Update on the PLC

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58 thoughts on “Update on the PLC”

  1. Hi,
    I’m Phil Sawatzky. I teach Spanish in Wichita, KS at a private school.
    Thanks for posting this and for keeping the PLC open. I have been a silent reader and have benefited immensely from this PLC for the past 3 years or so. I read it every day when my students are doing FVR. It’s been the most important source of my personal professional development. I have benefited from the ideas in the CI community for years, but what has kept me at this site is the idea that this is a very simple process and when we complicate it we are not nurturing authentic communication. I am also attracted to the honesty on this site. Honesty is often requested of us, but in reality it too often feels like a huge risk to be even diplomatically honest. The longer I do this, the more I feel that my role is shielding my students from an environment that can be very humiliating and dehumanizing (not trying to heap more criticism on schools, but I perceive an imbalance in my school that doesn’t support mental health in its adults or kids.) When Ben has expressed thoughts similar to this, it has resonated with me.

    I’d like to contribute from time to time, but wasn’t sure how, so thanks for the email address.

  2. I second that! Mental health is huge. I feel like most of my classes have been doing well, but my last class of the day (7th period- French 2) has a few stinkers, plus here in Montana we still have a lot of smoke in the air from forest fires, and my little classroom gets very hot in the afternoon (thankfully, we’re going to get air conditioning sometime in the next year or so…), plus everyone is always tired then (myself included), and I tutor several afternoons after school, and teach some online classes through the Montana Digital Academy (I don’t care for their curriculum, but I have to pay the bills and provide for my family). This PLC is something that has and continues to help me to make it through, and helps keep me sane. Thanks everyone!

  3. Oh my gosh! What a coincidence! I have not been on the PLC in WAY TOO LONG and I came here precisely for the mental health benefits!

    Just 3 minutes ago before I signed on to “visit” and “catch up” with you all, I finished a long email to the principal, assistant principal, guidance counselor and social worker. I have a new 9th grade advisory this year and it is SO CHALLENGING! Of 11 students, 4 are boys who are super impulsive bordering on volatile. They demand every ounce of my attention. Then there are the other 7 students that I am functionally ignoring. So sad.

    I’m sooo tired and it is only day 12 of the school year. I know my advisory is not a language class, but I am in fact conducting it in the same way I conduct my CI classes. I point to the same rules. I have a password. I am really really trying to get them to listen to each other. One of the boys I mentioned has a history of anger issues. He was suspended for several days, so I have not seen him since day 4. All that said, I had a great day with advisory today because we took a 10 minute break before we started our work. Some played silent ball, some listened to music on their phones, a couple of them did yoga! YAY!

    The real issues have zero to do with SLA / curriculum / unit plans, etc. and everything to do with trauma and poverty. It’s so hard to protect myself with strong boundaries on my time and energy. For all the slick CI practices and no grading and all that, I still spend too many hours / too much life energy on school. We have no subs in our district so we often give up our prep for manning a study hall and subbing for our peers.

    I’m trying to be better about parent contact, but find myself so spent at the end of the day that I cannot face making phone calls. So I write emails instead. When am I supposed to get outside? I have 80 min blocks and I am seriously considering just teaching for 45-50 mins and then having recess and coloring.

    Sorry to unload. I am actually enjoying my students for the most part. It’s just the overall load I’m having trouble with. I am still walking to the rule poster A LOT. I’m trying to slow down. I’m also noticing that certain groups just can’t handle interaction. So because I have not even had time to read on my own, I’m just using Senor Wooly videos as movie talks. That way I can give them worksheets if I need to. WE’ve done a couple OWIs but not a story yet. Maybe next week after I recharge this weekend.

    Ben I read a post you wrote about the block schedule and the OWI star and while I see how that could last the whole block, it seems like way too much interaction for me. But maybe it’s pretty chill. I will try it. But I envision trying to have kids do “something” without me at the front of the room for about 20-30 minutes so I can get some down time.

