month – April 2015 – Michael Coxon

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25 thoughts on “Teacher of the Month – April 2015 – Michael Coxon”

  1. Thank you for the kindness Ben.
    All of the things we face as teachers are mentally and emotionally exhausting. I can honestly say that the work, ideas, and information shared in this PLC helps me stay sane. This community makes all of us stronger and better at what we do. In numbers we are stronger and better. It is because of the writing and ideas here by other great teachers that I even bothered to get involved at the state level. It was really the convictions of others that guided me in this battle…
    “I am a strong individualist by personal habit, inheritance, and conviction; but it is a mere matter of common sense to recognize that the State, the community, the citizens acting together, can do a number of things better than if they were left to individual action.”
    -Theodore Roosevelt

    1. So happy Mike is being celebrated!!!
      I love how Mike handled the “bullies” during the ACTFL Oct battle. I think it was Mike who got Arnold to shut it, right when Arnold was trying to play the victim, and Mike did it in such an honest and respectable way!
      What I know about Mike is that he’s super hardworking and dedicated to helping other teachers. He’s been a guiding force on moreTPRS for a while now.
      And though I only know him virtually, I feel like he is one of my close friends. In our personal correspondence, he has been very supportive of me and it feels really good to have Mike in my corner.

  2. I enjoyed reading that ACTFL thread. It was a huge confidence boost to me as I was discovering CI/TPRS as I realized that nobody was able to answer your questions. Congratulations Michael!

    1. …it is because of the writing and ideas here by other great teachers that I even bothered to get involved at the state level….
      The gifted web designer who has put this all together for us, Trevor Van Wyk, mentioned once recently in a discussion this:
      …Ben I have been working on your site for about eight years now and I have come to one conclusion. Those teachers on your PLC are the cream of the cream of the crop. They are the 1% of the 1%…..
      Since Trevor is not even a language teacher (besides being a web designer and business consultant he is also a chiropractor and baseball coach who in college hit a ball into the concessions area of the Super Dome at least 440 feet), I am impressed by what he said.
      The talent in this group is unreal. And it’s going to take unreal talent to pull off what we’re trying to pull off.

    2. …nobody (among the 18,000 member ACTFL Language Educators group) was able to answer your questions….
      Mark thank you for saying that. We have to give the shout out on that deal to Eric Herman. He was the one who KNEW that they had no answer to his initial volley (then backed up by Robert Harrell and Nathaniel Hardt and Mike and Alisa Shapiro and others). But it is Eric who ran across the field first to engage them in what turned out to be hand to hand combat with his research axes flying in every direction as he challenged all 18,000 at the outset singlehandedly. Amazing. I’m glad you figured out what was happening, and I’m always happy to celebrate our totally badass Eric Herman, the Jackal, along with all the other rock star teachers in our midst.

      1. Eric Herman has lit a big old fire under the butts of the language teaching world. Going back to ACTFL, he started asking the big questions and doesn’t have to back down from anyone. He has the ability to synthesize SLA information and process it and then articulate information like nobody. This is all while being a classroom teacher of more than one language in more than one culture.
        If there are any “bad” things about Eric, it is that he is too tenacious too smart and too credible!
        I feel like he sparked others in this PLC to find their tenacity as well…it is like playing hoops with Michael Jordan…everyone plays better and we all win championships!

        1. Awww. You guys. Blushing. I don’t think I actually know much SLA, but I find that’s more than most FL teachers. I will admit to having read A LOT of Krashen 😉 How many other FL teachers have actually read his 1981 and 1982 groundbreaking books? I bet not many.
          I’ve seen VanPatten reference a study by Teschner (1987) in which they surveyed the university language directors and found only 14% had PhDs in applied linguistics. And VP argues that since university staff doesn’t change much, then the situation is much the same. VP wrote: ” . . . if only 14% of language program directors in the entire country are applied linguists, and if there is usually only one person in applied linguistics in a language department, then probably less than 1% of the entire language professoriate in the US is a specialist in applied linguistics related to language learning and teaching” (p .931).
          Hence why no one has much background in SLA.
          Then I asked Krashen recently if there are any PhD programs in applied linguistics he would recommend to which he responded: “I don’t know of ANY departments open to our point of view. . . If you want a graduate degree to learn more, you will probably be disappointed . . . Just learn more statistics and experimental design and read the professional literature, and you will know more than at least 95% of the current professors.”
          So, of those receiving PhDs in applied linguistics, it’s likely not to be CI-friendly.

          1. Eric’s biggest strength is that he has the linguistics piece down and yet chooses to work in the classroom. Most people with advanced degrees in linguistics get real uncomfortable around real students. They can talk the talk but can’t walk the walk. Eric does both without effort and we are all the better for it here.
            It makes me think of Freud and Jung. Freud tried mightily to keep the fledgling field of depth psychology close to science, as close as possible given the nature of the subject matter. Jung bent the science more than the scientists felt comfortable with, and he was treated in the same way that Krashen has been treated by language scientists at the university level.
            The truly great thinkers, many of them anyway, seem to be missed by the herd. I mean, just look at the herd of 18,000 Language Educators being toyed with by about seven or eight of us here last November. It doesn’t say much about them and what their foundations are for what they do in their foreign language classes. Most of the few who have even read Krashen don’t get it – too Jungian.
            I have even seen a few hotshot new hires come into DPS from some fancy East Coast colleges and bristle at Diana Noonan when she says that everything we do in DPS World Languages is totally based on Krsashen. They sit there and bristle. And then they leave. Fishies out of water. They should never have applied. Our mostly urban kids live lives that don’t fit with language teachers who pride themselves on structure. We reach those kids through humor and talking about them all year in class. Linguists Need Not Apply is the general rule here.

  3. I fully admire your grace, integrity, perseverance, and dedication, Michael. I’m very lucky to read your contributions to the dialogue here and to get a chance to participate in that dialogue. I am growing significantly as a teacher as a result.

  4. Mike, I remember meeting you at iFLT. You are a genuine person. I don’t think I could give a more heartfelt compliment than that. Congratulations on this honor, which is really just a recognition of a life of good work. Thank you!

  5. Dancing a happy dance over here in NY!! Once in a while someone will ask me if I think that what we are doing will survive the onslaught of CC etc. And I say, “HECK YEAH!!!!!” Look at all these bright, dedicated, young folks leading the way! Congrats Mike….and thank you so much for what you do and for being you!
    with love,

  6. It has been awesome to read your posts and feel the energy and passion that you bring to your work. In a PLC full of sparkly people, you shine brightly!

  7. Yes! You have certainly inspired myself and others to take a lot more risks in this work. You are one hell of a teacher, my friend, and a real asset to this PLC.

  8. Michael, my impression after meeting you in Chicago at NTPRS last summer was very positive (I mean, you bought me a beer before you even knew me!) and I could tell you knew your stuff, and had the courage to stand up and share it, from experiencing workshop sessions and Romanian class with you. But what you’ve shown us over the last couple months of being on this PLC is that you are ON FIRE, and if I had to surmise I’d say there’s plenty of intrinsic fuel to keep it burning for several lifetimes.
    I’ve been participating here for almost 8 years now, and I must say, I don’t know what kind of teacher I’d be or if I’d even still be teaching right now if it weren’t for the constant support and inspiration I find here on a DAILY basis. Thanks Michael, AND BEN, and everyone else who reads and contributes. It’s getting more exciting by the day!

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