TPRS vs. Georgia 19

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8 thoughts on “TPRS vs. Georgia 19”

  1. I don’t know Ben. I do a lot of program advocacy in my small school.

    I constantly go to my administrators and invite them into my classroom. I tell them about the cool things we have been doing. I got the assistant principal to come hang out with us when we were doing the circling with balls – I took the kids outside on an exceptionally nice day. OK, so my current batch of administrators doesn’t buy in. Yet. I’m going to keep working on them.

    I am also constantly talking to parents. I write articles for the school newsletter about all the wonderful benefits that come from learning a second language. I write articles about Krashen, but in parent-ese. I talk to parents. When they complain to me that their elementary students (I teach 7-8 in a K-8 school) aren’t learning anything, I explain about communicative language, and the hours of input necessary. When I see parents in the afternoons, I pull them aside and tell them the cute ideas their kids came up with. I send postcards home to every student’s family telling them just how awesome their kid is.

    Now, it’s not like I do this every day. And I haven’t won every administrator and parent over to my side. But, I have won my colleague over to my side. 🙂 And I have a wide base of support, so does my program. I get parents all the time who tell me things like, “Wow. That makes so much sense. Of course it takes thousands of hours.” Or, “I really appreciate that you don’t give Jimmy so much homework. But I miss having him come home and tell me stories.” Or, “When you had the kids teach us vocabulary words, I felt like I was learning Spanish finally!”

    It won’t happen overnight. And it won’t happen if we’re always waiting for the “others” to approach us. But if we just happily go about our lives and keep inviting people in, it starts to grow a little.

    As far as goals go, I think Georgia’s goal here is admirable. Kind of like ACTFL’s 5th standard. Not quite sure how to measure it. Not quite sure how to handle it in the classroom, but man if we could only get there!

  2. Yes. As I read again the sentence from the GA document, and then my post, and then what you said, I have to admit that I wasn’t looking at the overall picture. The word that tripped me up and drove my thoughts there was “teachers”. I do not have advocacy success teachers.

    I do with some administrators and the general public, but the general wording in the document – “maintain open communication about the program and student progress” – is just not really happening in my articulation area. Nobody really cares. I see you making people care. I like that.

  3. Ben wrote: One principal in South Carolina fell asleep while observing me because I was speaking in French to my students.

    We have a new assistant principal this year. (The school has one principal and three assistants.) She stopped by my room on Wednesday during a first year class. Students were obviously engaged, I did a quick 10-finger comprehension check as well as ask individuals yes/no questions. On Thursday I made a point of thanking her for dropping by, and she was very excited because 1) she saw “best practices” (the 10-finger comprehension check) and 2 she could understand German because I was going slowly and pausing and pointing and repeating*. I think I have another administrator who sees CI/TPRS positively now.

    *As Ben has noted numerous times, the real function of pausing and point is not to bring in new words but to re-inforce target structures. I had three questions: where? who? with whom? (Yes, I consider “who” and “with whom” different questions because “with whom” adds a new word: mit/con/avec/…) I had one verb: “plays”. I had four nouns: organ, piano, baseball, soccer. When I asked a yes/no question I went slowly, pointed at the verb, person and noun as I went, and waited for the class (or “Germany” or “Austria” or “Switzerland”) to answer. When I asked a question-word question, I used my laser pointer to point to the question, said the question word, paused, said the question word, paused, said the question word with the full question, paused, said the full question again, and waited for an answer. “Strangely enough”, no one in the class seemed to be bored at all. In fact, after class one student came to me and said, “Could we go over those words again tomorrow? I’m not sure I have them yet.” I thanked him and said, certainly. On Thursday, I told both of my classes that a student had asked for some more time with the words – without identifying who it was – and told them how much I appreciated the feedback. So guess what we did on Thursday? More circling, and we added another student to the mix just to satisfy the faster processors.

    On Friday, I talked to one of the teachers in our AVID program, and a couple of parents. The teacher wanted to tell me about one of her students who was in German 1 as a junior because he had struggled with one of our other languages, and she knew he would be successful in German. One parent told me that who twin children (a boy and a girl) are already coming home and speaking German to one another. The mother is excited because her parents are German, and the kids will be able to communicate in German with their grandparents. At the football game in the evening I sat with parents of a German 4 student, and they talked about how happy their son is to have worked German 4 into his schedule. So, all in all, it was an encouraging first week of school.

  4. We are becoming masters of riding our bikes so slowly that we almost tip over. Clearly this is the dominant leit motif here for September. I love it. For the first time this year I feel like I have finally opened up a big can of Whoop Ass on the problem of SLOW.

    1. SLOW necessitates a lot more than just speaking slowly.

      It includes staying crazy in bounds.

      And it includes that indescribable, “face like flint” feeling given off by a teacher who won’t be hurried by anything–not by admins, parents, students, bells, him/herself, anyone–lest a single student miss something.

    2. In almost every class today I let a question just hang in the air. It was a question the class was able to answer, so I felt no pressure to provide anything. I simply smiled/looked benignly upon them – and waited. Eventually someone gave me an answer, and we moved on. In one class the answer was a springboard to lots more discussion. In another class the answer was an answer that showed that we were ready to move to something different, so we did. There was no feeling of stress or nervousness in the waiting. I projected no anxiety, so the students didn’t get fidgety; we all just waited for an answer. When it came it either wrapped things up or spurred us on; either way, it was fine.

      I also was able to get a couple of students back on track without guilt or recrimination – and I’m sure the repetitions they needed didn’t hurt any of the rest of the class, either. So, a good day.

      And I agree with James.

  5. This is one of the things I need to work on this year….letting it just hang in the air until someone does something brilliant with it. Not brilliant as in perfect score on the SATs brilliant. Brilliant as in it lights up the class. Gotta work on that. Just gotta do it.

    with love,

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