Time to Reflect – 6

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9 thoughts on “Time to Reflect – 6”

  1. Hi Ben,
    This is Phil here, it was wonderful to meet you in Agen last year.
    I have a question for you or anybody out there.
    Now that the holidays are here / or nearly here for most for us I would like to know the following:-
    What is a good way for a C.I teacher to spend his/her time outside of class that could best help him/her inside the class once September rolls around again?
    What has worked for you?

    1. Man this question about what to do in the summer to prepare with CI for the fall has me reflecting deeply. The question keeps coming into my mind since I read it, “How indeed should we prepare for the fall if so much of what we do is based so much in the heart?”

      That is, we can’t just deliver instructional services like in the other subjects in school. We’ve tried it and it doesn’t work. The individuals in our language classes need the intangibles provided by positive involvement as an accepted member of a community and they can’t learn a language without that. They won’t learn from us without that approval delivered to them in a tissue of kindness.

      So part of a response I would make to you Phil on this one is what you already do, which I saw in you in Agen as much as I have ever seen in a teacher, and that is to just continue with that energy you have of giving kind and loving positive regard to others. Seeing you there in our one word image coaching sessions in the evening gave me so much confidence as the facilitator of that group. So really, you may not need to do much on the level of sending kindness and approval to others. You have that piece in place already. So I will try to think of more practical things now.

  2. That is a good question Phil. I am going to defer to other members of the community on this though because all I ever do is think about this stuff and so I spend the summers way out of balance and don’t rest enough. I’m trying to change that.

    Having said that, I really do believe that if we can learn to rest over the summer we can learn to carry that feeling of rest into our classrooms and the kids will pick up on it because the real changes in this work that are happening right now are not about getting better at it but getting more relaxed about how we are in our classrooms. kids can smell out an uptight teacher and reward them with the standard tune out move bc they sense the teacher is not in it to make contact with them as human beings but has another agenda, namely the curriculum, the specter C of the five Cs that rules over all the others.

    When kids sense that we have “something important to teach them” they naturally shut down because language acquisition does not happen that way. It happens in lighthearted banter and fun. So to me that means non-targeted. It means teachers bring authentic interest to the equation. Less is thus more. In my own CI world NT is more effective than T1 because it is about not putting pressure on the kids, just finding easy ways to hang out with them. Kind of ranting here. Maybe others will comment.

    1. Thanks for that Ben.
      I think you are right. Excessive planning allows little room for spontaneity and therefore real connection. Teaching with C.I requires being present with kids, planning requires looking at the past evaluating and then anticipation of the future. That is what I do find stressful, not just in teaching but in life in thinking of the past and future to the detriment of the present moment. All this requires faith in oneself, in the process and effectiveness of our “realtime ” methods.
      I have experienced the student shutdown you speak of exactly for the reasons you outlined.

  3. Robert Harrell

    My suggestions:

    1. Take some time off to rest, replenish, and restore. Everything in life goes in cycles. There is a time to plant, a time to water, a time to reap what was planted – and a time to refrain. Plants often go dormant in the winter; animals hibernate. Just getting away for a little bit can be amazing. How long? That’s different for each person.

    2. Go to a place where other CI teachers gather. This may be a conference, a workshop, a regular meeting, or just a casual get-together. Depending on where you are in using CI, the various conferences have different value for you. So far I have benefited the most from Agen, but then I have not attended any of Ben and Tina’s new ones. I’m looking forward to the Erlangen workshop with Beniko Mason. Sometimes the best part of a conference is connecting with others outside of the formal sessions because you can pursue common interests.

    3. Watch: videos, etc., of other people teaching

    4. Read: books, articles, blogs, etc.

    I’m sure others will have more to offer.

    1. Sean M Lawler

      I like Robert’s reference to life and work in cycles. At the same time, I don’t know about you, but I’m looking for more balance in my academic year life where I can spend more time with my family, read more, and get more sleep during the academic year, not just on vacation.

      So for me, my cycles, or rather, my highs and lows, need to balance out between the school year and vacation.

  4. Thank you Robert,
    I will be heading back to Agen again. I am really looking forward to it.
    My last teaching year has been good. I have changed so much after that conference but sometimes it feels like walking backwards when you are used to doing things in a certain way! In sports they often say that a team can try and change tactics on a certain day against a certain opposition but when the pressure is on people revert to what they know best the tactic being unconsciously abandoned for what seems natural. I experienced this also during the year…..(e.g. we were doing a reading and I hijacked the class and turned it into a grammar lesson without realising it!)
    I suppose my question was prompted by the thoughts of that me..the me on a wet end of January day the me who is tired and stressed, and the thoughts of what can I do now that will be of service to him later. I think you offer excellent suggestions. I do have those DVD’s time to get them out again I think!

    1. Sean M Lawler

      This analogy to sports is great, Philip! Perhaps this analogy suggests that it does, in fact, take some time to be a good CI teacher. We’re trying to become so accustomed to speaking both comprehensibly and compellingly that it becomes like muscle memory. And that takes some time. And there is always room for refinement!

  5. Indeed, this is not easy work. It demands constant and high levels of introspection. It demands things that don’t exist yet in many schools: no homework, play, abandonment of the for-profit testing game, etc. Since people still believe in those things and a host of others that are detrimental to learning and to kids, we have to try to remember to be true to what is best for us and our kids. We can do it.

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