    EEK sorry for the long whining ramble. I am going outside with my dog now! 2017-18 is the year of mental health! 😀

    1. Hey jen! This year, I have 2 classes that are 100 minutes long. We meet every other day. It’s actually going just fine, but guess why. The classes are super small. One is 15 kids and other is 5. What do you know! In fact, my other 3 classes are Heritage Speakers, and they are also super small. It’s like I’ve been given a sabbatical. And yet they pay me full time.

      Anyways, I’ve been able to Circle with Balls, take a break, run a full OWI, take a break, then Write and Discuss all in 100 minutes. Students have been great. Wow does having a small class make a difference. I see what we are capable of as CI teachers with these small classes. I mean, if the small classes can do it, the big classes should be able to do it too, right?

      Then again, maybe I get to spend a few extra moments looking into the eyes of each student more in the small class. We aren’t Philosophy 101 lecturers at the university where students sit for 2 hours and take notes while we lecture.

      Life is good with these small classes. Boy, life is good.

      1. You absolutely deserve it Sean. I felt like this last year with my 4 French classes being no bigger than 18! This is in California where it is normally 35-40! This year I am not so lucky my biggest class is 39. My smallest is 31.

        1. You bear the burden of your own success with that jump in numbers. It happened to Greg Seevinck in Utah – the state TOY. He quit because they jacked up his numbers so big that he had like 275 students or something, and simply because he was a storytelling rock star. Now he is in another profession.

        1. You know, jen, we have our moments where we speak in English at length about whatever comes up that is just too interesting to not talk about in English. I think this helps with the long block, especially for the older kids.

          Here’s an example English tirade we went on: We had included Serena Williams as a character in a mini-story. A student, Chelsea, who was putting her head down in class a lot that day, starting talking, in English, about how Serena married a white man and recently had a baby. She just started talking. And like a river running around the rocks, I flowed right into the conversation. We talked about Serena, her image as a black woman, etc., for over 5 minutes. Then I remember looking at the clock and thinking, “Could I finish this story and do a little fill-in-the-blank with sentences about the story before the bell rings?” I had to move quick, so I jumped us back into Spanish.

          I know Chelsea struggles with her own feelings of self-worth. I’m sure she feels more valued when we entertain conversations in English like this. As far as brain breaks are concerned, I don’t think her and the other seniors particularly care to move and shake as much as the younger ones do.

          1. I am happy if at the end of the year I have used 50% of my available instructional minutes in the TL. ACTFL is out to lunch* on their 90% position statement. That puts the language in front of the kids and distances them from us. The Chelseas are why we are in the classroom, not the language. I applaud you, Sean. The discussion about Serena was important to her development as a person.

            *Because I need 10,000 hours to get a kid to mastery, whereas even in a four year program, given 125 available instructional hours each year X 4 years gives me 500 hours or 1/20th of the time I need to get them where I want them. So by doing 50% of the time in the TL that year, only giving them 1/40th of the time needed, or in a good class in a good year, 1/30th (factoring in all the time for announcements and calling role, etc.), how big a deal is that? Our job is to make them want to learn more and feel good about themselves as language learners, not to get them to fluency. The 90% position statement is bogus, and many of the ACTFL honchos are bogus as well, too big for their britches and immensely boring not to mention out of touch with much of the research. And they put on boring conferences. Back to the point (and yes thank you I DID enjoy that little digression on ACTFL) teachers who try to cram all the CI they can into a class are hurting themselves and their students. It’s not about teaching the language, it’s about being in community and preserving our mental health and that of our young charges.

          2. Sean this was on CI Liftoff today. Tell me if I can send her your email address:

            Jennifer Molitoris
            Philadelphia, PA
            I’d love to connect with some urban educators who use CI. Folks who feel like ‘excessive talking’ is the least of their behavioral concerns and want to collaborate on effective strategies to make CI successful in their school communities and for their scholars’ culture! Let’s chat!

          3. Yes, Ben! Please do send Jennifer my email address. Sorry for the late reply. I don’t know how I missed this. Maybe it would be even better to ask Jennifer to describe a specific dilemma or challenge to post here as an article. I’d rather dialogue with her in this space, getting feedback from others.

