The Real Work is Laughter

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11 thoughts on “The Real Work is Laughter”

  1. You are helping me realize that my true lesson planning efforts have a hidden, subconscious, agenda: arranging classroom conditions so that students will laugh out loud at least once during the class period. It’s the overarching goal, the Backwards Design Unit Planning, the essential question, and it’s been hiding in the closet.

    You’re helping me realize and find a sense of peace in accepting that I won’t score high on Danielson and that’s just fine because I aim to score high on spirit.

    (You can see I still struggle with this. An experienced PE teacher in the building hinted, last week, that admin gave him Distinguished on Danielson last year, which means that he doesn’t have to be evaluated this year. Hearing that made me feel salty. Jealous. Competitive. Bring out my bad side. He’s a great teacher and totally deserves it. And I feel a sense of admiration towards him. But when this evaluating and scoring stuff comes up, a bubbling starts to brew in my stomach and I turn ugly. I hate it.)

    1. “Distinguished” is more often a political tool. I’ve received evaluations in the past that I think were extremely critical but then others where I got a “distinguished” in a category that I was not really sure I deserved (because the administrator was not knowledgeable about language acquisition therefore it was not based on anything solid).

      I am lucky to have a current admin that is 100 percent on board with what I am doing- even the Invisibles System. In my department we don’t all agree on language acquisition 100% but everyone respects each other and we no longer have the battles we were having 5-6 years ago because now all of the anti-CI and anti-TPRS teachers have moved on to other jobs.

      1. Good to hear, Greg. Did that interim principal from Stevenson move on? Or are they still at Carmel. If you have a new principal, how did they come around to approving your CI approach so quickly? Curious.

        1. The interim principal is gone and we have a new principal- This is his second full year, and looks like he is here long term . He is great. His previous school’s Spanish teacher was doing TPRS and TPRS Novels so he got it right away. He even put his kids in some kind of afterschool program that was input based last year.

          He also taught himself Spanish through input based methods. He is a former Latin teacher and he realized the grammar approach did not work for inspiring kids in taking Latin, but I think he became an admin before he discovered CI.

          A number of our Catholic elementary feeder schools are doing CI as well. At least they do novels and Senor Wooly- I know of one that has tried the Invisibles, so this type of teaching is no longer really seen as that out-there anymore.

          I think if I did not find Ben and the Invisibles I would have thrown in the towel on teaching a long time ago. I will probably be at my current school very long term. I just can’t go back to being forced to use a textbook or have a toxic department chair again- even if it would mean an increase in pay.

      2. One key turning point for me was inviting all administrators, guidance counselors, and any other adult in the building into my classroom after school for a demo Spanish class. I did this two years in a row and once we are back to normal I will do it again.

        I had the assistant principal, a number of guidance counselors, and the deans doing a One Word Image and and a One Word Image story. With adults, you can’t do a One Word Image and NOT have a lot of laughter. Let the admin feel what it’s like to be a student in this methodology and you will have them saying “I wish I had learned Spanish this way!”

  2. Yeah, I never really “got it” about the resentment piece until after retirement. It’s just that way.

    In one of my last years at Lincoln HS in Denver in about 2104 I really stirred up the feelings of my departmental colleagues by earning distinguished with no effort to do so. I didn’t try at all, rarely handing in required school documents with anything more than minimal preparation (I am convinced they were only glanced at) – just hung out with kids. My colleagues, all of them TPRS stars, esp. Annick Chen (and if you know who she is, she is the teacher that Linda Li wants to become – in a class by herself) all of them worked very hard to submit all the right docs in the right way, etc. to play the game, and no one else got distinguished.


    I hope you don’t realize the weight of those words only after you retire. It’s a bunch of bullshit.

    Moreover, who can judge a language teacher besides another language teacher? And since few really know the research, not even them.

    Dude, enjoy your work and leave the rest for the petty egos that scar our professional existences in our buildings. What a mighty joke evaluations are!

    I know you know all this, of course. Just a reminder.

    1. Yeah, I know it. And I know you know that I know it. It’s still hard to let go. I guess it comes down to pride, right? Not the good pride, but the bad pride. That cardinal sin one. Oh, I can feel a lightness in my forehead, between my eyes, having identified the problem in my head, pride, and thus, being able to let it go, at least a little bit. At least for now.

    2. Additionally, not all that is flashy for an administrator- pairwork, games, “getting them up and moving” actually has anything to do with what is best for language acquisition.

      You could have a super-boring One Word Image story (almost never happens but theoretically it’s possible) and the kids will learn more than in any “get them up and moving” activity or tech game.

      What most admin and teachers are still in denial about is that it really is about the input.

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