(Originally posted 7/27/11 )
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.
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