  4. We are definitely all in recovery from teaching children. As a mostly silent member of this PLC for some years now, I thought I ought to echo the thoughts of those who posted before me. I appreciate this space as an affirmative, collaborative & safe forum in which we can all express our frustrations, seek counsel, share ideas, and generally help each other through this difficult gig called teaching. Though some things get easier with time, a FL teacher who chooses to use methods that work is always on an emotional roller coaster because this stuff is hard! As rewarding as it is, it can also be soul-sucking.

    So thank you Ben and thank you members for keeping this PLC alive and allowing people like me to silently read, console myself, and be inspired as necessary. I happily pay to belong because I don’t want to be part of a more public group where people get mired in less productive arguments involving semantics or the “purity” of methods. I need “real” support from people in the trenches, experiencing the same things that I am, and to feel like anything I do ask or post here will be heard, respected, and responded to without judgement.

  5. Great to meet you Jessica and Phil.

    I too find it most fruitful when we share our struggles. I believe Ben has created a one-of-a-kind PLC, not only in our growing subculture of CI teachers, but in the field of education as a whole, where we can get raw and gnarly with what we face as teachers.

    It’s this PLC that helps slow my heartbeat during those post-observation evaluation meetings with admin — what I dread the most about school — because here I’ve come to better understand what is true about teaching. I can swallow misguided evaluations with a smile because of the true guidance offered by Ben and so many others here.

    Thanks for posting this Ben. I think it’s needed to know what direction we are taking here alongside the ever shifting waters of so many other online groups.

  6. I’m a relatively new member here, and am learning so very much. I thank you, Ben, for offering this space for us. Thank you to all the members here who have shared their wisdom, their experiences and their support. I have learned so much from you and I appreciate each and every comment. While I am part of a few FB groups also, I sometimes find them to be overwhelming, due to the number of participants and the number of opinions (and how much they differ).

    After many years of teaching, I am so happy to be teaching in a way that is true to the students but that also values my energy and mental well-being. I’ve always worked very hard to give my students the best learning experience that I possibly can, but it has always been at the expense of my personal life. I’m so thankful to have regained that now that I’m following Ben and Tina’s process that they shared with us at the workshop this summer and in A Natural Approach to Stories.

  7. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I must also echo how very essential this forum has been for me as a CI elementary teacher. Though I work in much cushier conditions than those of you in overcrowded and underfunded schools, I do usu teach 39 sections a week between grades 1-4. (This year we dropped a section of first grade, so I only have 33 sections, and an extra 90 minutes of planning time – Yay! Shh.)

    Through Ben’s blog I found my teacher’s inner voice – not the Monitored one I use on the MoreTPRS list. While I love the teacher talk (strategies, content, etc.) it’s the emotional part that keeps me checking the blog whenever I have a free moment. I feel like as I cleared away the distance between my students and me, by looking in to their eyes, rejoicing about Clarita’s new surprise puppy named ‘Sailor,’ consoling the kid who just emerged crying from the gym, I needed a way to conserve my emotional & physical energy so that I could have something special left for my loved ones at home. This space taught me not to feel guilty about intentionally setting aside my soul for myself and for those whom I choose.
    It’s funny to me that those of us drawn to this kind of teaching are often willing to be vulnerable – to flop, to address emotions in the classroom instead of sweeping them away w/curricular content… we have a hard time containing that vulnerability professionally. lately I think this PLC has helped me grow up (I’m almost 54!) and say, “let them shuffle and reshuffle their admin deck, their policies, evaluations, assessments; I know what I need to do and I won’t let all that BS drag me down!”

    1. Finding my teacher’s inner voice – yeah, Alisa, that’s what has happened to me during all the years I spent reading and sometimes posting in this safe space. You found the right words for it.
      By the way, we never stop growing up – I’m almost 65 by now.

