Those Days Are Over

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20 thoughts on “Those Days Are Over”

  1. Another thing about this change – has anyone noticed? – is that language is fun. Because life is meant to be fun. Language is a supreme expression of the supreme creation that we are. And we are meant to be happy. So when we are happy in class, and we get rid of the putrified thinking that our work is all about intellectual attainment of impossible goals, and remember that language can express our happiness, then our outlook on our jobs changes. The kids want only to be heard and to be loved. They want to know that they count as they go through the treacherous and icy seas of growing up. And we can help them, melting the ice created by too serious teachers in their other classes by praising them for their genuine achievements. I just had a level 2 kid write a story at somewhere between a novice mid and a novice high level. It was a great story! There were few errors and there was some great thinking expressed in that text. It was only about the tenth time the kid had even written anything in two years of French (no hyperbole there), and it proved to me that if they wait they write better when they are ready. And here is another thing – what do you think an administrator is going to think when they see you pointing out how wonderful the work of one of your students is as you share it with the class and praise her at every turn, pinting out every good thing that she did? When you bring this kind of happiness to your classroom, and I couldn’t contain my happiness at what this child has written today, then you get good evaluations. Why? Because at the end of the day, it’s not what you teach that the administator sees, it’s how you treat the kids.

    1. I was the lucky one to be with Carol Gaab today in So. Jersey. I really needed a good shot in the arm to get me through the rest of the year and who better than Carol? All I can say is that I hope we can all see her again somewhere this summer for once is not enough! I also got a real reality check from several of my local public school colleagues who are really upset about the standards and how they are impacting their classrooms. I also had a long conversation with a lovely German (native) speaker who loves the idea of TPRS but has inherited a level three class who had only TPRS instruction and she says they cannot put a sentence together. She teaches on the block and they all take the National German Exam which she cannot give without teaching grammar. A touching moment came at the end when a women shared that she was retiring and broke into tears when she was thanking Carol saying wished she could continue teaching to try to implement Carol’s super ideas. I finally have a better idea about readers theater. I first saw Gayle Traeger do RT in Los Alamitos and thought I’d never be able to do what she did, but Carol made it seem manageable. It was a great day.

      1. @Chill: Can you explain what the German teacher meant by “can’t put a sentence together”? I don’t believe that after two years in a tprs class, the students can’t put a sentence together. Or, does she really mean, they can’t conjugate verbs, name grammar items, and fill out worksheets accurately? I’d like to understand this better. I HATE it when grammar teachers say stuff like this. I understand she believes she has to teach them to memorize grammar to pass what she perceives to be memorized grammar test. It is unlikely she is assessing their comprehension of spoken and written German or their ability to engage in German in a meaning-centered way–or if she has, she believes correct grammar is more important. Rant over.

        Carol posted the story about the teacher who is close to retirement and had such strong feelings about wishing she could could continue to teach. I feel the same way.

        1. and who knows if what the TPRS teacher was doing was really CI…

          so many factors. I’m grateful that the teacher was willing to go to see Carol to learn more.

          So glad that it was a great day!!!!!!!!

          with love,

        2. Me too re: retirement coming too fast.

          Now Jody you know the quality of your rants is very high and that one there was just too short. I am reminded of Cyrano’s reaction when insulted about his big nose. He told the insulter, “That’s all you got? It’s not just big, it’s a peninsula!” and on and on in a great speech. So also does this teacher need to be thoroughly worked over for her sentence. I’m glad you picked it out. It IS manipulation and it IS full of pride and it DOES reveal a complete lack of knowledge of what we actually do. That’s the big thing, how people can attack when they don’t know. The lady needs to be told SHE DOESN’T KNOW.

        3. Hmmm, I kind of assumed it was a typo and that Chill meant to say “… had only TRADITIONAL instruction..” (or something like it). There is no way that kids who had three years of TPRS can’t string a sentence together!! Chill, did she really say that?

        4. Yes, I think she sees the value of CI methods, but she is very critical of the kids she inherited from a TPRS teacher – she told me that the woman she replaced did nothing. When I asked her what she meant, her answer was that they could not put a sentence together with the correct German word order. Her remedy was to take the first three weeks of the marking period to do nothing but worksheets. After the grammar lessons, she told me that the students reported “finally getting it.” Laurie is right, who knows what the other teacher was doing. She is very frustrated by the way the standards and the Danielson Framework are being implemented. She told me that the person in charge of implementing the WL standards in NJ just cancelled a region wide workshop on the changes because the woman from the state was afraid she would be unable to answer all of the teachers concerns. This teacher teaches on the block. And my dear Jody, you will continue!

    2. How about when the happiness in the classroom spills over into the rest of the school? More than once this year I’ve heard from teachers and parents about how the students on their boat ride home are having singing contests in spanish-who can sing the spanish song better. And today one of the teachers announced to me in front of the students that 2 of my students were arguing with each other in spanish during lunch ( in a friendly way, of course.) And the cool thing was that the students did think twice about it. but the teacher was struck by it. This made my day–everyday it seems like there is some kid who makes my day. This is good stuff.

