NYSAFLT 2015 Annual Conference

by lclarcq on November 1st, 2015

filed under Archived Posts 2015, Coaching, Past Workshops, Sharing CI/TPRs, Teacher Training

Thank you so much to everyone who attended the workshops in Saratoga Springs! (Don’t forget to pencil in Oct 13-14 2016 in Syracuse, N.Y.!!)

The first workshop offered on Friday afternoon was entitled: On Your Feet! Powerful Practice and Positive Feedback for the Comprehensible Input Classroom (note to self: shorter title next time!!)

What a great group of enthusiastic and passionate teachers!!

The participants worked in groups of 6-10 as we went through a series of exercises. There was a lot of laughter and a great deal of insight. I asked each group to make a list of what they observed/learned from each other during this first segment. I’m sharing these below…just remember that the lists will make much more sense to the list writers than they will to those who were not there. :o)

(I know that they appear to be going all different directions but if you click on them individually they show up correctly!!)

nysalist1

nysalist2

nysalist3

nysalist4

nysalist5

In the next segment of the workshop, we practiced with an individual sentence in each group, showing how to circle (ask a large number of questions) and to personalize (connecting the statement and the questions to others in the group) Then we added details.

Along with this segment, we added illustrations…and I want to make sure that I show some samples of how illustration helps with visualization which increases engagement and comprehension:

drawing 1

drawing2

Along with an illustration of how what we think we are drawing doesn’t always quite turn out the way we thought it would….tee hee

drawing3

I must apologize to the group that created an amazing poster/sentence for our president Francesco Fratto who makes World Languages SEXY !!! I didn’t get a picture of his poster before we gave it to him as a gift!! If one of you has it, please email it to me and I’ll include it here!

In the third segment we watched as Nora and Birgitte each taught a short lesson and received feedback from students and observers. What amazing teachers! Students and observers were able to see, experience and appreciate all of the positive attributes they had been practicing…and much more. We used the Coaching from the Heart format and there were so many insightful reflections and observations.

I’ll add the PowerPoint that outlines what we did ASAP! Thank you so much for being part of a giving and sharing community!

May you all have a wonderful week with your students!!
with love,
Laurie

NTPRS15: The Ripple Effect 1

by lclarcq on July 29th, 2015

filed under Archived Posts 2015, Coaching, Encouragment, NTPRS, Relationships, Sharing CI/TPRs, Teacher Training

Ah…the ripple effect. It is the essence of teaching. Teaching, I’ve often said, is a prayer. You send your message (lesson) out each day, hoping against hope that someday, in the unseen future, it will make a difference, because you never really know. That is why it was so beautiful to watch the ripples happen right in front of us.

What did we see?

Kindness and encouragement.
The first day (Monday) FIFTY people showed up for the first coaching session. Now you should understand that at the same time participants could choose coaching, a Spanish lesson with Blaine and Von Ray and a Mandarin lesson with Linda Li. Now that is some stiff competition!!!!! I cannot ever remember a year where FIFTY people showed up on the first day. It was beautiful.

And they came with the desire to not only learn, but to support and encourage. Because the coaches gave clear parameters and modeling, there were NO criticisms…only insights, positive reflections and encouragement.

A willingness to share.
Teachers had so many insightful observations that I couldn’t stay away from the coaching sessions. Beginners were volunteering to teach after only FOUR hours of instruction!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Teachers with all levels of experience in the classroom and with the method were together and sharing for one purpose: to grow and to recognize growth.

A desire to honor other teachers.
At one point we began to limit not only the teaching portion, but also the feedback portion of the cycle to five minutes because groups could have easily gone on for an hour sharing feedback! It was so wonderful that we hated to cut it short, but wanted also to honor the fact that many teachers wanted the opportunity to be the teacher. The result of that was that teachers who did not share aloud shared notes and observations personally with teachers when they saw them later. Wow.

A need to be heard.
Nothing touched me more than the woman who came up to me after a teaching cycle in which she had been an observer. “They listened to me. And they really heard me. No one has done that in years. Thank you so much for making this available. I needed it so much.” She was in tears.
That happened several times during the week and I was so moved..to simply be heard.