  8. I read this space for a long time before I got up the pluck to start posting.

    Can I tell you something? I am finally happy at school. I moved districts three years ago and it was like mourning a death in many ways. Actually I guess it was more like a divorce. Because my old school just kept on going on like an ex, going on about its life like nothing had happened and I stopped being a Pathfinder after 9 years in the same room – Room 23 – and becoming the longest-standing member of the team. It was almost harder to leave knowing that had I stayed, the good times would have continued. And then I went to a school where it seemed cold, and there were no teams, and the parents were judgy, and some of the the kids surly and entitled beyond anything that I had ever encountered, and the colleagues guarded and cold. And then last year I had an admin who wanted to “take my practice to the next level” by taking it BACKWARDS a few miles.

    And then this year I went back and I realized, I love Dan, and Michael, and Jules, and Susan, and even the teacher down the hall who I thought was stuck-up is warming up to me, and there are new people who are grateful for a friendly face. I can now help welcome new staff into he school. I am not so adrift. Even the science teacher who listens to Bob Dylan and the Byrds and the Allman Brothers Band down in the science wing, who I thought would never give me the time of day, was down in my room, popping in to say hi the other day. And Michael Ziebelman came down just to say hi! That’s how it got to be at Gordon Russell…I always had people wanting to chat, after the first year or two, and I felt like going to work was a big old party with my friends. It’s getting to be a lot friendlier in the halls of West Sylvan. My Spanish teaching colleague Ingrid is full-time now so we can talk during prep. And kids are walking in to my classroom with positive expectations because they had friends or siblings in my class who told them that it was special, fun, different. And my Danielson-lover admin got transferred to a different school, and that is a huge weight off my life right there.

    In the time I have spent at West Sylvan, the YouTube channel I started as a favor to 24 teachers in Mike Peto’s room in Lake Elsinore, California, in September of 2016 has grown to quite the enterprise. My videographers now have a professional-grade tripod that Ben and his son Ben left me after Cascadia, and I bought a director’s chair from Amazon for them to sit in. They know that they are taking videos for publication to an actual audience. The students love it that we are “teacher famous” as I explained it to them. It’s like our work has a dual purpose – to have a good time together and also to leave a record of it for them to see later, and for other teachers and other kids even to watch.

    I still have the struggles with my colleagues at the high school, and my former students are still languishing in the FIRST-YEAR textbook class ing “elle est brune” and “il est brun” but the high school folks have now pissed off my principal now too, and we are united in our common ire at the professional insult to the middle school program and both of our professionalism. She brought the cluster supervisor in to my room the other day, seventh period, French Two, 41 eighth graders, and we were discussing Hurricane Irma and if it touched France? (Answer: It did, because of the two French departments in the Caribbean.) We were kicking off a mini-unit on French Geography, as I pilot some content-based instruction strategies with them. The second day of school the admins walked into my room and in Spanish One we were talking about the calendar, and kids were eagerly answering questions about the weather and how many days of school we had that week and the like.

    Slowly, they are accepting me and my “witchcraft” as Doug at Lincoln High School once called it.

    I firmly believe that Doug is actually going to shoot his own program in the foot when these kids realize how much they learned in middle school versus high school. It is a tight-knit community and word of where the quality education is travels fast. It finally seems to me that I have earned a reputation among these wealthy, entitled families who could, for the most part, easily afford private schools but instead choose one of Oregon’s top-achieving high school feeder patterns. They are savvy consumers of educational resources and I hope they vote with their children for better programming at the high school. As it is, I just tell them to take American Sign Language anyways. And the kids who did that are coming back happier than pigs in mud!

  9. Tina, I work in a similar situation and the HS did bend somewhat when they started receiving CI-taught kids. They abandoned their textbook which was a great first step. They still cover grammar topics but more covertly, but for the kids it definitely feels a bit more… authentic. We as as a 1st-8th team observed there last year and while it was far from CI ideal (I found it to be very transactional – kids got tally marks very publicly for answering questions!!) at least the TL was used upwards of 90% of the time, without discreet emphasis on grammar/vocab lists and it looked as though kids were understanding…

    1. But that was New Trier HS, right Alisa? The cream of public high schools in Illinois. Not your average student population. Like Lincoln where Tina sends her kids. My experience in Denver Public Schools was just the opposite. I don’t think the tally system at NTHS and the grammar push at LHS would make it with some of the tough kids in many of our DPS schools. You two are elite teachers w elite students. I know you know that, just sayin’ it.

