The Last Sunday Night

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28 thoughts on “The Last Sunday Night”

  1. Not sure if that was an answer to my email but it answered my question… Thanks!

    This may be cheesy and is certainly risky but all I could think of while I was reading
    your post was the words to “The Dance” by Tony Arata:

    Looking back on the memory of
    The dance we shared ‘neath the stars above
    For a moment all the world was right
    How could I have known that you’d ever say goodbye

    And now I’m glad I didn’t know
    The way it all would end the way it all would go
    Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
    But I’d have had to miss the dance

    Holding you I held everything
    For a moment wasn’t I a king
    But if I’d only known how the king would fall
    Hey who’s to say you know I might have changed it all

    And now I’m glad I didn’t know
    The way it all would end the way it all would go
    Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain
    But I’d have had to miss the dance

    Yes my life is better left to chance
    I could have missed the pain but I’d have had to miss the dance

    The really cool part for me is the role you had in teaching me how to dance. I am so
    grateful for your help in letting me come to move beyond the pain to where I could
    embrace teaching and my students and feel such joy!.

    Thanks Ben. I (and my family) love you so much!

  2. You have propelled us into a new order, a new evolution, Ben.

    Like how we see the future of surgery done by laser instead of the traditional, Industrial Revolution era knife and scissors. The laser requires no cutting, and therefore no bleeding, or scarring, or long recovery times laying brain-dead on a hospital bed with a catheter.

    You’ve helped us see how our teaching can be like the laser surgery. Painless, simple, effective, almost effortless.

    And we all need to rid ourselves of the pain we feel on Sunday evenings. We need to give ourselves to our families on Sunday evenings, not our lesson plans. This is so true to us all.

    Thanks Ben!

  3. Wow, great post. Congrats on going out on a high note.

    I think of my colleague Luce who after 25 years of grammar teaching DOVE headlong into TPRS. And of her Defartment Head– who shall remain nameless– who, after almost 25 years of Grammar Grind teaching to I.B. kids brainwashed into thinking that language learning = rule memorisation, continues to both Grammar Grind and bad-mouth her astonishing TPRS department members, whose results– increased enrolment, happier & more successful kids– blow her own results away.

    You can go out on top or you can rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic. Nice work, Ben.

  4. I love you Ben. I am going to miss summer work with you, getting coffee, talking about baseball, taking walks to the library and admiring the architecture, and grabbing a drink on Friday with Diana, Paul, and more. I have learned a lot from you and will forever appreciate what you have taught me about teaching and about life. Enjoy retirement!

    1. Joey I just thought of another thing about our DPS group. We are not like teachers. I mean, we are passionate about Krashen and teaching using comprehensible input, but we’re not like teachers. What teachers do like you and call up and argue with Krashen in the middle of the night? (That is one thing I truly never will forget.) What teachers speak with such irreverence about any topic when we are supposed to be writing assessments that align with the research (trying not to get caught by Diana)? Our group is just so strangely un-teacher like. I love that. We’re so unlike teachers that there is hope for us and our students!

  5. Ben,

    I am nearing my first semester of using TPRS and it only happened because of you. Why I chose to order your 3 books and utilize your resources over the numerous others is beyond me, but I know you were placed in my life for a reason. Watching your videos, reading your materials and utilizing this blog have helped me tremendously on my TPRS journey. You have helped mentor me to become the teacher I have always wanted to be. I used to think I had to entertain the students, but watching you and seeing you so calm and collected made me realize that this type of environment is critical and necessary for true language acquisition to occur. You helped me relax and once again enjoy what I was doing.

    I cannot thank you enough for all that you have done for me and the numerous others on this blog and beyond. I am happy to report that my department hopes to switch to TPRS at least for levels I and II next years, and we’ll see what happens to levels III and IV. Fortunately I teach I and II so I can continue to grow and develop my TPRS skills.

    You are like my Zen Master. You helped keep me centered and make me realize what is important not only in teaching but in life. Thank you for giving me my life back and for keeping me in this profession. I was ready to quit at Christmas, but now I can happily say I am not dreading the thought of next fall.

    My best to you always. May you enjoy your late evenings, your gardening, biking, yoga and whatever else comes your way. You now have time to truly be PRESENT in all that you do!