The beauty of being in the moment.
Because we were focusing on what the teacher was doing right, and how that was reflected in the actions/reactions of the students, everyone in the group was in the moment in an amazing way. There was no chatter between observers. There was no typing emails or answering texts. Coach, teacher, students, observers all in the same place at the same time focusing on the interaction between students and teacher. Beautiful.

Honoring the journey
Each of us is on our own journey. We each take a different path, move at a different pace and pick up different ideas/thoughts/memories/skills along the way. This year there was much less of a frantic pace to “get to the mastery level” and more of a joyful exploration of where we were and what we were doing. There was the opportunity for us to enjoy our journey and to observe and celebrate the journeys of others.

These ripples, and more, spread outward as participants brought a new perspective back to coaching over and over again, as well as to presentations and workshops. It changed meal time conversations and opened a new door to what was called, “The War and Peace Room.”

with love,
Laurie

NTPRS15: Walking the Walk

by lclarcq on July 29th, 2015

filed under Archived Posts 2015, Coaching, Encouragment, NTPRS, Teacher Training

Here are some basic tenets of teaching with TPRS:
1. The teacher constantly works to create an atmosphere of success, inclusion and safety.
2. The teacher builds on students’ successes and strengths.
3. The lesson is highly interactive.
4. The ideas are given by the students, but decisions are controlled by the teacher.
5. Student errors are not criticized; the teacher models appropriate language in response.

Our goal last week was to have the coaching model parallel our teaching model in the classroom!!

So…..
1. The coach constantly works to create an atmosphere of success, inclusion and safety.
2. The group focuses on the teacher’s successes and strengths.
3. The experience was highly interactive.
4. The ideas are given by the coach, if requested, but the decisions are controlled by the teacher.
5. Teacher actions are not criticized; others model additional options when they teach.

The two biggest challenges were that we were not yet used to coaching that way and teachers were not yet used to being coached that way!!

As the week progressed, coaches made several adjustments that helped everyone:

A. If a teacher needed, and requested, direction, the coach offered two options and the teacher chose which one to use, or many times, offered a third to try.

B. If a teacher truly wanted “corrective” feedback, the coach and the teacher met afterwards, alone, to discuss it.

C. We will be labeling responses “growth feedback” rather than “positive feedback” since the term had some negative, emotional connotations from some teachers.

D. Someone in the group, possible the coach on deck, will act as a scribe during the feedback time so that the teacher can have a written summary of what was shared to reflect on.

E. We will post a list of skills for all to see for reflection and feedback.

F. We will post a list, inside and outside of the coaching room, so that all can see what each participant can offer. (Some people didn’t realize until the last day that they could be observers and not teach…we wanted to improve that!)

I was so humbled by the way the coaches took to this new approach and how clearly and deliberately they prepared participants to be successful in this new model.

But I was not prepared (silly me) for the power of the insights shared by the participants involved as students and observers. I learned so much simply by listening to their reflections. I was also overwhelmed by the emotional response of so many involved. Teachers need to be heard.

Each time we observed a coaching cycle (teaching+feedback) we, the coaches, also grew. Here are some comments from coaches…

“I have never learned so much in the position of coach.”

“In this model we ALL grow together. In the end, I just want to say that we never stop growing. By allowing myself to grow, I feel I’m much happier today. I want to thank you for the happiness I have gained. I can’t thank you enough for all the love, support and encouragement I have received from all of you this week.”

” I really want to see the next step in our journey towards offering the best in teacher support that we can, in a way that builds confidence in one’s own ability to analyze strengths and areas for growth.”

“I have every confidence that it will grow and evolve as will we as coaches. I feel a keen responsibility to do all that I can to help others be successful and to enjoy leading their students to true acquisition.”

“It is from each one of you that I continue to grow and be inspired. This certainly is evident in our ever-changing ideas about coaching and reflection on how we can help others grow.”

“Paradigms shifted and hearts soared!”

It was a clear shift and the beginning of a ripple effect that touched the entire conference.

with love,
Laurie

NTPRS15: Coaching For Coaches

by lclarcq on July 29th, 2015

filed under Archived Posts 2015, Coaching, Encouragment, Sharing CI/TPRs, Teacher Training

Or C4C as we affectionately refer to it, is a fairly new addition to the NTPRS line up. For several years now we have offered this day-long workshop to teachers who would like to be trained to support and encourage other teachers on their journey as Comprehensible-Input/TPRS teachers.

