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I’m Losing Them Archived Post 1.13.13

(Originally posted 1/13/13)

Many of my colleagues, whom I love as a family (who doesn’t after 25+ years in the same building?) have a very traditional view of education. They may have brought some of the activities into the 21st century with technology,but the philosophy is the same:

a. Some people are smart and some aren’t.
b. Schools are for, and should reward, the smart people.
c. Teachers are the smartest people of all.
d. Students who agree with a,b, and c will be the best students.
e. Every one else is not going to be successful in life.

This is enhanced by the fact that I teach in a small community with a very distinct social hierarchy. A hierarchy that is repeated generation after generation, because most people stay in the area. It is not unusual for students to be living on the same land that was farmed by their great-grandparents.

They teach in a way , and assign work, that they like. They are so convinced that they know best, that they cannot be challenged, and will not engage in discussion about other options. Frankly, I myself was like that in many ways myself. I was always considered smart and a good student. I considered myself a good teacher. It was humbling, and difficult, when I began to realize that I was only a good teacher for certain students. It was a principal who pointed that out to me. Why? Because I was teaching his son, who was not a “good” students. I am grateful that he showed me how I was mistreating and mis-teaching his son….because at the time I really had no idea that I was.

My son, as many of you know, deals with anxiety and depression. In high school,when he was not in control of those challenges, he was considered disengaged, lazy, etc., etc. In reality, he was barely functional because it took all of the energy he had to simply be present. Even after his diagnosis was explained to his teachers (my colleagues), they continued not only to view him that way, but to ask him why he was so lazy, and discuss his “laziness” with other students on a regular basis. Since then, I have tried very hard to see my own students with more accurate eyes. What I have found over and over again, is that students who don’t work have reasons. Many times, as an adult, I wouldn’t see things the way that they do. However, the majority of the time, I am blown away by what they are dealing with.

As I have expended more time and energy into getting to know students, I have also come to see that my goals, and their goals are sometimes miles apart. THIS is what creates the greatest gap with my students.

In some ways, this gap is necessary. I’m an adult. I have knowledge and understanding and perspective that they do not yet have. I’m supposed to use that knowledge to help them to become adults themselves. My mistake, too often, is to forget that they are not yet adults.

They are adolescents and adolescents are wired to have a cynical view of adults. It is one way in which they separate themselves from the adults in their lives and begin to develop their own thoughts and views. We have to accept that if we work with teens. But this group of adolescents is coming of age in a world that is different from any world that mankind has ever known. I suppose that all generations have a unique quality that makes them different from the previous ones, but this group? This group has two distinct new realities:

1. They have all of the known knowledge, and emerging knowledge, of the world at their fingertips. In 5 seconds or less and getting faster every minute. Past generations (back to the beginning of mankind) have always relied on the older generation for knowledge. This generation doesn’t have to. They are teaching themselves and learning on their own all the time. It will change how the young perceive the old. It has to.

2. At the same time, they have knowledge and skills (in the realm of technology) that the previous generation does not. It is, in many ways, flipping our generational reality upside-down. This generation has a sense, if not a full-blown knowledge of this new reality. It changes how they relate to adults. I believe that it is going to change society. It has to.

So, instead of growing up on a society that revers and respects adults for their knowledge, they are growing up, with cynical adolescent minds, knowing that they have as much, IF NOT MORE, access to knowledge as the adults that are attempting to educate them.

In addition, they KNOW that they will be adults in a world that doesn’t need to look to anyone for knowledge and information. This changes our roles, as adults and and teachers, and we need to figure out what our new role is. Why? Because we cannot teach if we don’t have students….and bit by bit, our students do not see themselves as students. Or at least students of something that we have to offer.

At the same time that this is occurring, the educational world is requiring us to be even more “information-driven”!!! What we are supposed to be giving them is the one thing that they least want and need!!!!

So now we get to the dilemma. This kids have tuned out and what do we do?

Truthfully, all of my philosophical rambling may not be Kevin’s dilemma. They may just be under-rested, under-caffeinated and under-motivated.

Either way, getting to know them and their goals for the course and for life never hurts. At the very least, when we understand where kids are coming from we tend to take their disengagement less personally. We can say, quite honestly, “Well then, you are making a personal choice to not participate. The consequences of that will be ______________” If we know their goals, we can have conversation with them about the benefits of having different goals…and why we think that different goals are possible and worthwhile for them. Many students think that teachers care more about themselves than about their students. This era of grading teachers based on students’ results is not going to help that any. Honest conversation about our own goals in life and our goals for our students may appear to fall on deaf ears, but they will hear us. We just may never see the results of that.

