Crunch Time Again – Immediate Help Needed

We did well with our quick responses to Keri’s question a few weeks ago. Now we only have, really, one day to help Steven Ordiano in Fresno with the following:

Hi Ben,

I would like to request feedback from the PLC with the following situation by Friday at noon, if possible.

My instructional coach has not listened to my professional reasoning via emails or in person.  So he and I will meet for our last month of the school year to discuss the following question:

At the end of the year of French 1 what do students need to know?

He asked me to make a list then we will “compartmentalize” the school year into 4 quarters then backwards plan and use assessments.  The objectives will also need to be included.  The caveat is: they need to be concrete skills, tasks or language structures.  I would like feedback from any of the PLC members who may dealt with this situation.

This coach is not my evaluating administrator but I wonder if he is doing my own administrator’s dirty work.  Also, “un secreto” – my district does not have a scope and sequence for World Languages but he is going to force this dogma on me.  Such a snarky turn of events.

Your friend,

Steven

 

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36 thoughts on “Crunch Time Again – Immediate Help Needed”

  1. My feeling here is that the administrator does not have the capacity nor even cares to hear the theoretical points Steven could capably make in their conversation on Friday, many of which are up in the Primers section on the hard links above. This person is there to enforce the law and report Steven if he breaks it.

    Therefore, what we really need here is any member of the PLC who already has done this, someone who has put the time into making a Scope and Sequence doc that still allows them to do CI in the classroom. I know. It’s a tall order. But maybe someone has something official looking that they could send to Steve immediately at:

    steve.ordiano@gmail.com

    This could get ugly. Those who have been reading here over all the years know that we have had this exact same situation come up more than once, and the emotions – mainly, anger and frustration – that rear their heads when this type of thing happens to one of us. The difficulty is that it is hard to find conversations that have scrolled into the past here. Maybe a search of such terms as Scope and Sequence and Objectives or any others we can think of might help.

    Here’s wishing that we get something. If Steven were to walk into that meeting with nothing more than the fact that HE IS RIGHT, it wouldn’t be good. The way we silence these idiots is by giving them what they want and sending them off to sniff out other breaches of what they consider good teaching in the building.

    There is also the category on the right side of this page called Administrator/Teacher/Parent Re-education, but again those take us into ideas that this bozo may not want to listen to. Also Steven you might search the word “idiots” here. I remember calling such people by that term more than a few times on this blog, with not the least bit of regret.

    1. I never engage in these conversations because I’m fortunate enough to work mostly with students who have failed to “learn” English with these methods, so they are delighted to realize that they can acquire it with me and ask no questions. but I did have the thought, why not begin with a list of high frequency things that you are certain your students will know by June, the 16 super verbs, etc.? Because our kids actually do know a lot by June. If Scott Benedict has already done a curriculum, sounds like a good place to start.

  2. Now, I don’t really use this (other than I like using his readings and homework from time to time), but I have found Scott Benedict’s Immediate Immersion curriculum to be quite useful for this sort of thing because it’s very structured and is based on high frequency vocabulary, which come up naturally anyway. He does target the top 100 high frequency vocabulary words the first year, the next 100 the second year, etc… He also has assessments with simple rubrics and all of the laid out.

    Here is a list of targets for the French 1 curriculum that come from that (that I put together):

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8iMgKGzPTxaMFY3NnBpOUJFWjA

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B8iMgKGzPTxaTG95SC1YYlFvM0k

    Personally, I prefer the non-targeted approach, but this is so well organized (with assessments, homework, etc.), that if I were you I would show this to the administrator, encourage them to purchase the curriculum, and use the parts that you want to. I suppose it all depends on how much they’re really going to be looking over your shoulder… Unless they’re making time for you or paying you extra is it really your job to be creating a curriculum if it’s not being provided to you by the school/district? Curriculum development is very time-consuming, and a job in and of itself.

  3. Steven, I don’t know if this will work for you, but I use a story out of LICT or LICTM at the end of every quarter, and have kids do a comprehension questions. I make sure I do enough stories/readings that it is extremely easy for the kids to read and answer the questions in English. It keeps my admin happy and it makes me seem like I’m not totally just making this stuff up as I go.

    https://www.amazon.com/Look-Student-Workbook-Spanish-English/dp/1560184744

    https://www.amazon.com/Sistema-Communication-Cuentos-Student-Workbook/dp/1560184906

    1. Thanks david. However, my coach wants daily objectives that are concrete and structured. He is coming from a Social Science and district perspective. He continues to push despite that the California Frame word for World Languages mentions nothing of targets. The standards mentions comunication, structures, setting and content. It is so open, that it is up to departments and teachers to make curriculum and assessment decisions not admin.