This year 30-40 people signed up to attend, and we had decided, just the night before to flip the paradigm on coaching. We showed up nervous, but eager to share this new perspective.

I have to tell you how blown away I was by the courage and heart of my fellow coaches. We really like to be ‘in the know.” We like to plan well and execute well….and here we were with a brand new plan.

The morning began with a series of activities organized by coordinator Teri Weichart. In a series of “mixer” activities, we shared ideas about teaching, coaching and life. By the time the morning was over we had gotten to know the people in the room, and especially those in our smaller groups, much better. There was a lot of laughter and a supportive, caring atmosphere. We had also had the opportunity to talk about the role of coach and what a good coach looks/sounds like. Also, and maybe most importantly, we had each developed an outline of our own personal coaching philosophy.

The next event was to demonstrate how the coaching practice (or teaching cycle) would run using our new paradigm. At least half of these teachers had been to a number of conferences (and C4C trainings) previously and were most familiar with the ‘directive” coaching approach (ie the coach tells the teacher what to do, when to do it and how to do it.) They had signed up for this workshop believing that that was what they would be trained to do.

We recruited Skip Crosby of Maine to be our teacher. I have to give a shout out to Skip for being willing to do this in front of so many other teachers!!!

Five teachers were recruited to be Skip’s students and another five to be the observers. (Two of these ten teachers were coaches and had been through the training the day before….all of the other eight were totally new to the process.) The rest of the 30 or so participants gathered around as an “audience” for the demo. Gary DiBianca and Amy Wopat were coaches on deck to observe me as coach and to give me feedback.

As the coach, I outlined the roles of the:

Teacher (teach; strive to make students feel important and make the language comprehensible)
Students (pay attention to the teacher, try to understand the teacher, tell the teacher if confused)
Observers (watch teacher and students. What does teacher do to make students feel involved/supported and how does teacher make the language comprehensible?)

Skip and I discussed his goals for the lesson (use the verb structure “le da”) and the level of language he wanted to use (level 1 Spanish). He shared that he wanted to try using actors as part of the story.

Skip was a fantastic teacher for the demo. He has his own laid-back style and wasn’t afraid to regroup or ask for input during his teaching. He was also honest about being nervous. (Who isn’t in front of peers?!) His genuine love for teaching and interest in his students was incredibly apparent in his lesson (and he only taught for 5 minutes!!)

****Hope to have the video of this lesson available for you to watch so check back!****

After his lesson, Skip reflected:

His students reflected:

His observers reflected:

“You involved us. The story was about us.” Keith Toda

“It was totally understandable for us and I am a total beginner…because of the pointing, going slowly…and eyes..meeting our eyes.” Pu-mei Leng

“I was happy to be the student because when you asked me the question, I knew the answer. I wasn’t afraid to answer.” Matt (Latin teacher)

“He looked at me and smiled at me and so I felt special in his class.” Kristen Eastland (coach)

Observers:

“I loved how you added surprise to the lesson by throwing the glass on the floor….it showed how the class is going to be fun and spontaneous and unpredictable.” Carla Tarina (coach)

“I loved the (use of the) two colors (when writing Sp/Eng on the board for the students),and you took time to write, you didn’t rush yourself, which gave time to the students to soak it up.” Anna Gilman

“….the smile/frown ..what you did with your face,I thought that really connected, how you communicated with it…the surprise..and when you pulled the actors up there I thought, aha, our whole group’s involved, there’s a strong connection.” “Buck” Arbuckle

“I really noticed how incredibly in-tune you were with your students, students you barely know…you really went through it to make sure that it was comprehensible instead of just plowing ahead. I thought that was amazing.” Kelly Ferguson (coach)

After hearing from everyone Skip shared this:

“(It’s good to hear about) the comprehension piece, which the most important part of this. It’s gratifying to know that they comprehended everything.”

My response to Skip was that I was amazed that it made him feel good to hear that he was most gratified by knowing that his students had full comprehension rather than hearing that he had a “good story.” (because too often that is what we teachers are worried about!)

Skip then shared,
“I tend to think of things as right and wrong…and that there is a right way to do this and if I just learn the right “code” it will all work, and that is really debilitating sometimes, so, I was really trying to figure out what would be realistic in terms of “le da” (gives to him/her) and I think it was working.”