I’m going to wind this up with something that you have heard me say before: Teaching is a prayer. We offer our lessons up to the greater good, hoping, because we have no other choice, that good will come of it….even if we never see it.

with love,

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.

CI Challenges Archived Post 6.12.12

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,

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.

Thank You Mrs. Zengerle! Archived Post 5.7.13

(Originally posted 5/7/13)

Thank you Mrs. Zengerle…for accepting me…

Mrs. Zengerle was my first grade teacher and I have absolutely no idea what she looked like. All of my memories of her are of what she allowed me to do and who she allowed me to be.

Mrs. Zengerle let me help anyone in the class who wanted a partner instead of assigning me one.

She let me read whatever books I wanted instead of staying with the reading group. She let me create a four-box diorama when everyone else made a one box diorama. She didn’t make fun of me when I brought in clean underwear for my friend Deanna to wear because she didn’t have any.

Mrs. Zengerle let me climb on the top of the monkey bars even though I got too scared to come down and the principal had to come and get me.

Mrs. Zengerle had rules, don’t get me wrong. And there were consequences for students who didn’t follow them. But I was an obsessive rule-follower. I was a worrier and a classic over-achiever.

And Mrs. Zengerle “got” me. She saw the strengths and the weaknesses of a six-year old and honored them both.

I practiced saying her name for weeks before school started, and then, within minutes of the start of the school day I found out that I had been practicing it WRONG all along. I was in tears. I know…a bit silly from an adult perspective…but I had wanted her to like me, and so I was very careful to say

Hello Mrs. Zengerle (Zen-girl-y)!!! VERY LOUDLY when I came into the room. She came over and read my name tag and hugged me and told me how glad she was that I was in her class.

When she said, “Good morning class, I’m Mrs. Zengerle (Sang-earl) ” I cried silent tears of embarrassment for having mispronounced her name. I was sure that she must hate me. But of course, she did not. She didn’t even mention my mistake. It wasn’t long before I realized that in her room, mistakes were not a reason to feel humiliation. What a wonderful gift!

I’m pretty sure that Mrs. Zengerle made all of her first graders feel special and important. It just doesn’t get better than that. So thank you Mrs. Zengerle….so very much.

with love,

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Thank You Mrs. Root! Archived Post 5.6.13

(Originally posted 5/6/13)

Thank you Mrs. Root…for teaching me Perspective and so much more…

(FYI…I’m talking about the school year 1966-1967….it was a different world….)Mrs. Root was my very first school teacher. (We didn’t do pre-school or nursery school back then…)

She must have been incredible because I have incredibly clear memories of her and her class. And they are all good ones…

Kindergarten was held in a separate building and we rode our own bus…no big kids to help us or to intimidate us. (although maybe that would have kept Patrick from biting a big chunk out of my friend’s leg on the way home one day….but that is another story.)

It was only a half-day, maybe even only two hours, but it seems that we did a million things each day when we were there. To me, it was is was heaven. It was beautifully clean and organized, each area labeled and organized. We learned to take care of every pair of scissors, every paste jar, every circle-time mat. It meant that we were big enough to handle those jobs.

There was a glorious job chart that changed often so that we each had a chance to have the best jobs. (Actually, I don’t remember there being any really bad jobs, but some were more highly-coveted.) I loved being in charge of the scissors center….on those days it was my job to make sure that every pair was returned to it’s holder, always point down and the finger holes lined up like an army of keys ready and waiting to open any door. I had a hearty disdain for the pasting table where my male classmates were messy and smeared paste on the table like finger paint and dared each other to eat it in large quantities.

Of course the most-coveted job was line-leader and if you were lucky enough to have a birthday during the school year, you were guaranteed to be the line leader on your special day!! (On the other hand, I had an elementary school gym teacher who had the class line up in two straight lines on your birthday so that we could run through the line as quickly as we could so that the class could give us our birthday spankings!! Like I said, it was another era…)

Forty-five years later, I still have several momentos of kindergarten. The first is a hand print cast in Plaster of Paris and spray-painted gold with my name and 1966 scratched into the back with a pencil in five-year old sprawl. This isn’t your run-of-the-mill hand casting….it’s in reverse!! We made a cast first, and then a cast of the cast so that each line of my hand stands out in clear relief against the plaster. Mrs Root always went above and beyond…and she encouraged us to think outside of the box.

