Colleagues who are full of pride about their ability to teach in a way that we know is outdated, from another time, which favors the few, can be dangerous to us. They can even threaten us. Of course, such posturing and judging is always done out of sheer ignorance. If these relics from the past really put their minds to understanding how people actually acquire languages vs. what they think in their petty little grammar and output based worlds, they would shift quickly away from what they are currently doing, and hang their heads a bit in embarrassment while doing it.
This email is from a group member. It dramatizes my point above:
A colleague at the high school who has expressed to me his concern about what I am doing in the middle school recently said to me: “I was willing to give you a year before I started telling you what I would like to see.” You have a responsibility to send to us at the high school kids who can succeed in second year language.”
I told him that my responsibility is to my students and to our professional organization and that the students are already exceeding district expectation on the ACTFL standards (Novice High by the end of grade eight).
I told him that we obviously have a very different understanding of the standards and what they expect in terms of output accuracy and volume after one year of class. (NH is LISTING.) I read aloud to him some of my kids’ free writes from Monday morning. He had not too much to say about them.
He said, “I think we need to sit down with our administrators since you are totally unwilling to focus on writing and speaking.”
I told him that I would never counsel that any member-to-member conflict go to admin but through the union, if it comes to the need for mediation. I told him that writing and speaking are part of my program, in their proper place.
He said, “We have a limited amount of time to get them ready for the IB test and if we do not expect writing accuracy in the first years they will have nothing to build on.”
I told him that language acquisition is not a stepwise process, that it is exponential and takes off after months and months of input, after about March of year two.
At the end, he said it is unfortunate that I will not bend to his needs.
I told him that he can give up expecting me to change my program but that he will get students who are going to blow his mind and who love the language.