Then he went on to share that he felt that he was just at the point (after 5.5 minutes in) to add another structure–le gusta–because the class was solid on “le da” and the class/observers totally agreed.

Amy Wopat and Gary DiBianca then gave their observations about the coaching process:

“When you were setting him up, you talked to him about his goals and his professional life, you took the time to truly listen.”

“You did everything on the front end, so everyone stayed in their role…There really wasn’t a need to manage.”

and I concluded:
“The point of all of this was for everyone to have a job, to know where to look for what went right, so that we can build on our strengths. If at any point you thought something might have gone wrong, here is my suggestion for you: hang on to the thought and when you get up here to teach, DEMO what you would have liked to have seen. Demo it so people have the chance to see other ways to handle things.”

I believe that this is so important. People do not change because we tell them to change…or even because we ask them to. They change when they are ready, willing, and able to. When we demo options, if they are ready to see a new way, they will see it!! Otherwise, our advice will be wasted and our roles as coaches will be frustrating.

Then Carla Tarini offered one last astute observation:

“As an observer I am just loving looking for everything I love about what you (Skip) did. It was so relaxing and then I want to write so many things down, even the things that are so little but so nice that you showed.”

Carla, as one of the previous day’s teachers, shared how much more she had learned by watching than by teaching.

What is so clear is that our teaching to each other is a true gift. By watching and reflecting I can learn so much from my colleagues and peers. Then I have the courage to teach for you. Thank you to all of those willing to share.

Now you know the background….what happened next was truly astounding…

with love,
Laurie

NTPRS15 : An Introduction to Coaching From the Heart

by lclarcq on July 29th, 2015

filed under Archived Posts 2015, Coaching, Encouragment, Sharing CI/TPRs, Teacher Training

I hardly know where to begin. I have been to a number of national conferences and I am still surrounded by the effects of this one.

For the coaching team, the week started on Friday evening as 20 of us began to arrive in Reston, Va. We usually only see each other once a year and so our first hours are spent hugging, laughing and catching up on the previous year personally and professionally.

The following day we began with what is affectionately known as “the Retreat”. It’s a meeting amongst the coaches to craft any changes in the NTPRS coaching philosophy and approach. The coaching coordinator and the C4C coordinator also share their plan for the week with us. It’s a full day and we count on it to prepare us for an unusually busy week ahead.

This year, Lizette Liebold and Teri Weichart (our coaching coordinators) asked me to demonstrate a slightly different take on coaching that worked well in Maine and in Vermont. Dubbed “Coaching from the Heart” by Beth Crosby (Maine), this approach has two important elements: a) The coach’s job is to make the teacher feel safe and supported throughout the experience b) The focus is on the teacher’s strengths, not weaknesses.

The purpose of this approach to coaching is to empower the teacher. Teachers, particularly now, need to feel safe and to feel empowered. Without those two elements, teachers will not step out of their comfort zones to try new things nor to grow. They are ESSENTIAL to a growth mindset and a growth plan.
I wanted teachers to believe in their own abilities to understand teaching with Comprehensible Input, to apply the skills of TPRS in their own classroom and to be able to adjust without the direction of a trained presenter or coach as necessary.

Michele Kindt and Carla Tarini each took turns as teachers as we walked through the steps of Coaching from the Heart. How do I put into words what happened?

As each of them finished their 5 minute lesson, they sat down and shared what they felt had gone well. It’s so very hard to teach to, and in front of, a group of our peers, that it’s often hard to know what went well!!! When they had finished, the teachers who had been the “students” in the class each gave Michele and Carla their feedback. They were instructed, from the perspective as a student, to share what had made them feel supported, safe and included and/or what the teacher had done to make the language comprehensible. One by one each shared his/her insight with the teacher. EACH ONE had a slightly unique and personal perspective on what the teacher had done to accomplish the two goals. They were encouraged to be specific about the actions of the teacher and their own reactions.

Then the group of “observers” who sat directly behind the students during the lesson shared their observations about what the teachers had done in the lesson that had made the students feel included and had made the language comprehensible. They were reporting from the perspective of an observer and fellow teacher.

Not one “I would have” or “You should have” or “In my classroom” was spoken. When the observers were finished, the coach asked the teacher to reflect again, this time including any “Aha” moments that might have occurred during the feedback from students and observers. Then the coach asked, “Is there anything that you might try differently? and Is there anything here that you will think about differently in your classroom when you return?”