My most prized possession however is yellow and black. It is the cut-out of a yellow sneaker and it has my name on it. There are actual laces on the sneaker made from household string and I tied that bow myself. I was so proud!!! When we could tie a bow on our own shoes…the real way, not bunny ears, not in Mrs. Root’s class….she encouraged us and encouraged us until we could do it…she had us tie one on our school sneaker and she posted our sneakers for all to see. Every adult and child who came into the room checked to see who had a new sneaker on the board and found that child to shake hands with him or her. It was a proud, proud tradition.

I’m sure that there were many wonderful lessons in her classroom but I have a crystal clear memory of one particular day. It was circle time and we were all gathered at her feet to talk about the calendar and the weather and to hear a story.

Then, she asked one of the boys in the class to stand up. She asked us to look at him with one eye closed and then “measure” him with our thumb just under his feet and The pad of our forefinger on top of his head. We had to hold our hands in that position and compare them with our circle neighbor. Then she had us close our eyes (with our fingers still in the measured position) and she asked our classmate to go to the farthest corner of the room. On the count of three we were to open our eyes and check our finger measurements again. One, two, three……????????

I still remember the shock of seeing this little tiny person in front of me. How could that be?!! I knew that he wasn’t that small!! How did he get so small?!! The class exploded with questions.

“That,” explained the amazing Mrs. Root “is called Perspective.”


Can you imagine?!! She figured out how to teach that to kindergartners. Our minds blew up.

Every one of us wanted to be “measured” to see if it would happen to us too. She let each one of us be measured. One by one we came back from the other corner of the room, assuring the class, and ourselves, that we hadn’t shrunk and then grown back like Alice in Wonderland….even though in their eyes it appeared so.

I’ve never forgotten it. Still blows my mind.

Thank you Mrs. Root. You were an amazing teacher.

with love,

P.S. If you want a glimpse into what kindergarten was like then, I hope that you can find a copy of the children’s book, “I Like Kindergarten” written by Clara Cassidy and illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. (first published by Golden Book in 1965) It was one of my favorite books then, and still very special to me now.

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When They Blow You Away! Archived Post 4.25.13

(Originally posted 4/25/13)

There is a student sitting in your class who is ready to impress the heck out of you. You don’t suspect a thing. You think that s/he is plodding along at his/her usual pace. Maybe this kid has an Ipod wired to his ear. Maybe s/he doesn’t even bring a folder to class. It’s possible that s/he hasn’t even made eye contact. But it’s that time of year……

And out of no where this student is going to blow your socks off. S/he’ll turn in a piece of writing that is insightful…and legible.S/he’ll be the only one to catch the irony of a situation and nod at you when everyone else is clueless. S/he’ll make a connection to something that was done months ago in class when s/he could barely keep from falling asleep.

I’ve been watching it happen all week and I’ll bet it’s happening where you are too. A student who apologizes for the first time, ever. Someone who stays after class to ask a question that shows depth and perception.The child that wouldn’t open a book can’t put one down.

Really. Keep your eyes open. It’s that time of year. We teach children. They are growing and changing in miniscule amounts each and every moment of the day. When we are so close to them for so many hours we sometimes miss the changes that gradually carve out new insight and responsibility in a young person.

Take a few minutes and drink in all that they have survived, overcome, and struggled to become this year. Resist the urge to compare them to others or to what you think they should be. Open up to the idea that, for whatever reason, they are who and where they are supposed to be in this universe. In your room. As your student. Because they won’t be there, or those students much longer……

with love,

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Flipping the Switch 2 Archived Post 4.22.13

(Originally posted 4/22/13)

The second time I saw the light bulb go on was with my juniors. Let me give you a littlebackground. We teach with TPRS, an approach that focuses heavily on providing large amounts of Comprehensible Input in the target language. From this input comes interaction, verbal and written….but production is the result, not the goal.

It is a leap of faith in many ways to take this approach, but the results have been undeniable! Our program has expanded to include so many more students and students of all academic “ability” levels are able to communicate clearly in the language. As a result of the changes in the program and several changes in staff, we have not had this group in a formal speaking test situation…..ever.

It’s not the first year that this has happened. This year’s seniors had not ever had a formal speaking performance assessment either. BUT, when I gave them the assessment last year, using the NYS Regents Speaking Assessment format, they did a fantastic job. What is the difference? That group had been my students for three straight years….and I administered and scored the assessment.