  10. The Invisibles and OWI are going so well I can’t even believe it. So much student buy in. I am teaching Spanish 1 (after not having taught it for many years).

    This past week students in my LAST period class included the character from my first period class in one of their stories and both classes really love it. I have kids coming into the room and the first thing they want to see is the new drawing from the other classes.

    I’m also having a lot of people pop in my room: other colleagues, administrators, and two visitors from another school. With this system I am able to produce an awesome lesson fit for a visitor to see with no planning. This really is amazing stuff.

    I’ve also been taking the student surveys and doing a “persona misteriosa” at the beginning of the class with a fact about a student. I believe this was Anne Matava’s idea and was mentioned in your book.

    I’m going to start a novel next week in Spanish 1 just to keep in synch with my colleague (who is a complete newbie to TPRS, hasn’t even been to a training yet), but I will keep doing OWI/Invisibles at the same time.

    Oh and the “teach math” bailout move from the Big CI book works great. At a thrift store I got myself some division, multiplication, and addition flash cards, and I pull those out if I need to bail myself out or get everyone quiet.

    1. I agree – it is amazing stuff! It just comes together so well and the kids love it! We’ve moved on to making stories and they keep asking me, “Can we do another story?”

  11. So I’m sitting at S’Bucks during my son’s guitar lesson, and there’s a big circle of deaf adults having some kind of meeting or discussion across from me. They are intermittently leaning forward, looking into each others’ eyes/faces, nodding expressively, turning to track the ‘speaker,’ guffawing at jokes(?) and altogether reading each others’ non-linguistic communications. It is such a beautiful and striking thing to behold as a teacher of communication/language. I just saw a splinter convo take off so that 4 people were signing at once, and they rest of the group was turning to and fro to try to monitor both convos. Oops, that didn’t work – so one of the convos petered out…
    We are an amazing species, especially when we listen to each other, however we do that, truly it’s a dance.

  12. Thank you so much, Ben. This PC is and has always been an inspiration and a sanctuary for me. It’s made all the difference in my career, because of the meaning this approach brings to my students and because of the mental health component.

  13. Ben, although I’ve been a member for only a short time, this PLC has become like a family of true friends to me. I’ve never ever experienced teachers speaking so openly. If I hadn’t found it, I think I might have been in for the next burnout inspite of teaching ONLY 17 periods. (I had a major burnout 20 years ago and have never fully recovered my mental strength but I just love supporting the children in their struggles.)

    Another thing: I always thought I was looking at my students and I was, but teaching to the eyes is so much more bc I need to let go of my professionalism and the feeling of getting enough work done bc I feel responsible for their language progress and their parents’ hopes that their kids learn enough.

    1. Uno you said:

      …teaching to the eyes is so much more….

      This I agree with. If we are truly to be in community, which we are now just realizing is a requirement for teaching a language, then we must make human contact and it is through the eyes that we do that. It suggests an entirely new definition of being a teacher.

      In one of the summer workshops, I asked a teacher to model the Rule #2 thing where we look and smile at the offenders who break the “One person speaks and the others listen” rule and he experienced a lot of difficulty with it. It was too direct. It happened a few times this summer. I was surprised.

      I relate that story because we all must challenge ourselves to be open and honest with our contact with our students. It is certainly nothing anyone ever suggested to me during my career. Only now am I seeing this new aspect of teaching, so I appreciate your words above.

      I believe that what you say about giving up the need to “get enough work done” is a huge new aspect of this work. Ironically, it seems, in our field, the less work we do in favor of real reciprocal authentic back and forth sharing of words in a bed of trust, of community, the better our teaching.