After each demo, there was almost a hushed feeling in the room, as if something profound and sacred had occurred. (No, that isn’t hyperbole.) Teachers, Coach, Students and Observers were deeply moved by the experience.

The group, who had been offering a different kind of support for teachers for a decade, offered to change to a new way of coaching, literally overnight since Coaching For Coaches began the next day at 8:30 am !!!

Within 30 minutes we had agreed on the following adaptations to our coaching plan:

1. There will be two coaches for each coaching station, a coach and a coach on deck.
2. Each teacher teaches for 5 minutes.
3. The coach does not interrupt the lesson unless the teacher asks for support/input.
4. The teacher can stop at any time to talk with the coach, make a change or restart the lesson.
5. If asked for help, the coach offers two options and invites the teacher to choose which s/he prefers.
6. The coach, students and observers only give positive feedback for the teacher to build on.
7. The feedback centers on the two questions: How did the teacher make students feel safe and welcome? How did the teacher make the language comprehensible?

Comments that I heard that day:

“It felt as if we were all in this positive growth mode together: teacher, coach, students and observers, a team.

“I could stop worrying about what the coach and the observers were thinking, because I knew that their feedback would only be positive.”

“I needed the reminder of how it feels to be the teacher.”

“I felt heard. Really heard. For the first time in years.”

“I had no idea that I was doing half of the things that they (students and observers) saw.”

“I am so touched by the love everyone is showing the teacher.”

“Student and observer reports were so insightful, I was blown away.”

“The time to reflect, as a teacher, student or observer was so valuable.”

“I learned so much more by watching than by teaching….who knew?”

It became clear that observing was the key to personal growth. It allowed us to watch and reflect in a way we had not done before. With that in mind, we welcomed participants on Sunday’s Coaching for Coaches workshop.

with love,
Laurie

CI Challenges Archived Post 6.12.12

by lclarcq on December 6th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2013, Coaching, Encouragment, Musings, Not So Good Days, Sharing CI/TPRs, Teacher Training, TPRS techniques

How do we deal with using CI when some days it is so challenging?!!

Those of you who know me, are aware that getting to, and maintaining a healthy body weight are a challenge for me. I keep seeing all of these parallels between my challenges and the difficulties that exist when a teacher attempts to incorporate a Comprehensible Input approach to his or her teaching.

Several people have mentioned that no one really knows EXACTLY how humans acquire, maintain and develop language, but at this time, we believe that certain things do contribute: sheltering vocabulary, a variety of high-frequency structures,interaction with that language, repeated comprehensible input,encouragement of one form or another,and success in conjunction the brain’s natural “wiring”. Yet, each human being may develop language and language skills in a unique fashion based on his/her brain, body and life experiences.

Isn’t that the same with getting to and maintaining a healthy weight? Obviously there is no “magic pill” or no one would have this struggle. There are, however, a collection of things that we believe contribute to a healthy weight: limiting calories, a variety of nutrient-dense foods eaten in small frequent meals, a constant intake of water, steady activity, encouragement and success in conjunction with the body’s natural functions.

The challenge to “do what works” in both circumstances can be extreme, EVEN WHEN WE ARE KNOWLEDGEABLE, MOTIVATED AND WELL-INFORMED. Pat may have a much better read on this, but this is what I see….

Challenge #1: Dealing with discomfort

Human beings are not good with this. We do everything possible to avoid it. We have hundreds, if not thousands, of little tricks in our repertoire to make sure that we avoid and/or eliminate discomfort. Changing from the comfortable is even more uncomfortable!! And scary. People who are physically or emotionally sensitive find discomfort even more difficult.

Things that we do to avoid/eliminate discomfort get in the way of our change and growth. Why? We have well-developed skills and entire skill sets of unhealthy ways to deal with discomfort. We call them habits. :o)

Challenge #2: Measuring our self-worth instead of believing in our self-worth

People who believe that they are inherently valuable because they live and breathe don’t get as uncomfortable as those who don’t. People who don’t believe that they have intrinsic value have, as I said before, a highly-developed set of skills that they use to a) determine value and b) measure their own value. Because we don’t like to be uncomfortable, from childhood we hone those skills that make us ‘measure up” well on our own scales. (pun intended) Because of the insecurities that haunt and stalk us, we measure everyone and everything. Because not measuring up is exhausting and painful, we stick to the things that we are good at and give them a much higher value than other skills.

