Back from Atlanta

Tina is back in her classroom in Portland today after a pretty intense but very rewarding experience in Atlanta with 146 teachers of the North Atlanta Cluster of the Atlanta Public Schools. We had been invited there by their WL Coordinator, Dr. Margaret McKenzie, for a two day training. The energy there is, has always been, amazing.

As Tina and I were getting ready to board our flights home at dinner time last night in the Atlanta airport, I told her that I felt like I had too much too say, that I couldn’t get it all said. (When you do trainings, many lightbulbs go off, and I am sure that the other teachers in our PLC who train people in comprehensible input methods would agree with that statement.)

Anyway, Tina the Wise – she is wise – said, “Ben you need to start making videos so you don’t have to take so much time writing. This was good advice because many here on the PLC know that I pretty much write my ass off all day and have been doing so for ten years.

Anyway so that is what I am going to do. I want to keep writing and publishing lots of articles here, of course, so that we can continue to enjoy at least one place on the internet where we can go narrow and deep with the CI discussion to help each other process questions and problems that arise in our classroom on a daily basis and thereby keep our mental health going to the best extent possible in what is now clearly a burnout profession.

But look for some video links popping up here now, hopefully every day, of musings that are just easier to get on video than my having to sit and compose my thoughts into an article every day. We can call them “Ben’s Morning Musings” or something. I am going to record the first one right now and upload it to my YouTube channel and share the link here later today.

It’s on how issues of race intertwine with world language education in the Atlanta Public Schools.

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23 thoughts on “Back from Atlanta”

  1. Sounds like a good idea! Though I could never get into Tea with BVP because I would much rather read than watch a video or listen to an audio. Reading is just so much quicker!

    btw, I’m posting a lot these days because my school has a Fall Break. Yes, you heard me right. We have a one week break in October! Yes, our kids started on August 14, but this Fall Break is, I think, the answer to the October Collapse.

    1. I’m with you Sean. I rarely watch videos and if they’re longer than 5 minutes, forget it. But I appreciate that it takes longer to write than record.

      1. So Dana and Sean the irony is clear – it takes too long to write but on the other hand people can only hang with vids of 5 min. or less, which I can respect. But what is happening now can’t be conveyed in writing. We all need to meet at the geographical center of the U.S. in Oklahoma in a big circle and sing about this, but then that’s already being done by the real experts right on that land right now already so there ya go. I got nothin’ here. Maybe it’s time to punt. Maybe the book cartels won.

        1. although I love to read, I’m fine with videos, too. I watched qite of few with you, Ben, when I fell in love with the CI-approach, and lately some by Tina. For me a video also helps to figure you as persons and that’s nice bc I have the huge disadvantage of not being able to attend a workshop in the USA.
          In other words a video conveys your energy and enthusiasm which I find highly motivating. And believe me this kind of motivation is one of the real life savers for me as a teacher.

        2. No way. I think that short snippets like you do here are great. For training, the videos would have to be longer. There is no way to do that in short videos. That said, maybe do them in sections so people can stop at a natural spot when they have to.

          I just know that I’m not a video person. I get distracted and feel like I’m doing nothing so I start doing other things, and then I lose focus. I know this is my issue. Most people, particularly younger people, are all about videos and watching rather than reading about them. I know I’m in the minority here, and I would never want you to cater to the minority. I think you need to go for the biggest audience, which is definitely watching videos.

          1. All I can think of doing is short snippets of information on the Invisibles from the beginning of the Natural Approach book to the end. There is so much misinformation on the Invisibles and OWI out there right now. People are even presenting on them. One person presented on them at NTPRS without any training from Tina or me. One well known presenter recently went to Atlanta before Tina and I to present on the Big CI Book but hadn’t read it. So I really have to figure out a way to put this information onto video as soon as I can.

  2. Love that term the October Collapse, Sean. We started using that term a long time ago. It is so REAL. So many of us have felt its wrath. But we can beat it, esp. now that we have been able to pick out – in the past year or so after so much searching for the key to this CI stuff – the real mole in the Whack a Mole CI game – Classroom Management.