      It’s a whole new world and it’s based in building bridges and loving those whom we cannot love. I say it’s a good change.

      1. I fully agree with this and I’d say whenever we differ in some points of view let’s talk about it and make an effort to understand each other and our different situations instead of judging. As far as I can tell this PLC seems to be the only safe place where we can do this!! And thereby truly help and support each other.

  14. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    “You can’t mess with ‘Mother Nature'” comes to mind. We must manage parents and adminz expectations with the facts about how little contact time we have, (esp compared to the 14,000 hours of native language input by age 5 – BVP puts that in his presentations!) We optimize it by keeping the filter low, the joy high, and the meaning pouring in. But it’s not linear and we must be skeptical of measuring it in ways other than observating classroom interaction.

  15. I left a meeting this morning that was all about assessment in all four modalities every single quarter of language acquisition right from the beginning based on themes and lists and grammar and I just wanted to throw something. My department when I was hired, told me they loved Krashen and they were pushing toward CI focused approaches, but now there’s clouds on the horizon as our district mandates are changing in the opposite way. I feel defeated. I want to find a place where simply acquiring a language in an elective course can simply be ‘enough’…and where students are not tested to death. In addition my school asked three of the four spanish teachers to take on an extra section (meaning we teach seven out of eight periods) and I only have prep time every other day. I’m so tired, physically, emotionally, etc. (and so is my whole department)
    Then I saw your post Ben, and was reminded that at least I’m not alone.

    1. Amy, that workload sounds so difficult. Sending virtual support. I am responding to what you said about wanting to throw something in meetings. After meetings in my school I always feel so frazzled. This year the pressure is to have lessons with targeted learning outcomes that the students can express in their own words that can be measured with a rubric and accomplished in a 40 minute class period….with some classes I am just hoping to get through the period with more time spent actually speaking to them in French than I’ve spent pointing to rules or kneeling down to whisper with disruptive students or making phone calls to the dean.

      1. The expectations rarely meet the reality of a classroom. On the flip side- I’ve hade some rowdy classes, but at least I do feel like I’ve had really really great students who for the most part respect me and do come to class to be a part of the community.

  16. You’re not alone Amy, but that 7 of 8 classes right there is major burnout material and no mistake. I feel that two things are needed now: (1) to teach at a far less level of “devotion” (you know what I mean) to creating a good class and (2) start looking for a building where teachers are allowed to teach 5 classes, which is already a lot. Oh boy! It’s time to put your mental health first, because this is a very bad situation. Protect yourself by relaxing all day in all your classes, just put it on cruise control, provide the CI in a totally relaxed and slow way, have your classes read for at least 15′ to start class if you do the SSR plan, which in your case is de rigueur and certainly find another building. Anyone reading this Amy is a superstar and Amy where are you? Let’s start the job hunt now. Those people you work for are not in good mental space. They are, as I see it, mentally sick, irrational, and some other adjectives I won’t mention here.

    1. Salt Lake City. There truly are endemic issues that even my direct reports have no control over, so I really don’t blame them…but the system I am operating in is pretty rough (students are great though).

        1. Yes, Paul and I worked together for a brief time before he left and I sincerely miss him. We are bleeding teachers who are capable and even stellar because of the heavy loads and unreasonable expectations.

    2. I’ve gotten them into FVR these last two weeks and that is helping a ton. I spent a lot of time with the help of my capable high school TA setting up a library. I’ve spent my one hour of prep time twice weekly to find grant opportunities to get more variety in books and I have noticed that with 10-15min. of reading at the beginning of every class I am much less anxious and worn out. According to the teacher assessment/observation tool that my school uses, we ought to be starting class with output of some kind, but I’m calling BS and just going with reading because they need it anyway and it is helpful for me to have that time to breathe. I *think* my observer would get it and it would be fine, but time will tell if they think I’m doing ‘enough’ for my students.

      1. I’ve never had an observer object to the silent reading, especially when I warn the kids that whenever there is a visitor in class that they can count on a 30 sec. “whip around” check in in L1 where each of them gets 30 sec. or less, no more, to give a report on the book they are reading and why they like it.