Challenge #3: Lack of Trust

Changing a paradigm requires a leap of faith. It might be taken in baby steps or one giant bungee jump, but it requires rejecting the known for the unknown. That takes trust. Both improving TPRS skills and losing weight are easier and more enjoyable with caring support team. However, people who have been burned in the past by friends and colleagues who should have encouraged them but didn’t will find it hard to reach out and share this journey. When a journey gets tough, it helps so much to turn to someone for help. Without that support, it’s easy to turn around and go back. If our sense of self-worth is measured on our ability to work independently and/or if it is new and uncomfortable for us to rely on the assistance of others, these changes are going to be difficult.

Challenge #4: Not Putting First Things First

This is about being able to take the “long view” and see ourselves, our actions and our choices with a judicious eye. Over and over and over again, for any number of reasons, we put other things in front of what is truly important.

In the case of weight loss, my list is a mile long and I have conveniently convinced myself that other things should come first. I’m dead wrong, but that doesn’t stop me from thinking this way.

In the case of using Comprehensible Input, the same darn thing occurs. Any teacher who isn’t using it has a list of “good” reasons that they are convinced are more important.

Some people can overcome all of these issues lickety-split (thanks Susie!) They jump in feet first without worrying, overthinking, balking or obsessing. Others take things cautiously, carefully, one step at a time. They analyze and adapt. Neither approach is better or worse than the other. In the areas of weight-loss and TPRS I’ve met both kinds of folks who have been successful.

I’ve also met people who follow a strict regimen. So follow the guidelines and never stray because they believe so strongly in “what works”. Others do so because they have a hard time “marrying” diverse trains of thought. Whatever the reason, the strict regimen works for them.

I’ve met others who would lose their mind without forays outside of the box. People who need a dictation, a project or a double-circle activity the way some folks need an occasional pizza, beer and chocolate chip cookie in order to keep their lives in balance. These steps off of the path do not actually add to language acquisition nor to weight loss, but they have other positive effects that make them valuable, at the right time in the right amounts.

Can “anyone” be a CI teacher? Yes. Can “anyone” get to and maintain a healthy weight? Yes. But there will always be challenges. It will never be simple. It may never be easy. Some people will find the challenges greater than others. Some will be able to do it quickly and others will take a lifetime to get there. It can NOT be done in total isolation, without the ability to self-soothe, without a belief in the inherent value of the human soul nor without the ability to let go of the old and make room for the new. But, when we look at the gifts we receive in return (as well as our students, families,etc.)both changes are inherently and unarguably valuable.

If we have already “crossed over” on the journey, we need to remember to honor the journey of others rather than judge it, or our own journey loses it’s validity.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

On Being Coached Kirstin Plante Archived Post 9.3.12

by lclarcq on December 6th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2012, Coaching, NTPRS

(Originally posted 9/3/12)
From Kirstin Plante at TPRS Nederland

When talking about a conference one tends to speak only of the content of the workshops, the logistics and the presenters. I will talk about all of these, of course, but at NTPRS I was also impressed by the participants. I loved their hunger for information, their commitment and the enthusiastic performance of the tasks that were given in the workshops. Their open attitude towards other participants and the spontaneous group activities at lunch time and in the evening gave me a warm feeling. I think the presenters set an example by being open to anyone who wanted to have a chat with them.

But the most impressive to me was that so many teachers would have themselves coached in the coaching sessions. There was a special room with a number of coaches ready at all times to help you improve your skills. Now it is one thing to sit in a workshop listening to the presenter and performing a task or two, and it a completely different thing to stand in front of the critical eye of a group of peers trying out your newly acquired skills and …be coached! This is, believe me, one of the scariest things in a teacher’s life. And still the whole week the coaching room has been full of people who dared to take this step.

I myself have been coached several times, and I have observed different coaching groups. It was literally amazing to see how in just half an hour of teaching with a coach people develop their skills so strongly. I have seen people who fell silent after every sentence in the beginning and ended up asking one question after another without any visible effort. Teachers who would start like a salt pillar and change into an expressive communicator, and teachers who didn’t dare look anyone in the eyes and who, after only twenty minutes, already approached students directly and friendly. The encouragement and the friendly and concrete help of the coaches brought these teachers not just one but several steps further.

