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

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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.