The War Room Described

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44 thoughts on “The War Room Described”

  1. Robert Harrell

    Sorry that I’ll miss it as well. I just made my reservations for the summer (and purchased tickets), and I’ll be at NTPRS but not iFLT.

    I also made hotel reservations for ACTFL in November. Now I just have to get the money together to register for the actual conferences.

    Who else will be at NTPRS?

    1. Judy I call it a war room in the sense that we want to plan strategies to win what I personally have thought of in my career, for better or worse, as a war with ignorance, apathy, robotic memorization and kids who are not motivated. Let’s admit it, our kids are largely not motivated, nor are they often even capable of the human back and forth qualities needed to make CI work. It is a war in many ways. Maybe it wouldn’t be a war if our kids were paying adults who needed our services, but the way it is in most schools, with all those admins and parents and kids and colleagues who just don’t get it, yes, it is a war. When we are working this summer together, I will be with the only professionals in the world whom I would want to be with, those who actually get this work. Yes, very few professionals in the field of language acquisition even understand this work. The war is really against ignorance and when I get together in the way Teri describes below – thank you Teri, for the kind words – with people like John Piazza and Bernard Rizzotto – from Las Vegas a few years ago – we did great work there, and folks like that, fearless teachers, leaders of something new, I think of it as a few days of precious hard work against an amazingly thick-headed enemy – ignorance of how people actually learn languages in the real way. Bit of a rant there, sorry. But the summer training process as you know Teri is a big deal and we must do all we can to help each other. Each teacher reaches thousands of kids in a career. I have been at war on their behalf, and will continue to do so as long as I am capable. It’s not just a job to me. Not just a job.

      1. I’m with you, Ben. We are in the trenches. By night, we are the generals strategizing in the tents behind the front lines, and by day, we are in the trenches, like in WWI, fighting for a few feet forward every day. It can be painful. And most of the time it is. But, even for those kids who didn’t acquire much of the language we taught; even for those kids whom we only got a few feet forward with throughout the entire year, at least they’ll have somebody they will forever remember having fought that fight for them with grit and determination.

  2. Ben, Since you first did this and described it after the 2007 conference in Denver, I have believed that this is the secret weapon for lessening the steepness of the learning curve. Small groups, personalized service, thinking outside the box, finding new ways that work. Flying by the seat of your pants if you have to, until it feels right. A little doing, a little talking, a little more doing.

    YOU GO!

  3. Won’t you be there Jason or will you only be in Chicago? I can videotape the sessions and edit them latr myslf since I’ll have a little extra time next year, heh heh. No promises though. As June approaches I feel myself getting very very lazy. I can tell that retirement is going to be my friend. We’re just going to hang out a lot of the time.

    By the way, how long should the War Room sessions last? I was thinking from 1:00-3:00 p.m., 4:00-6:00 p.m., 7:00-9:00 p.m., with an hour in between. I could demo for 30 min. in each session and then people could work for an hour and a half. Should we do it that way?

    How many days? Three? We could even work past nine if we’re on a roll. I really can’t see wasting time that week. We could get a ton of really good standing-on-our-feet and teaching done if we make our minds up to do it, of course leaving our egos at the door.

    1. I’m in! Thank goodness for a conference that includes PRACTICE! Every professional development session I have been to this year was a lecture, or some sort of “jigsaw” which is just a way to get the participants to read something boring. I want hands on training, I want real time feedback, I want to watch and I want to teach. Thank you thank you thank you for offering just that!

  4. Sabrina Sebban_Janczak

    I’ll be there too. Probably jet-lagged as I’ll be returning from the Agen Conference.

    Can’t wait to see everyone again. We had so much fun last year.
    I was helping Ben as he coached this Chinese teacher called Bob, whom we nicknamed Hong-Kong Bob.
    Hong-Kong Bob started with no knowledge of any of this methodology (if you can call this that), and by the end of day 3 we experienced first-hand what I would call a metamorphosis, just like the chrysalis is in the butterfly life cycle.
    It was really cool.
    Coaching a la Ben and with Ben is it!!
    Don’t leave home without it.

    1. We had a similar experience at the Coaching for Coaches last summer in Dallas. A young teacher had been signed up for the Sunday workshop, even though the man knew NOTHING about tprs/ci teaching. (a detail that I didn’t learn until later). He started as a total rookie in that room full of very experienced practitioners. They took him under their wings and brought him along. I saw him again in a coaching session on Tues and I was impressed with his abilities. I then asked him how many years he had been using CI teaching. It was then that I learned that all he knew he had learned on Sunday and Monday. There is something to this intense personalized coaching.

  5. I’ll be there if I can afford it. This War Room experience would be priceless! Does anyone who knows anything about the workings of iFLT know if a payment plan would be accepted???

  6. Hi Sabrina! Great to hear from you! I bitter-sweetly leave your beautiful country in three days.

    Please do let me know what Diana says. I’d love to be there.

    1. It’s up to Carol and she doesn’t give scholarships like Blaine but you could contact her at

      I want to try to get at least some kind of videotape of the sessions so I can post them here after the conference. I may not get to edit them and all that, but I could just film everything and post what we get here. That would give new meaning to the term “leave your ego at the door” but it would only help us.

