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11 thoughts on “Yea!”

  1. Ben, you are such an inspiration. I am only in my second year of teaching and I hope I never loose my enthusiasm. Every day, I am excited and looking forward to spending 41 precious minutes (that’s how long our periods are, wayyyyy too short) with some wonderful and amazing young people. They can make even the cloudiest day feel sunny.
    I guess, I am lucky to have come across TPRS at the beginning of my teaching career and won’t have to spend my first 24 years hating it. Amazing, that you stuck with it anyway. I guess you must have know that there was something out there that made it worth waiting.
    Good luck to you and thank you so much for sharing so much of yourself.

  2. Yaaaaayyy! As we say here in NH “WICKED EXCITING!” Or as I usually say, “super deluxe wicked exciting!” I’m feeling a lot of the same energy and am astounded and thrilled to report that just today, when I saw my dept. head (who is on sabbatical) for 2 mins and told her I had not been this excited, ever, about something I’m actually supposed to be doing in my classroom (as opposed to the myriad random activities that have kept me going over the years but which honestly have not made my kids better at Spanish and French)….she mentioned that she was thinking about going to one of the 2-day TPRS workshops this summer!!!!!!!!! I was all, “omg omg omg omg!!!” for the rest of the day. And since I was on such a roll, I also approached the dean of the middle school and asked whether she thought we could reconsider our practice of tracking the kids in 8th grade ( it does nothing but make a lot of kids feel dumb). And she is open to exploring the idea. I have no illusions about how and when this might change, but at least I asked the question. And I have lots of follow-ups 🙂
    I have not fully disclosed to any administrators all I’ve experienced in the last 4 months of reading and researching or the last month of actually jumping onto this wave. I’ve been mostly focusing on doing my thing. All stealth and subversive-like. Ok, not totally true. I have been talking a lot to the subs who are filling in this quarter who are also beginner TPRS-ers. We’ve kinda formed a little TPRS guerilla movement. And I let a few things slip to a few strategic people who are in good graces with the “powers that be” in our school. Heh heh. Stealth.
    I hear kids willingly and joyfully speaking Spanish / French in the hallways (???really in May???) I know that this would not happen if they were suffering through the grammar grind that I usually subject them to around now (because typically I would get sidetracked by some project-y thing, ditch the text for several weeks or months and then try to cram it all in beginning in April).
    We just returned from 4 days in Quebec with 16 kids, grades 8-11. It was hands down the best trip ever. Of course everyone usually has fun on the trip because they’re away from school, but I have never seen such excitement about the language! The French 1 kids were especially thrilled to read signs and understand them, understand people in restaurants, etc. Many of them were brave enough to want to speak and they found so many nice people who slowed down their speech, helped and encouraged them.
    I can identify a few factors that contributed to this success: 1) since I hadn’t been using the textbook, we could actually use classtime to work with lots of basic structures through reading and lots of PQA. So I know they got lots more listening practice than past groups. I’m new at this, so I have lots to learn, but because the kids were constantly asking about the trip, at some point I was like DUH…the trip IS the “curriculum!” Isn’t it silly to not talk about the trip because you have to get through chapters 7 and 8 before you go? 2)I kept reminding them, especially the quiet and nervous kids, that they did not have to speak a word of French the whole time if they didn’t feel ready, and that they’d learn a ton by simply listening and observing. I’m pretty confident that this helped to keep the stress level low. 3) now that we are back, instead of rushing through a cursory trip evaluation and getting on to chapter 9, we are using trip anecdotes and stories in class! And since the trip was last week, obviously we’re using past tenses to talk about it! So instead of cramming passe compose charts into them and never ever getting to imparfait, we’ll be using both! Damn these kids are smart!
    So, I guess it is really true that when you commit to something, energy shifts and all kinds of things begin to fall into place. Mostly, I am convinced that this network of people has given me the courage to step into the flow rather than continue fighting it, and to trust the wisdom that I never really knew I had until I started reading all your blog posts. So thank you all! I really hope I get to meet you all in person at some point!
    😀 Jen

  3. Robert Harrell

    Jen, you wrote: We’ve kinda formed a little TPRS guerilla movement. And I let a few things slip to a few strategic people who are in good graces with the “powers that be” in our school. Heh heh. Stealth.
    You rock! That needs to happen wherever TPRS/CI teachers may be found.
    Also, check my recent comments under the Assessment post – I gave a link to a PowerPoint containing the information on hours of exposure to language for “General Professional Proficiency”.