I felt touched by the encouraging attitude of the ‘students’, the courage of the teachers and their growing self confidence.Because of what I witnessed in these sessions, I am very happy to have participated in the workshop for coaches (by Teri Wiechart and Lisette Liebold) the day before the start of the conference, because I feel that coaches are an invaluable help for teachers who are working with TPRS – not only those who are just starting, but also the more experienced ones. I think more of us should learn how to stimulate and help our colleagues in our schools or in regional groups, and the workshop for coaches teaches us some helpful ways of doing this. I will certainly be there next year!

Kirstin Plante

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Where’s The Beef? Archived Post 8.5.10

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2010, Coaching, Encouragment, Musings, Teacher Training, TPRS techniques

(originally posted 8/5/10)
In case you’ve never seen it….

If you weren’t watching tv in the 80’s (or if you just want a good laugh), check out the youtube link for the (in)famous “Where’s the beef?” commercial. It’s a classic.

Not only do I love the commercial…I love the message: Hey …where is the stuff that REALLY matters?

That is a great question. That is why CI-based methods rock. If you are looking to “beef” up language acquisition, right now, CI is the best way to go!!

Last week in Los Alamitos, a group of people got together to support each other and develop skills. It was not a formal session organized by the conference. It was a group that gravitated together around a desire to really dig into the ‘meat” of the issue: How can I be a better teacher?

Becoming a better CI-based teacher is so very much like becoming more fluent in a new language (or even in a first language!) We have to be surrounded by the method, immersed in the teaching moment, and gently directed by a focused structure.

When we work with students to provide an environment that supports acquisition, we MUST INTERACT with the students USING THE LANGUAGE. When we are working to acquire teaching skills we must do the same. We need to teach…with a goal in mind..to increase COMPREHENSIBLE INTERACTION with our students. This is how we a) build relationships and b) provide language acquisition opportunities.Learning ABOUT CI teaching is beautiful, fascinating, interesting. But it’s just the bun people.

Whenever possible, take the opportunity to teach, in front of a supportive friend, using the skills you will need in the classroom. That is where you will find the beef!!Yeah I know, easier said than done….but the pieces are in place:

1. Scripting. It’s long been a part of CI-based teacher prep…and you can share scripts with other teachers as a non-threatening way to get started. How does this look? Do you think that this is where the questioning should go? Can you think of other questions that I could ask? If you are already a scripter,then all you need to do is find the email address of a willing conspirator and you have begun your journey.

2. Skype. Wow. Teach in front of the camera….and your audience can be there without being there!!!! We can practice teach any skill…with or without students and get feedback.

3. Blogs/Listservs. Find a partner. Ask and ye shall receive. Folks are out there…I promise! Check out the map at www.tprstorytelling.com Pick a moment that went well or that didn’t . Write about it. Get feedback.

4. Invite someone in. Someone in your department. Someone in your area. A student from another class. A coach. Many of the folks who coached at NTPRS or IFLT are available to come to your school and work right with you in your classroom!! How cool is that?!!

5. Attend a coaching workshop. Whenever, wherever you see one. Ask for one if you don’t . Organize one. Not sure how? Contact me (lclarcq@yahoo.com) and I’ll put you in touch with all of the information that you need.

6. Watch. Sometimes it is outside our comfort zone to get up and share our teaching selves with other teachers. Wayyyyyyyyyyyyy outside. So take the opportunity to be a student or an observer in a coaching situation. There is so much to learn there.

Where’s the beef? In the teaching. In the moment. In the opportunity to stand up, get into it, talk about it, break it down, try it again. I saw it over and over and over and over again. I promise you. If you find the right people to work with…it will change your teaching…and your life.

With love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Soulmates Part 2 Archived Post …3.28.10

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2010, Coaching, Encouragment, Musings, Not So Good Days, Relationships, Teacher Training

(originally posted 3/28/10)

Many times our Teaching Soulmates are not located in our own buildings or even in our own districts.   In this day and age, there are so many ways to find and keep in touch with the people who will keep us going.

Locally, look towards your Language Teachers’ Associations.  Several of my closest friends in the world, and my almas gemelas, came from WAFFLE (Wayne-Finger Lakes Foreign Language Educators) and our association with NYSAFLT (New York State Association of Foreign Language Teachers).    NYSAFLT conferences have connected me with other kindred souls.