  4. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    We kinda sorta had to do it but it’s not at all enforced. So we are supposed to give cornerstone assessments 2-3 times a yr to insure a consistent experience across the 3 elem schools, and for the state law that ties student progress to teacher eval (this is the first year of it – what a crock of SH$%T.
    You can read or write a TL story and then have them answer T/F or other Qs about the story in English to demonstrate comprehension. The next round you insert more verbs, recycle the old ones in your new longer story, demonstrating the expansion of their linguistic foundation.
    So sorry – since you don’t believe in it try not to spend too much time thinking/worrying creating it. Find out EXACTLY what qualifies to keep your coach (whatever) happy and serve it up w/a smile.

    1. ” the state law that ties student progress to teacher eval”… That’s horrible. Our district is trying to do this in their proposals.

      I agree about what “exactly qualifies” however I want to push and see if there can be some wiggle room because I want to keep this documentation in case an admin or a parent show up and attack me in the future.

  5. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    Can you show him what the experts have written on how Language isn’t conceptual or causal like the other disciplines?
    If I ever consider going to admin (unlikely;}, slap me.

  6. Maybe also include how as the year goes on students should be able to attend to longer listening sessions. So, from beginning of the year CWB to OWIs to Invisibles to SL. And that students should be able to read, write, and speak (of course, speak only if you have to make them for admin) with 1) greater length [word count], 2) greater range of vocabulary, 3) more accuracy and variation of grammar [present to past to future to subjunctive… or whatever sequence of verb tense you may feel your admin would like to see], 4) with more complex sentences, and 5) greater degree of organization (again, just for admin).

    Perhaps you should try to focus the discussion on output outcomes since those are easier to grasp by admin, instead of our hippie-sounding input assessment measures.

    1. Perhaps you should try to focus the discussion on output outcomes since those are easier to grasp by admin, instead of our hippie-sounding input assessment measures.

      That’s probably not a bad idea. Just put up an objective that has output like writing and move on.

      Today as practice, I had French 1 highlight the words “children”, “cage” and “there was” in an SL text of Hansel and Gretel. The objective was to “identify” the three structures in a text by highlighting.

  7. Sorry I’m getting in on this late, but maybe you could just be a little “dumb”.

    Tell your admin that you need some help formulating what he wants, so could he write some examples that align with the California Standards and Framework for World Languages so you can follow them? (Be sure to have copies of both documents with you for reference.)

    If he dashes something off, then hand him the Standards and Framework documents and have him show you where and how what he wrote aligns with those two documents.

    You might even have some SLA research (Krashen, BVP) handy for him to look at as well.

    Should he at any point say, “You’re the content expert”, then you say, “Thank you for acknowledging that. I use high-leverage teaching practices that are situated in theory and research. They are specific to language education and endorsed by the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages. Differentiation means not only meeting individual students where they are, which I do; it also means recognizing that content areas must be approached using high-leverage teaching practices designed for that content area and understanding that the practice of teaching cannot be reduced to a list of easily replicated behaviors but is principled and purposeful.”

    The source for that last sentence is “Enacting the Work of Language Instruction; High-Leverage Teaching Practices”. Eileen W. Glisan and Richard Donato. Alexandria, VA: ACTFL, 2017.

    My point is, your administrator is presenting himself as the expert on teaching practices and asking you to conform to them. If he cannot articulate and demonstrate the application of those principles within the constraints of your content area, then either 1) he isn’t an expert on these principles in all content areas or 2) they don’t apply to that content area. In either case, forcing them upon a content area irrespective of the strictures of that content area and its needs does violence to any sort of principled and purposeful method of instruction.

    BTW, one of the practices that has often caused my hackles to rise over the years is when an administrator or other “expert” comes in with some “wonderful new” strategy or practice and gives a couple of examples in his or her content area, another example from each of the “core four” areas, and tells everyone else that they are the content-area experts, so just make the adjustments to their area for this to work fine and dandy. It’s a cop-out that shows the presenter has not worked out how this strategy or practice applies in all content areas and merely assumes that it is applicable. Not every strategy is appropriate for every content area.

    Okay, done with the rant.

    1. …if he dashes something off, then hand him the Standards and Framework documents and have him show you where and how what he wrote aligns with those two documents….

      Love this. Never thought of it. Of course they don’t align. May get him thinking or might piss him off.

    2. That was the world’s best advice. There is nothing to add. I highly suggest following Robert’s advice. It is excellent. Robert, this should be engraved onto a golden plaque and installed in every teacher’s lounge in America.

  8. Have you checked out Dr. Bill VanPatten’s ways of organizing the curriculum according to tasks? You basically just work backward from a novel or story you are using and have it culminate in a short task.

    For example, I talked to Bill asking him more about this and how it might work in the TPRS/CI classroom and he said that for example in Brandon Brown Quiere un Perro you could work backwards and say something to the effect of “students will be able to tell about one thing they need, one thing they want, and another thing that they both need and want.” Basically you just have the students do this task as motivation as the end of a week goal that the input activities had lead up to.