  3. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    What exactly is the October Collapse?
    Is it created by the teacher’s false sense that the kids are acclimated, so she starts grooving into a pace and expectation that are still unrealistic this early in the year?

    Or is it, like the amnesia after giving birth, that we expect adherence to our norms, like they were at the end of last year,after A YEAR’S WORTH OF CONSTANT HAMMERING, when really those 4th grade boys are justing getting rolling with their envelope pushing?

    OR is it the T’s false sense of security that the kids can not only comprehend oral messages, but overlay the oral onto the written, and read with comprehension, when really they aren’t fully cranked up to capacity yet?
    Or is October Collapse something different?

    1. It’s more simple Alisa. It’s when the teacher who has not focused on building trust and community in the first weeks of the year gets their comeuppance after ten weeks when the will of good will from the first weeks of school that kids always muster up to start the year, when that well dries up. The latest post on it (it is really ten years old, was last reposted here in 2015) so I just updated it here.

    2. It’s like the phrase used by all kinds of teachers and adults in the building come October, “The honeymoon is over.” While building trust, acclimating kids to our expectations, and all that is definitely part of it, I think there’s also this thing that happens with even those best of teachers that build trust and acclimate students. It’s this thing where students have gotten to know you well enough now, and feel comfortable with you enough now that they start feeling out the limits of that relationship. You though you were about to shift into cruz control. Sorry! There are times you still gotta kick it in high gear.

    3. Let’s give ourselves a break in OCT — the long month with no breaks. Instead of the OCT collapse it can be an october opportunity. I am giving my students Mike Peto’s comic template to fill out and copy and draw a story of their choice for later use in FVR.

  4. But Bryan what if they go more than 5 minutes? Dana says people don’t watch them past five minutes and ironically Tina in that same conversation in Atlanta last night told me the same thing. She told me that people have asked her to limit some of her vids to 5 minutes or less. But how to convey, for example, the entire Invisibles program – which I plan on putting here on video in the next two months for PLC members only – if I have to make each chapter of that training program 5 minutes long?

    1. No you don’t, Ben!!!
      I’m sure even those of us who allegedley watch only for five minutes will gladly muster the energy to watch longer videos – maybe 5 min. a day which would still make for a long video in two weeks time of watching – just joking. I for one will watch long videos. Don’t we all watch good movies even if they last over two hours.
      So please, get cracking!!!

    2. It is definitely easier in chunks, though I think videos that don’t go over 10 minutes should be doable for most, with a longer one from time to time. Small chunks that can fit into our busy schedules is much easier. When I see hour long videos I rarely am able to finish them unless I’m totally engrossed in it.

      1. Bryan will you be on a review board with Sean on the new Invisibles videos that we will keep our secret here in the group? Anyone else can be on it. I just need feedback bc if I am going to drag myself in front of a camera every morning to make a ten min. video on the Invisibles it better get some quality feedback from people like you who know what works and what doesn’t work.

  5. Ben, don’t forget about the text-over feature on videos. With text-over, you can shorten the video to just a demo, keeping the commentary on text-over.

    1. Yes that is what I did on my DVD set on TPRS years ago. It was effective. I’ll start making the Invisibles videos asap, publish them as short vids here, and you can start giving me feedback on how to proceed. We’ll do a little at a time and you can do quality control. Only people on the PLC will get access to them. The problem is that most of the video we got in the summer workshops kind of sucked in sound quality, hard to follow.

      1. Ben, your old videos with commentaries of REAL classes helped me get into that mindset and framework for CI. It kept my focus on the communication between myself and the students. So at every instance we are aware of what is going on in the room… it’s dynamics, how students are feeling and which students need to be supported and lifted up that day. I do enjoy those VOICE-OVER ones.

  6. What if you identified some really good illustrations of key points within Tina’s CI Liftoff videos and captioned them – snippets are already out there – just trim and add words? It’s so much more natural within a classroom context…
    Just a thought – then they’d be catalogued and even more searchable/useful!

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