This year NYS Dep’t of Ed. has issued a series of conflicting statements about who will/can administer these assessments and how they will be graded. (I will not be allowed to.) So this year’s group needs to be confident. I need them to know two things:

1. They already have all of the language and skills that they need in order to do this, and do it well.

2. They need to know the rules of the game so they can get the scores that they deserve.

The challenge was, I thought, that they have never been forced to speak in unnaturally long sentences, which is what a high score requires. Well, apparently that is not a challenge in their minds. I explained that the answer to Where do you live ? could be a one word answer: Rushville.

But that wouldn’t be worth much. The more they could say in addition to that the higher their scores would be. I asked for a volunteer. Where do you live? “I live in the little town of Rushville in the state of New York.” Ka-ching!! “With my family and my dog, so the house is too small.” Another student pipes up before I can ask for another volunteer. “So I want to buy a bigger house” student # 3 “but I prefer one in the country because I like having a lot of space for my animals.” and student #4.

Okaaaayyyyy. I guess they get it. Over the last two days I’ve spoken to each student as part of a greeting at the door, a class activity/game etc. and each one can easily perform the task. I even gave them situations where I knew that they hadn’t had the vocabulary. It really didn’t matter.

They can circumlocute like nobody’s business.

Dang……all those years spending all of that energy to get kids to learn how to “perform” well on a speaking assessment and this group acts as if it is as easy as pie. They think it sounds weird to speak in full sentences when one or two words will do, but they are happy to do it and it is easy for them.One class even thought it was hysterically funny and highly entertaining to try to top each others’ sentences.

Here’s the difference: These kids already had acquired all of the language they needed to speak in longer, more complex, high-scoring (although stilted and unnatural) phrases. All I had to do was model how to use them to get the higher grade. Before TPRS I was teaching phrases AND teaching strategy AND teaching topical vocabulary AND grammatical concepts and it never, ever came together much less click for the long term…even for my most gifted students.

Will they all get high scores on the speaking assessment? Probably not. Some will get nervous, some will overthink it and some will pick those really weird questions that no student can ever do well on. But they CAN do it….I know that and they do too. That knowledge lit up our faces and our

with love,

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Flipping The Switch 1 Archived Post 4.21.13

(Originally posted 4/21/13)

Twice last week I had the chance to see the light bulb go off over (or is that in?!) my students’
heads. I love that.

The first time was with my seniors. A young woman from a nearby college is working in my classroom twice a week with this group. She has worked with them individually and in small groups.

This was the first time that she had led a lesson with the entire class. She had a great PowerPoint for them and was asking them questions to get them engaged in discussion about the slides. They stared at her like deer in the headlights. Who had never heard Spanish before. When she called on them individually, they asked if they could answer her in English because they couldn’t think of the Spanish. What?

I knew that they knew exactly what she was saying and how to answer her. But they wouldn’t. So we hit the pause button and had a little discussion in English about what was going on. What was happening? They were comfortable in front of her individually, or in a very small group, but they were very worried about embarrassing themselves in front of this very lovely young woman AND the rest of the class. They weren’t as worried about that with me because, well, to them I am not a lovely, young woman. :o) And…they knew that I would put a stop to anything that might be said that was negative. If they made a mistake in front of her it would be much more embarrassing and they weren’t sure if she could smooth it over. So they completely shut down.

This was a very important discussion. This group is going on next year to another world. Some will
be in college classes and others will be in the work world….all will be out of my room when they get the opportunity to use the language. It’s time that they understand, and be truly confident in, their own abilities. It was time for them to realize that being embarrassed or worried is going to keep them from too many great things in life.

So we talked about the Affective Filter, what it is and how it works. We talked about how “an object in motions stays in motion and an object at rest stays at rest” (Thank you Uncle Ted for teaching me high school Physics!!) We talked about getting started, mistakes and all, is the only way to get past the fear. Our lovely young college student shared her stories about her feelings when she first arrived for study in Argentina and some of the mistakes that she made.

Then we went back to the lesson……and it was as if someone had opened the floodgates. The conversations began and it was amazing. Light bulbs!! Not just for them, not just for my trainee, but for me as well. It takes very little for the Affective Filter to kick in. The relationships our students have with us and with each other are extremely important. And a little bit of encouragement, honesty, conversation and faith can go a long way.

with love,

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You Are Not Alone ..Students and Tragedy Archived Post 4.15.13

(Originally posted 4/15/13)
Tomorrow will be the second time in the past few months that we will have to get up in the morning and go to school after a tragedy. These are the moments we feel most helpless, and yet, these are the times that we have the most to offer. We need to approach tomorrow with grace and dignity.