  4. Bon anniversaire! The conference on native languages sounds fascinating, great way to spend your birthday. I must admit that while I am happy for you in your retirement and plans for other creative work, I will miss the idea that you are also a classroom teacher, with everything that means: that you are in the middle of the same stresses, frustrations, weekly / monthly / quarterly / yearly cycles of energy ups and downs. You know what I mean. Thanks for setting up this blog. Every time I open it, I find another gift.

  5. Naomi I will stay in a classroom but only teach 2 or 3 classes. I meant that I was retiring from full time teaching. I would shut down the blog if I didn’t have that daily insight and emotional pain to feed my thoughts here and bring about the catharsis available through writing. (All this blog is to me is on online journal to be shared with those whom I trust, hence the move to the membership format recently.) This blog would lose its impact in a few nanoseconds if I weren’t in a classroom. Besides, why leave when I am just figuring it out, right? I feel so confident now after these ten years of learning. What I really feel good about, and I should write a blog post or two on this idea, is how simple comprehensible input is, and how – to our own detriment – complicated we make it, and how we all need to focus and not get carried away by all the ideas generated by what is essentially a very simple thing, glorious in its simplicity, like all great things in this world.

  6. Thanks Ray. This stuff is so dynamic and everchanging, with countless layers to the onion, that I am grateful to keep some classes, so I can keep on learning.

  7. All I can add is that I might have quit teaching if I had not found Ben and this blog. Congratulations on years of helping kids and cultivating the next generation of CI people. Thanks for all the work to build and host the blog that provides the place for people to share and learn.

  8. Dirk you’ve been a source of airwave friendship and brotherhood to me. You have not been lucky with schools. What I wrote to Robert – which he knows already – about principals sometimes being unable to see clearly, has affected your experience as a teacher out there. No doubt. So it is in brotherhood and sisterhood that we sustain each other in this, the most challenging of professions. Without Susan Gross and Laurie Clarcq and Paul Kirschling and Diana Noonan I would think myself a nut case by now. Seriously. Like, for real. No, I’m not kidding. The validation from those four and so many others like Robert and you has been key. As I sit here, ironically during the last exam of the last day of the last month of the last year of three and one half decades of full time work as a teacher, as I look at my kids writing a translation passage from one of Blaine’s books, having just told them just now that I am leaving (you could have heard a pin drop), I think back on the hard times this class gave me but I also see that they are innocent, just kids trying to grow up, and that any of those millions of irritations and little insults from this gifted but very difficult group of kids – the last period of the day – were really a result of my not enforcing my rules properly and speaking too much English. Dirk, I know what you have been going through and I now know that we CAN enjoy our careers in spite of the madness. I channel this idea from Laurie Clarcq. So thank you for being my brother fighting the same fight in a different town and thank you Laurie for making me believe that we CAN make language acquisition less centered in the mind and thank you Susie for the training (there is none better in the world and boy was I lucky to come to CO ten years ago) and thank you Diana for your absolute refusal to compromise on what you know is best for the kids in Denver and for your friendship, authority and courage. As I came in today, I had my ipod Shuffle blasting George Frideric Handel and Willie Nelson. In crossing the threshold of my room just a few minutes ago for the last full time day ever, I heard blasting into my ears, “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! ” Then as I made my way to my desk and sat down for the last full time day with kids, I heard Willie sang “I’ll Fly Away” to me. What sustained me? God did in the form of my brothers and sisters. For that reason I made it. So Dirk, stay in the profession. We can’t lose you.

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