  17. Ben, you are so right: The mental health issue!!! For the kids AND us.

    We teach from our hearts and want ‘our’ kids to feel good about themselves (eg That they feel they are good at languages) and then sb comes along telling us we are not good enough or we ought to do it their way. All this kind of BS!

  18. Basically what this post says, in a nutshell, is that we will be talking about things here that we wouldn’t want to share out on FB etc. Some articles can go in both locations. Others, the ones where we are kind of emotionally between a rock and a hard place, for those who know that feeling, we’ll keep tucked away from the online discussion groups here. It’s not about baring one’s soul but about having a place to vent and to try to heal. Yes, this profession wounds. Its’ a war, and we are soldiers.

    1. I believe I only begin to realize a tiny bit how very exhausting and stressfull the situation for kids and teachers at many schools in the USA is.
      My heart goes out to you, you belong to the group of everyday-heroes the world needs to become a better place!!!

  19. Teaching 7/8 classes? Maybe if the class sizes where less than 20. Otherwise I don’t think I could sustain that even if I were younger and single.

    If that’s what you have to do, Amy, I hope you find ways to be able to keep the students busy while you can sit and sip on some tea for the first and last 10-15 minutes of each class.

    Let us know how it goes.

    1. Where I taught in western Canada, they are K-8 schools and in our little city, there are 10 30-minute classes. As a classroom teacher, you can block some subjects, but the specialists teach 10 different classes per day. We got one 30-minute prep a day. This year, due to budget cuts from the government, they reorganized teacher prep time to be on common days (like 2 or three a year) and reduced the number of preps throughout the week. Talk about teacher burnout! It was crazy! Then add on difficult classroom and unsupportive admin, and it’s a recipe for disaster.

      1. Few have noticed that teachers are working much harder w greater accountability to larger and larger amounts of bosses in buildings, most of whom do not understand how ppl acquire languages. So even if teaching using CI didn’t align with the research, I would recommend it to any teacher wishing to retain their sanity. The no-planning, no-stress approach we have uncovered in the past few years is about the only thing that can combat the vicious stress levels and class sizes we all must deal with these days.

        1. Julie Quenneville

          I’m in Ontario, Canada, where French is taught from grades 1-8. I have 6 classes / day, some of which aren’t French ( I do other prep as well for teachers).

          Already, I’m noticing remarkably less stress this year as I adopt Natural Approach strategies. I’m not racing to create flashcards, games, etc but rather focusing on common action words and building fun stories. I’m not obsessed with how much French I’m / they’re speaking. It will all come out eventually. And naturally, I believe!

          Some classes are 28 kids huge…lots of learning disabilities and home issues (poverty, negligent parenting, the list goes on…). When I can make kids feel that their ideas are genuinely valued, and we transfer them into L2, that’s a lovely thing.

          I have one student in gr 7, language skills a few grades below level in reading and writing, but his hand is up constantly this year (mainly to feed me new ideas regarding his obsession with Kim Jong Un!). Last year, he didn’t take part. He felt lost. I hope to update you on how he feels as time goes on. His success with the reading and writing activities will be a real barometer as to how much is sinking in!

          All this makes me feel better. I want to reach that student — I don’t want him to feel like he can’t learn a second language.

          1. The sentiment you convey here Julie is exactly the sentiment conveyed on this PLC for the last ten years. Thank you for bringing this awareness:

            …I want to reach that student — I don’t want him to feel like he can’t learn a second language….

            I’m not usually prone to hyperbole, but when it comes to making kids feel stupid, I get real ugly real fast. This is what drives me. This is my life’s work. Changing f.l. instruction from shaming kids because they can’t memorize to making them feel happy, capable and motivated. For both teachers and kids. It’s a worthy thing to do. And the best is working with teachers who feel the same way, who want to teach in a way so that when they are done they feel like they made a change and didn’t let the ongoing bullshit of the last century to continue on, unchallenged. OK, mini-rant over….

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