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!!)
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:
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
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!!
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.”
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)
“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…
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.
From time to time I invite other teachers to write a guest post for this blog. There are so many dedicated, caring and brilliant people in the classroom that I would like to share with you. I met Piedad Gutierrez of New Jersey at an NTPRS National Conference in Las Vegas well over a decade ago and she has continued to be a wise friend and insightful colleague. She had so many things to say last weekend at the conference in NJ that I offered her a venue here. I’m so happy to be able to share her thoughts!! When you are finished, check out her website at TPRS Of New Jersey. with love, Laurie
Something really good is happening in NJ. When the state world language teachers conference invites Dr, Steven Krashen as his keynote speaker, one of the day-long workshops is facilitated by Laurie Clarcq, and three of the one-hour workshops are presented by TCI and TPRS teachers, something really interesting is evident. There is a shift, a shift for the best.
Dr. Krashen said the obvious, what we already know he thinks: acquisition is different from learning. It is all about the story, the compelling desire to know about something. It is never about learning the language. However he said something I have not heard that clearly before, the vocabulary and the grammar come within the narrative. May be we do not need to pre-teach the vocabulary nor we need to explain the grammar. It is all about meaning, not rules. We read, listen to, and watch stories; therefore those should be our means of communication. All those eclectic activities, all those boring dittos and cloze activities should be replaced with the stories, the narratives, the legends, the comics, the videos, the poems, the songs. The language is just a tool, not the subject.
The subject is the audience. The students are the subjects of our classes. We teach them, not the books. If we focus in what drives our students’ interest, we win. With or without a curriculum, topics or themes, a list of words, a sequence of structures; as long as we are able to identify what our students care for, we can conduct classes that lead to acquiring the language.
Lauire Clarcq, a master TPRS teacher, shared that Embedded Reading strategy that she and Michele Whaley developed. Six hours were not enough to get closer to the brilliance and clarity of the techniques she developed with Michele. Story within story within story, like the Russian dolls. Keep the repetitions going while recycling known language and adding new information to the story. Keep the interest of the students by twisting just a little where the story is going. Magic! Step by step, Laurie guided us, explained to us how reading sentences is different from reading paragraphs, used cognates, embellished and enriched the story and kept it simple and funny. Ah! Humor and compassion, Laurie’s middle names.
Less is more goes not only for lesson planning, it goes also for presenting. When you have only one hour to convey a message, it is very difficult to select what to say and how to explain to an audience of teachers eager to learn new tricks. That would be my only concern. TCI and TPRS are not collections of activities, the narrative is the activity. Asking the story, the movie, the poem, the song IS the activity. The authentic communication developed between the teacher and the students, is core of CI. The students comprehend what the teacher is presenting and the teacher comprehends what the students are interested in. There is no need for pre, during, and post movie talk activities; the movie talk IS the activity! There is no need for pre, during, and post reading activities, the embedded reading IS the activity!
TPRS and CI are defined methods with clear steps to follow. The students get to know the routine; the students know when to listen and when to talk, when to write and when to read. You, the teacher train them.
I’m sharing here so that you can see where my education journey has been. Please stay tuned to Larry for more interesting posts and questions!
I have used TPRS in a variety of classroom situations. Some might see me as a high school Spanish teacher. I have been seen that way for over 32 years. However, I see myself as a person who helps students to learn about and navigate life using the Spanish language. (or if I am teaching English to local farmworkers..English) TPRS (Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling) has been my primary approach to teaching for over 15 years.
I know that working through of lens of teaching via TPRS® has allowed me to improve my interactions with students on a daily basis, thereby increasing their abilities to comprehend and communicate in the language.
How? There is a more detailed explanation below, however, here is basically what is happening:
A. The teacher interacts (as a role model and guide) with students on a topic that students are connected to.
B. The teacher’s job is to structure the interaction so that students will acquire new language, successfully contribute to the interaction, feel valued, and ultimately have a high level of comprehension of the material.
C. The teacher believes that LANGUAGES ARE ACQUIRED through comprehensible input rather than “learned” through lessons. Because the human brain has a natural ability to understand and to develop language, teachers should make classroom conditions as ideal as possible for acquisition to occur.
On the surface, there are three “basic” elements to TPRS :
1. Introduce any new language in context.
2. Interact verbally with students using the new language in context so that all language communication is completely comprehensible.
3. Incorporate the new language into a literacy-based activity.
Below the surface are multiple layers of understanding, interpreting and integrating:
1. The unconscious and conscious functions of the brain in the area of language acquisition.
2. How a student’s emotional state affects interaction, attitude and memory.
3. How a student’s levels of social, emotional, physical and cognitive development affect nearly everything.
4. The value of relationships in any setting, particularly educational.
5. The relationship between emotion and language.
And much more…
Keeping these layers of knowledge in mind, TPRS teachers plan lessons using one or more of the steps and deliberately incorporate any number of specific teaching skills that most stellar teachers incorporate. It is not a big mystery; it’s simply good teaching.