If you haven’t yet been involved with a listserv, there is always FLTEACH  and the moretprs list through Yahoo groups.  At www.moretprs.net you can find a bulletin board-type of forum and all kinds of people to chat with about teaching and life.  How do you find a teaching soulmate here?  By reading posts.  And no, you don’t have to have them all delivering messages to your inbox.  They all allow you to join and read posts on the site itself…without ever having to open a message.

Many people have soulmates on these lists…and have never even communicated with them.    Sometimes a frequent poster has a point of view or way of thinking that sparks your imagination.   You will find yourself drawn to reading his/her posts whenever you need a boost.

Sometimes “lurkers” will send a message ‘offlist” directly to a poster’s email, and an electronic exchange begins.   I have “met” several incredible individuals this way.   Then, of course, sometimes a friendship is sparked by a good old exchange of ideas on the list.  At the annual NYSAFLT, NECTFL, Central States, SWOCLT, ACTFL and other conferences, folks put dots or smileys on their nametags so that they can identify fellow listers (lurkers or not!!)

Some of the most powerful connections have come when someone writes to the group with a need, problem or concern and is rewarded with an outpouring messages, on and off-list, from other teachers.   We are here for each other in a way that is sometimes not possible in our own buildings.

Recently, websites and blogs have created another way to build a family/support system for teaching.  Check out the TPRS map for folks who have volunteered to be mentors!!

There has never been a better time to make a friend…

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Soulmates Archived Post…3.28.10

by lclarcq on November 30th, 2014

filed under Archived Posts 2010, Coaching, Encouragment, Musings, Relationships, Teacher Training

(originally posted 3/28/10)

Soulmates

Right now teachers are in a tough spot.   We are being flattened by the expectations and criticism of administration, parents, the state, the government, the media and the public.   What we really want to respond to is the needs of our students, but blindfolded, hand-tied and foot-bound by checklists and paperwork, we often feel trapped, immobilized, crushed.   The image I carry around is that of a car crushed into a little cube in the junkyard and treated like scrap, yet being expected to function as a limousine carrying important dignitaries.

It is exhausting, demeaning, frustrating and frankly, impossible.

What will keep us afloat, or drag us down, in these difficult times is each other.

It may be time to approach our interactions at school like we do our Facebook pages.   The folks that whine and complain, point out all of the difficulties and pull us down with them need a Delete button right now.   Not an Erase button….they are still our colleagues.   But a Delete button, that lets us go and visit them from time to time, when we want to……rather than listen to their obviously and continously negative status day after day.

What we need to do, and are rarely equipped to do, is to seek out our teaching soulmates.

We have to do it ourselves.  Although most schools have mentor programs, they are designed to match subject area teachers to assist with curriculum and alignment.   They are NOT designed to match teachers who will feed each other professionally with inspiration and a shared passion for teaching.  How do we do we find those people?

1)  Listen to the students.   Whom do they talk about with respect?    Are there teachers whose activities they are still talking about with enthusiasm when they get to your room?   These are teachers that you may want to get to know better as educational partners.

2)  Look around the building.  Who is displaying student work?  Who is inviting folks to observe student displays, inventions, competitions?

3)  Listen in on classes as you walk by.  I can promise you that incredible things are happening in your building.  We just rarely have the time to notice.  Pick one period a week where you take just 5 minutes and walk around the building and take it in.

4)  Think about the club advisers.  Who is doing cool stuff with the students?  Activities that resonate with your approach to education?

5)  When you are at a conference day at school, sit near people you think may think like you do in order to get to know them better.

In some buildings, it is actually AGAINST the school’s culture to display enthusiasm for learning new things and becoming a better teacher.    If that is the case in your school, believe me, you are not alone.  I have seen it in many places.  I also know that within those schools are deep pockets of dedicated teachers who, in their own corners of the world, are reading journals, keeping blogs, joining professional organizations and changing the world.

There is someone in your building that you can connect with as an “alma gemela” (twin soul!).   It may not be a teacher.  It may be a guidance counselor, a secretary, a custodian, a cafeteria worker, an SRP.   But I can promise you that fostering that professional friendship may keep you sane over the next few years….and be an incredible blessing in your life.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.