  2. How you treat the kids. AMEN!

    I just started reading Stephen Cope’s new book, “The Great Work of Your Life.” Only about 30 pages in, and he is talking about Jane Goodall as an example of someone who has had the very unique experience of truly living her dharma, because from a very early age her Gift was named, celebrated, cherished and nurtured. He gives that famous example of her hiding in the hen house at age 4 to find out where eggs come from, and how even though she had been missing for 4 hours, when she came running back from the hen house, her mom “saw her shining eyes” and knew to ask all about it rather than scold her for being gone.

    Ok, so this is an extreme example, and admittedly rare (and as a side note, I totally recommend reading any of her books 🙂 ). But he goes on to state:

    “Children cannot understand the full import of The Gift. They can only feel their spirit leap up toward their object of interest–can only feel the delightful energy of fascination and enthusiasm (from the root en theos, literally “the God within”). ”

    Then he talks about how it is not until kids develop introspection as teens that they can put any of this into perspective, SO then he says:

    “Trust in The Gift must be nurtured by parents, teachers, friends. The moment must not pass by unnoticed. We must be encouraged to identify with our gifts. We rely on others to see our shining eyes.”

    This struck me deeply, and instantly reminded me of this work we do, and this group of people who are working so hard to cut through all the layers so that basically we can reach the students and find out where they shine and try our best to mirror that to them.

    I don’ t know that we can necessarily dig through all the layers that have been dumped on our kids, especially the older they are. But it seems criminal not to try, especially when the other option is to bury them even more deeply. So just want to give everyone a shout out for this work! xxoo jen

  3. How you treat your kids – a great reminder.

    Today, for whatever reason, my fifth period class focused in on what we were doing. (Currently we are doing submarine warfare in WWII and watching Das Boot. Today was a non-movie day in which we were summarizing the film in German. Students were copying down what I wrote on the board after discussion with them.) About seven minutes before the bell, my students suddenly started putting things away. I said, “We have one more film day to summarize.” One of my students said, “I’m done.” I asked (genuinely, not sarcastically), “Did I strain your brains today?” The student replied, “Yes, you really did. We worked harder today than we ever do.” I answered, “OK, we’re done” and gave them the last six minutes of class to relax. It simply felt right.

    1. Again, I’m so glad I happened upon this PLC. Thank you Ben, jen, and Robert. I needed to hear all of this. On the surface I suppose it looks like this job is about teaching STUFF, but that’s really not the point of it in my opinion. Yes, I occasionally get excited thinking about my kids learning French and seeing them use it spontaneously. But most days the only mission I feel going into work is the mission of finding the strength to uplift my kids’ souls. I know that I MYSELF can’t actually do that, but I can act as a major catalyst in it when my mind is in the right place.

      I know that after they are done with French the majority of my kids are going to forget 95% of the language unless they continue learning it. What they won’t forget is how I made them feel and the life that I lived in front of their eyes every day.

      So many questions about how to do this TPRS stuff, but I have to run. So glad to be part of this.

  4. “On the surface I suppose it looks like this job is about teaching STUFF, but that’s really not the point of it”
    Greg, I think you are right on here, and this is the source of so much misunderstanding that occurs between us and our colleagues, administrators and students’ parents. They want a commodity, and we’re trying to give them a genuine human experience, we’re trying to clear away the stuff for our students for at least one period in the day. The key to teaching this way and surviving, in my opinion, is in being able to talk about what we do in terms of tangible benefits, and the standards are our allies in this, and Robert and others have really helped us to articulate what we do in ways that are acceptable to those who don’t understand where we are coming from.

      1. Wow….I almost commented on every post…finally I realized that this was a boatload of great stuff and I could jump in at the end.

        Teaching to the heart, mind and soul of the student. That is what TPRS/CI allows us to do in a way that no project, no test, no book, no worksheet, no skit could ever let us do. This is INTERACTIVE teaching (my response to being “teacher-centered”) and allows us to be and interact with other human beings.

        with love,

    1. Thanks John. My big project this weekend is scouring the articles and comments on here to solidify how the this all fits in with the standards so I can clearly articulate that connection. It makes complete sense in my head, but you’re right -it IS fair that as public servants we should be able to “articulate what we do in ways that are acceptable to those who don’t understand where we are coming from.” Especially since my next formal observation could happen any day now. And I’m a beginning teacher. Oh dear…

      1. There are a few articles by Robert on how what we do is spot on with the standards. Actually there are a lot. The scrolling nature of the information here makes it a challenge to find stuff, however. But you’ll find what you need.

        Did you get my comment recommending that you employ a Writer of Facts (who will later become the Story Writer) along with your Quiz Writer? Did all that make sense? We’re all waiting for your end of the week report. You’re 3/5 of the way through your first week. Congratulations!

  5. While they are mixing the TL up with all manner of English and all kinds of weird ass Realidades stuff, and calling it CI, we are, when we are staying in the TL only, having fun. Just plain having fun. The most fun happens when you stay in the TL, by far. They don’t know that. They are four percenters teaching younger versions of themselves, but only 4% are younger versions of themselves – thus they aren’t reaching the rest. There’s something fundamentally wrong with that.

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