Skills such as:
1. Eye contact
2. Appropriate pacing
3. Checking for comprehension
4. Constant interaction with students as a means of formative assessment
5. High-quality questioning strategies
6. Repeating, reusing and recycling information and skills
7. Asking for and encouraging responses that use higher-order thinking
8. Creating situations where students interact with each other
9. Connecting curriculum with the interests and needs of the students
10. Personalizing and differentiating instruction
I believe that TPRS is less about “learning a language” and more about Life’s natural growth processes in the classroom, for the teacher and the students. I have been involved with the training, coaching and mentoring of teachers for over 20 years. The knowledge and skills that I work to develop as a TPRS® teacher help me to work with teachers of all disciplines.
True TPRS instruction is about knowing what is going on below the surface, not just planning what activities are occurring on the surface.
Good TPRS training is ongoing. No one incorporates TPRS well after a two hour presentation, just as no one becomes a good teacher after one Intro to Education course. Each teacher using TPRS® will come to the concept, acquire the knowledge, and work on the skills in his or her own way and time.
TPRS teaching is about being part of the educational community. TPRS was originally developed by classroom teachers and shared by classroom teachers. It continues to evolve through the contributions of classroom teachers. TPRS® belong to coaching groups, listservs, Facebook groups, Twitter, wikispaces and more. They write numerous blogs, host websites and continually invite teachers into their classrooms to observe and to give feedback.
Every teacher using TPRS has his/her own challenges. In an ELL/ESL classroom there is often not one native language to rely on for comprehension checks so additional teacher skills are required. Languages that do not use the same alphabet as English have different approaches to incorporating literacy in order to address that challenge. Some languages rely heavily on cognates in early instruction, while others, such as Chinese, cannot. The more that we communicate with each other, the more we help each other address our challenges.
Despite the variety of challenges, certain things remain constant:
1. Clearly comprehensible language in context
2. Scaffolded student interaction
3. Oral/aural confidence tied to literacy-based activities
4. Positive classroom relationships
5. Continued growth and development for teacher and students
Thank you for asking for input. We believe strongly in what we do. We see it change the lives of teachers and students every single day.
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.
I am always gobsmacked by the willingness of TPRS/CI teachers to share information, ideas and materials. I’m thankful to all of you. The Pay It Forward principle is part of the success of this methodology. Ideas get put out there for others to chew on, digest and utilize….and in doing so we are constantly improving, not only our own techniques, but the “method” as well.
However, there are a number of teachers out there who react almost violently to this method. MANY of us have been accosted personally and professionally because we use Comprehensible Input methods in our teaching. Sometimes the reaction is simply disbelief and rejection…but other times it is confrontation, insults, nasty emails and more. Sad, but true.
OUR presentation of the concept, the method and the materials matters. Teachers can be proud and protective. We need to be especially gentle now, when all teachers are being attacked for things beyond their control and are feeling (justifiably) defensive.
Perspective is reality. What they hear affects their perspective. What we say affects what they hear.
When we say “This way is better”, they hear “Your way is bad.”
When we say “This method makes you a better teacher”, they hear “You are a bad teacher.”
When we say “Output activities don’t work”, they hear “Your lessons are useless.”
It really doesn’t matter what we think…we will never open eyes and hearts to a different way of seeing language and students if that is what they hear.
THE BEST WAY for teachers to believe in the power of CI is to experience success as a CI student. Barring that, we need to offer them changes that they can make in their program that are manageable. Once teachers have ‘flipped the banana”, so to speak, there is no stopping them…they are hungry for all there is to know about CI. But before they’ve actually bought in to the idea, we need to let them have the time they need to make the paradigm shift.
Others may have more advice for those of you overflowing with CI love and needing to share. Here are a few things that have helped me:
NUMBER ONE!!!! A quote from somewhere that I keep on my desk: “People can change. You can’t change people. People can only change themselves, when they want to or need to. Be willing to let them do it.”
#2: Show off your students, not yourself. Statements like “I’m so happy with what they have accomplished.”, “I’m blown away by the caliber of their writing.” , “It’s so exciting to see their confidence when watching a movie in the TL” “She was able to express the most beautiful thought in class today.”
#3: Invite people to observe. Seeing is believing.
#4: Offer the information as a gift, a way to use the talents and strengths that the teachers already have. Pop-up grammar is FUN! A knowledge of the culture can be incorporated in a beautiful way. A sense of humor is a gift.
#5: Roll out the numbers. Not yours first, but be ready to put your money where your mouth is. I’d like us to consider a place to collectively post results on AP (ie Michele Whaley’s third year students scoring 4s on the AP Russian test!!!) so we can show people the data that schools demand these days.
#6: Roll out the supporting research. Ask on the list if you need it. Get the names you need to throw around so that people see that this is legitimate.
#7. Learn to speak Krashen. Read Krashen. Visit his website. He’s got the research.
#8. Keep in touch with anyone who shows interest. Let them know that TPRS is a collaborative approach rather than competitive by your actions.
#9. Don’t take disbelief or rejection personally. Or at least try not to. If you have presented in a clear, kind manner, then the reaction is not about you at all.
10. ENJOY THE SHARING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I have been fed and filled by every conversation I’ve ever had about TPRS.