      1. Yes, Ben! If you are able to get video of the sessions, or at least part of the sessions that would be awesome. Short of winning the lottery, I’m sure now that there is no way I can swing iFLT this summer. But after a year of teaching in New Jersey this next school year, I’ll finally be able to make it to iFLT next summer.

    1. Corinne you and Chris Stoltz and Annemarie and Louisa and Daniel are all in. Five spots left. War room attendees do not have to teach – they can just observe. Two sessions on Wednesday and one Thursday plus whatever other time we can find in the evenings. Yes Greg I will try to videotape. Please remind me again right before the conference. In these settings videotape can be very unclear but it’s better than nothing.

  7. Hi Everyone!
    I will be there this summer! We have finally averted a teacher’s strike here in our district so I am able to re-focus my efforts on changing the direction our district has been going in…I cannot wait to meet you all in Denver 🙂


  8. Daniel Dubois, who teaches Breton in Lorient is registered for iFLT and would love to be in the War Room. Please make room for him so he can tell his mother all about it afterwards.

  9. I will be at both, but not sure how much free time I’ll have at either one until the week gets going. So happy to have the chance to see you all!

    with love,

  10. I would love to attend a War Room with folks going to NTPRS. Again, I’m inviting people to my home but I live close to downtown Chicago, not in the Lisle, the suburb in which NTPRS 2014 is located. If we can get set aside some space at or near the location of NTPRS, that might be ideal for everyone, I would think.

    Funny thing is, I’m not able to attend the day time NTPRS sessions but I am able to attend War Room sessions in the evening.

    1. Skip that is why I made you #16. You are there when you want to be. Hopefully, the others come to all three sessions but anyone who has been to these things knows that never happens. So you do what you want and hopefully we have a core group there that shows up to all three sessions. As Commander of the Maine Brigade, it is only right that you attend the sessions you wish to attend.

  11. Sean, how far (timewise) from your place to Lisle?

    We can figure out location(s) and time and how many sessions we expect to hold when we get nearer the date. I don’t plan to don the Uniform each night I’m there, (my excuse is that I don’t make it to the big city much), but a couple for sure if people here are up for it. Maybe we could have one session in Lisle and one downtown at Sean’s? And more too? That can be a topic of discussion as July rolls around…

    Who do we have for the NTPRS War Room?
    1. Sean Lawler
    2. Jim Tripp
    3. Eric Spindler?
    4. Grant Boulanger?

    Diane, maybe you’ll still be around Chicago for an evening meet-up? Or will you be in Denver by then? That IS strange…

    1. If I’m still in the Chicago area that week, I could probably join for an evening, maybe two, even if the moving truck arrived a couple days later. If that’s ok with you all, I’d be very glad to do that! I live about an hour north of Chicago depending on traffic and time of day.

  12. Dude let me talk to Lisa Reyes and see what she says. I am committed to a good War Room experience in Chicago. I’ll tell you guys what she says.

    What is my question for her? I will ask her if we can get like three sessions during NTPRS – like at iFLT. Or is the Chicago War Room group going to want to meet in a separate venue at different times, probably later in the day, so that no one misses the daytime sessions at NTPRS?

    We’ll work this out. Hopefully in the next few days. If you look at the core group of four you mention up there, I trust every one of those names like my brother. It’s a good group. We can make this happen. I’ll tell you what Lisa says in the next few days.

    But anyone thinking of being in a War Room in Chicago, please comment below on whether we should try to set it up for later in the day, or do like we’re doing with the four and a half hours of actual sessions on W/Th in Denver plus some later in the day (perhaps alcohol and pizza fueled) coaching in the evenings, wherever we can find a place to do that.

    I would also like to keep this other War Room, if it happens, down to 15, because it is the best number for this kind of intense work.

  13. Something else about the War Room. We all share the same vocabulary. We have used various versions of R and D, ROA, the Three Steps, PQA, etc. etc. in our classrooms. Because of this shared vocabulary, so much work could be done that wouldn’t be possible if we didn’t have that. Remember the concept at iFLT – Carol’s idea – is that it is for PLC members only. It is a compelling reason to make War Rooms happen in both cities. At least that is what I am thinking, because in conferences the last thing you want is to go home out a bunch of money and time with nothing to show.

  14. I will be at NTPRS in Chicago only, and I’d love if we could organize something similar there. I’d still like to attend the standard NTPRS workshops during the day, but some “after-hours” sessions with the PLC would be great.

  15. I imagine that Bradley from NYC and Jason from Scotland will also want to attend the War Room session(s). I know they are going to NTPRS, I just don’t think they’ve been on the blog lately.

    I prefer War Room sessions in the evening since I’ll be teaching a summer program during the day.

    I’ll also throw out the idea of hosting multiple War Room sessions at my home. Food and drink would be easy and cheap to do at my home. (And if my wife cooks you all are gonna fall out.) But it might be easier for everyone else to do in Lisle. Lisle is about 45 min from my home with no traffic.

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