Parents all over the country would like to stay home tomorrow with their children…and won’t be able to. We will have the responsibility of facing the day with their children. We must take that responsibility very seriously. We cannot let our own fears, doubts, prejudices….anything negative…invade the space we bring to the classroom. Our students need to know, again, that adults feel and adults grieve, but adults are calm, strong, and caring when children need those things most. That is our job.

It won’t be easy. This tragedy too is personal for many of us. Newtown touched us because it took place in a school…in our home away from home…to children and teachers. It rocked us and it rocked our students. This situation in Boston hits close to home as well. Many of us have gone to college, or have loved ones with college connections, to Boston. Boston is a city full of American history. Many of us visited there or vacationed there with our families. Many of us are also runners. Many teachers run. It keeps them sane. Most of us know at least one person who has run the Marathon. Perhaps you yourself have run it…or have been there to see those runners pass by that exact spot.

What is hardest is that it makes us feel so very vulnerable. Particularly if you spent the evening watching the coverage over and over again. It will be tempting to share our sorrow, our frustration, and more with our students. We must be careful about what we say and how we say

it…whether we are speaking directly to students or to colleagues within earshot of students. Each age group has it’s own vulnerabilities.We must be aware of those even as we deal with our own emotions. Tomorrow, as always, the children come first.

So know that tomorrow, we will all be in this together. We’ll be tired. We’ll be sad. We’ll be worried. We’ll be angry. But we’ll be the only adult in a room full of children….who need us to be a source of calm and strength. So when it’s tough, close your eyes for a moment and call on the strength of a colleague who, that very minute, will be in the same position in another classroom.

You will not be alone.

with love,

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Anticipate Joy!! Archived Post 4.10.13

(Originally posted 4/10/13)

Because it’s coming. Oh yes it is. And sometimes when we least expect it. As TPRS teachers,in our department, direct grammatical instruction is “postponed” until year three or four. By this time students have acquired a good base of language. They only need grammar if they want to be successful in a college program that will, most likely, be grammar-centric.

So, since it was coming up on the last marking period of the senior year, I thought I’d give them their first “grammar-driven” unit. I started with the subjunctive, including formal commands (positive and negative) along with the negative informal commands….and just for fun the nosotros too. Oh…making sure to add in the use and placement of direct, indirect and reflexive pronouns. (no, they don’t know the linguistic terms for those but that didn’t seem to be a problem) We’ll finish the direct study and guided practice tomorrow. They have been doing online independent practice and Friday, when half of them are on a field trip, the rest of us will head off to the computer lab for a little more time.

Where’s the joy? Well……they’re enjoying it for one. All of them, even the ones who are not college-bound or have no desire to take a college-level language course. In fact, those kids may be enjoying it more than their classmates who, after years of indoctrination, worry a little too much about getting everything right. Today I got to spend a good twenty minutes standing in the back of the computer lab watching them cheer and high-five each other when they successfully took on a number of Quia challenges on commands and the subjunctive.

(FYI, the formation and use of the subjunctive is a fairly difficult grammatical concept to teach, and the rules for creating the different kinds of commands are complex. And of course there are a slew of exceptions and irregulars)

Okay, that’s a geeky kind of joy, but it is joy nonetheless. It makes me very, very happy to see good ole farmboys and girls from our school on the hill rocking a grammar quiz.

Then, one of them turned around to me and said, “You know what’s weird Profe? None of the people who designed these games seem to care if we have any idea what these words mean. They only want to know if we put the right letters in the right places. How weird is that? Makes no sense.

Luckily we already know what they mean.”

Dance. of. joy. :o)

Lesson learned. Anticipate joy. You never know when it will show up.

with love,


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Accepting Things Archived Post 4.9.13

(Originally posted 4/9/13)

Spring has arrived (we hope!) despite our doubts. This month I’m going to try to think about the things that I need to accept. Not approve of. Not necessarily like. Not support. Not endorse. Not encourage….although maybe those things as well. But accept.

The things that, in order to function with some semblance of sanity, I need to accept. Fighting their existence is one thing; denying them is another. Acceptance means growing up when I want to have a temper tantrum. Acceptance means that I can analyze, adjust and even reject if I want to…but first, I have to accept that they exist.

First on my list? Probably the hardest one; I don’t have time to do all of the things that I would like to, or feel called to do. If I work on accepting this, instead of denying it, perhaps I’ll actually budget my time a little bit better, create a few more boundaries, and appreciate the time that I do have in my day enough to honor it.

So there it is: I don’t have enough time to do everything on my to do/want to do list. And THAT’S OKAY.

(yes, if I’m writing in caps I need to tell myself that a few more times) :o)

with love,

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.