    1. Wow Polly I thought that when I started the blog that if I could just help one person it would be worth it. That was my mindset. When I first started this blog in 2007 I got cut up into little pieces by so many people, then we went private, and we built trust and look at us now. I never could have put myself out there on video (they were never good enough and never represented my best work and I know that is true for so many others here, and is one reason we don’t see more video here). One thing I have noticed – few people resonate with all that we have here. It is too much, in a way, so when so many younger teachers in the past year have told me things like you said above, I know that it is in a way a tribute to the digging you all must have done here, with all those articles to go through to even get a glimpse of what we are really about, which is like a secret, so allow me to compliment you back. I have to say that the fact that you have pulled this stuff together in one semester blows my mind. It says something about what I have sensed lately to be a kind of new army arriving on the scene, one that could care less about what came before, one that only wants to start ripping stories. Now THAT is something to get excited about. Imagine. Reinforcements. OK scrape me onto a stretcher and get me out of here.

  6. Just for the record, Sunday nights are not easy for me either! I thank Susie Gross for bringing “TPRS in a Year” to my attention – I bought my copy from her. I reached out to you and you answered – not a perfunctory answer, but an answer that let me know that you were there for me and I had a ton of questions. Next DVDs showed up in the mail. When I met you in San Antonio, I already knew I had a friend. Your story was mine. I was so grateful to realize the possibility was real – I could breath new life into a dead-end career and find happiness and joy once again – really for the first time. It is what will allow me to continue for a few more years while you are home doing all the lovely activities that you will enjoy! Thank God for you, Ben Slavic. I do love you too. You are a force for good. You make a difference. Educator, mentor, truth-teller, blogger extraordinaire, and dear friend. Laissez les bons temps rouler, mon vieux!! Tu les merite!

    1. Chill don’t say dag. Say dang. No don’t say dang. It’s time for us to walk the walk with this stuff. The lack of an accent and the lack of s just don’t fricking matter. J’ai bien compris et c’est ca qui compte. Oops, no accent on the c. Oh shit did I spell compte right? Bernard of Sabrina might find a mistake and think I’m stupid.

      Look at us, still being four percenters. Oh well. And thank you for those kind words. If you and a few others had not been in San Antonio it would have been bad. I was presenting and all of a sudden there were more than 300 people there. Thanks for softening that blow.

      And when I think of you I think of La Reine des Forces de l’Ouest, Jody, and wish we three could spend more time together. We have been through so much and I think that the three of us are really cut from the same mould. How lucky can one person be, to meet people like you? How lucky to be having this online retirement party this week, after all those years of intense suffering by myself in those classrooms over all those years.

      1. Sabrina Sebban_Janczak

        Dang it, can’t you spell correctly Ben . JK!!

        Lynnette just bought a tee-shirt to frame in her classroom next year, and it reads:

        “I teach French, let’s save time and just assume I’m never wrong”. I think we should get you one. Haha!

        1. What’s crazy Sabrina is that when we focus on form over meaning we are just plain WRONG. And since you guys never like to be wrong, no wonder it has taken an American, Judy, to bring this stuff to France. Even then, I would expect that France will have very few people doing comprehension based instruction even 20 years from now. That wall of intellectual superiority is just too thick. No offense. Well ok a little offense intended there.

          1. The parent in me snickers though, when my own kids’ traditional Grammar teachers make Grammar mistakes… I mean seriously.

            French is difficult. But if you’re going to grade every darn accent, verb ending, and adjective agreement, you better not make those mistakes yourself ?

          2. So true Catharina. You point out the biggest hypocrisyof all. So many grammar teachers had success when they were in college because they could memorize rules, and then when you get over to France you realize that the rules are an Americanized version of the French grammar system, which itself is truly a maze of exceptions and nuanced details that confuse even highly educated French people. These American purveyors of the French grammar system get away with selling a vastly inferior version of the real thing to unsuspecting buyers. Not only is the product they sell flawed, it helps no one to actually learn the language. One puzzled by the passion we bring to our work need only look to those facts for a reason that we want to right the language instruction ship in the United States.

  7. Thank you Joseph. When I left South Carolina I had a dream, all of fourteen years ago now. A woman with great power and dark skin turned around to me from her pew just in front of me in a church and with utmost seriousness said to me, “Go to your people!” I didn’t know what she meant. I had never been in a tribe in my teaching life up to that point. Then I went to Jefferson County, Colorado and met Susan Gross and then I gave eight lonely and scary years, all alone except for Susie, my lifeline, to practicing my new way of teaching in that district. Those were hard years. I even had to write two books just to try to learn what I was figuring out. From time to time I would remember that dream, because the woman carried so much power, and wonder where “my people” were because they certainly weren’t there. Then I went to East HS, where you and Paul are now (I would give anything to take that open French job just to be with you but I am too old now, plus schools are really getting weird these days, it seems, by the minute). Once in DPS I met you and Paul and Diana and the rest of the gang. I was home. It had taken 32 years. You all trained me but in a way that I would like to train others, to pick up on your point Chris, a way that I think we can get going in the War Room, a way that is just chock full of trust with the corresponding huge gains in our learning when trust is there. Is our little DPS group not the best of all possible groups for trust? This is not a minor topic. This is, for me, where the true stuff of this work lies, in working together in trust, like we have. I love you back, Little Joey Krashen, and I love Diana and the rest of the group. I would wait another 32 years to be with you guys if I could get five more. It’s that way.

