You Don't Have to Finish the Story

I was just thinking about how I have these three things I really want to do with the kids today:
1. Finish our learning styles inventories, which have nothing to do with French but are really getting us to know each other. Plus, it’s so much fun. It’s a guessing game too.
2. I just want to do some basic hanging out like Robert’s way of starting class just talking, asking how they’re doing, etc.
3. I want to do the great Françoise Hardy song, Tous les Garçons et Les Filles, because I know the kids will love it.
Then next week I want to do He Talks Too Much, by Anne Matava, because I have a kid who talks too much, but in a good way, if that makes sense. That will be fun!And Beniko Mason is coming by to visit my classes on one of those days. She is in Denver with us this semester.
So I’m thinking about today and next week in a different way, that it will be fun – fun PQA on Monday, fun story on Tuesday, big time high value reading on W/Th, then yet another really cool song on Friday and maybe time for a simple poem, which I have a carload of because I used to enter my kids in poetry contests back in SC, because that was really fun for the kids – some of their work was just awesome (Melanie I highly recommend poetry output/recitation/declamation for upper level kids to add to the upper level planning that you are doing these days).
Anyway, the reason I wrote this just now is to share something really unique in my experience as a teacher: I am really looking forward to being with my kids today. I like hanging out with them. The awkwardness I felt with them even two weeks ago is largely gone now, for some reason. It’s probably because October is a month of patterns setting in – all we did in August/September, the seeds planted then, start to show up as plants now.
In the past, it was a burden to think how I was going to get through my classes each day. That includes TPRS. But, lately, as I have pushed pushed pushed through this tough learning curve, I see how easy and effortless it really is now (those last two blogs about trees and forests hold great truths for me, that is why I slowed up the posting queue a bit these past few days to point to their importance).
I’m going to say that again – I see how really effortless teaching is now. There is such a chasm between the way I used to feel going into work and the way I feel now. There is the pure shit of the old way, and there is the nervous shit of trying to learn the method, but when you get to a certain point with this CI approach, you learn something that you can never unlearn and which must be what it feels like to soar like an eagle. What is it that you learn?
You learn what it says in the trees and forest posts, that all you have to do is take something and start talking about it, and then turn that into a reading. The best, most secret, part of this secret is that you know that you don’t have to get anywhere that isn’t natural. That doesn’t mean that you let the train go off the tracks and try to fit in a lot of out of bounds words – all it means is that you learn to be present with the kids.
That is the most secret part of the secret for me. You’re where you are in the conversation, and the conversation gets as far as it gets. You don’t have to finish the story. Why don’t you have to finish the story? Because the story is never ending.



2 thoughts on “You Don't Have to Finish the Story”

  1. I felt the same way this week–that the 9-week point has been a sort of turning point now. I like this better than the first 2- week honeymoon period, because that wasn’t real (just like I like being married for 30+ years better than being married 1 year).
    I think my students and I know each other a little bit better now and I think most of them even trust me–that is, even when I mess up and have bad days, I think they trust that all in all, I am trying to do my best for them. Well, that’s what it felt like today, anyway.
    I felt so honored this week when one of my students who is in band (I have quite band students in Spanish II) gave me a formal invitation to join them at semi-state tomorrow. I get to ride in the van with the band parents! The invitation said something about my listening to their lives, unlike some other teachers who pretend to care. The only reason they said this is because of those student cards. Those cards are not just about circling and learning Spanish–it showed one student, at least, that I am interested in their lives outside of class.
    Thank you, Ben, for that.

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