    1. I am so very happy for you, Ben, that you will end this segment in your life on such a high note. From the moment I set foot on this blog (same as for others, it must have been divine guidance that brought me here), you have been my inspiration and guiding light along this wonderful path. Your outlook on life and your interactions with those around you makes me believe in all that is good in this world. I can only imagine how much your students will miss you.
      I feel so blessed to have you in my life and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything you have done and continue to do for me and everyone else on here on a daily basis.

  8. Thank you Brigitte. I am certain that it was divine guidance that brought me here as well. Once we got off the public airways, and after some time went by, around five years ago, we started to trust each other more and be more honest in our discussions (think Jeffery Brickler and Angie Dodd).

    The PLC slowly became my place to not just talk about teaching but to say honest things about what was really going on in my mind and heart as a teacher trying to learn this crazy good pedagogy.

    I was happy to have a place to do rigorous professional growth – that is an understatement – but also to say things that I wouldn’t even say to people in my department. It’s because of the people who are here that makes me say that.

    This group is definitely not for everyone. It’s for people who refuse to compromise one iota on pedagogy and who want to take this comprehensible input thing to the absolute limit (think Chris Stoltz and Eric Herman). Let’s not sugarcoat that many if not most “TPRS” teachers compromise the research. They do. No blame, they just do.

    And so this group is for people like you who are willing to say honest things and face teaching, arguably one of the hardest professions at all, with grace and poise, who are willing to stay calm and carry on the work of trying to reach kids in the real way, because someone has to.

  9. Aw thanks Ben. I still have a ton to learn. I will not however ever shut up publicly when I hear bad ideas about language teaching (Thanks Eric for all your data-gathering!)

  10. Thanks for this post, Ben. It helps me a lot in knowing that I made the right career choice.

    In the few years that I’ve been in this PLC, you’ve become a mentor to me. You are to me what Susan Gross was to you. I can’t express in words how highly I regard you and respect you. Congrats on retirement.

  11. Thanks Chris and I am glad you are going to continue to apply your talent to what is best for kids. It’s insane but less insane than choosing some job that doesn’t benefit others. Your strength and determination is clear in your comments here over the past few years. We have good people here who are young and who are going to make a difference. So yeah, Chris, keep jabbin’.

  12. Well, dangit! (Didn’t say dang) I’m not going to go all soft on you, BS, because I think we will probably hear from you MORE than we did before. You are leaving the classroom, the bureaucracy of education and the inconvenience of having to adhere to someone else’s schedule; but I don’t believe you are leaving US. In addition to being happy for you, I am JEALOUS as well. What a great gig! Family time, gardening, biking, and blogging… all the things you love and will now have more time for! CONGRATS!

    What I have appreciated most about you is that regardless how different our ideas might be, we always seem to leave pondering the other’s position, not annoyed that we didn’t (and sometimes never) agree. You understand me so well– especially my angst about certain situations. You have an uncanny way of sympathizing, supporting and always encouraging me to stay the course. I would say that I’m going to miss you, but I won’t… because I’m still going to contact you and whine when I have to face the giants (not my beloved Giants) and am feeling weak and uninspired. Thank you for all the love, ideas and support you’ve given me throughout the years. Thanks for all you’ve done for the profession! And thanks for all you’ve done for kids, both directly and indirectly!

    I wish you much love, laughter, joy and happiness in this new chapter of your life…

  13. Wow, congratulations Ben!!

    You are such an inspiration. When I worked at DPS in 2009, just for one semester, hanging out with you, Diana, Paul and the rest of TPRS folks was such a highlight. Seeing you at the conference once a year is always a joy, even though you came to my Mandarin session 4 days in a row one year. Your passion for teaching is just so contagious!

    Thank you for everything! Enjoy this new chapter of your life and all the best!!

    1. OMG I forgot that it’s Sunday night. Wow. I don’t have to get up in the morning. I forgot. Maybe it won’t hit me till the fall since this just feels like summer break. Because just like Sunday nites were bad so also was the arrival of August. I shouldn’t be saying this since most of us are going back in again in the fall. But we can’t play around with our mental health. We must embrace our summer and count on it, demand from it, a good break so that those who must can do it again in the fall. We can’t shy away from it. If I can deal with the return of August in a courageous way, for all those years, at the end of each summer looking the new academic year in the eye and smiling, and remembering how fortunate I am to even have a job that I am interested in, than others can.

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