    BVP doesn’t grade these but he rates students on a scale to see how well they did it, but
    you could make it a grade if you had to though, you’d just have to set up tasks that you know students can do.

    Here’s his article on that: http://clear.msu.edu/files/5714/4467/5941/CLEAR_Fall_15_Final.pdf

    What about using something like Bryce Hedstrom’s Persona Especial? That has a lot of stuff you could “work backwards from” and stuff that is common year one and two “vocab”. Also, I had a student take the AAPPL exam this year and he said to me “Señor, the questions were all like persona especial!”

    1. Just to be clear on two points and I’m not trying to be snarky and so what if I am:

      First, BVP suggested that after reading a novel students will be able to use the TL to express wants and needs.

      My objection is that not all students can do that. Not too many can, in fact. It is because output comes much later than we think. He knows that, so why would he suggest such a thing? Obviously, I am not worthy to challenge BVP, but when he suggests taking such a low level reader and having it lead to verbal output is not consistent with what I understand the research to be, which is that in the first two levels of instructions students can read, yes, and quite easily after all the input they’ve received in a properly run CI classroom, but since when does the research indicate that they can speak enough to describe tasks. Many kids in CI classroom can’t say shit even by the end of the second year. So those fast processors who can read the book well and then jump to verbal output, those five to seven kids in each class who can do that, shine a weird light on the other ones who then feel that they can’t do it (unless they memorize it and that is not what we are about) and so now we have through BVP’s suggestion more of the same, to wit that the few get to win and the rest get to flounder. What the hell? Can we not design assessment that does not end up being a judgement on over half the kids in the room?

      My second comment is that I probably need to talk to Bryce about this, because he must be doing something with the Special Person that is different from the source of that activity, The Special Chair, which was invented by Jody Noble over fifteen years ago. I will work on that. I will try to clarify whose idea it is.

    2. …BVP doesn’t grade these but he rates students on a scale to see how well they did it, but
      you could make it a grade if you had to though, you’d just have to set up tasks that you know students can do….

      I intensely dislike the term “you could make it a grade”. What if I don’t want to and what if my students don’t want me to? What if we just want to have fun and hang out in the language? Oops, not allowed in schools. Need grades. I am of the belief that my students would rather be graded in alignment with the way they are being taught, which is via input, so that they would be graded in terms of what they understand and not on what they can produce, if they must be graded at all. I prefer lying to the gradebook, so that I don’t have to shred the confidence of many of my students, who cannot do the output because the research shows that they can’t, except, as usual, the few who get to run things. So much for equity, so much for kids who attended broken schools, so much for their hope. They can’t do the task, they can’t do, can’t do, can’t do. They can’t do the task, so they are losers. Grade them. Oh just say it: Judge them. That’s it. Judge them. And fire the teacher. Take a master teacher only in his second year of teaching like Steve Ordiano and grill him because that’s what the system does. They should be bowing in respect to what Steve is doing, not grilling him. By the way, great responses for him and he doesn’t need them until tomorrow, so thanks to the group for that.

      Related: https://benslavic.com/blog/this-is-your-gradebook-speaking/

      1. Ben you wrote, “I intensely dislike the term “you could make it a grade”. What if I don’t want to and what if my students don’t want me to? What if we just want to have fun and hang out in the language? Oops, not allowed in schools.”

        While my coach did not mention grading he did mention hold students accountable so that “they are not just sitting back and not doing sh%t.” Even now as I experiment, I feel so false behind an objective that only favors the memorizers. Though many they may be, i have gifted students of poverty who need to relax and have their affective filters low.

        As for task, students feel that language acquisition is unattainable because they are being judged by what they can’t do. The measure is always out of reach.

        1. …he did mention hold students accountable so that “they are not just sitting back and not doing sh%t….

          This is an ignorant man.

          This meeting is today, right? Let us know.

          1. I find it ironic Steven that the very thing this guy is worried about, students sitting around not doing sh%t, is what you are fighting as well. They have brought those bored attitudes with them from so many other classes that it is the only behavior they know, so the challenge now is to light a fire under the kids to shut these admins up. You only saw, in SF last year, the vision Tina and I had for the Invisibles and OWI at that time and that was a long time ago. Much has happened with the Invisibles in terms of clarity and explication. I feel like this next year is going to be a year of lighting fires in our classrooms to make them joyous and fun, and I think that nontargeted instruction will provide the match. Don’t forget to give us the report.

  9. Yeah, I hear you, Ben. Just to clarify- BVP is against grades in the WL classroom and he doesn’t grade the tasks. Also, I basically cornered him after a conference and asked him about tasks and TPRS and told him I was reading that novel with my class. I don’t know if he had more time to think off the cuff if his answer would be different. He does explain though that there are also interpretive tasks and that in the early levels we should not be doing the ACTFL “IPAs” that are output.

    It’s also my understanding that the task I listed above is not really output. If we have been circling with necesito/quiero for like 1 week of instruction and in the tasks the student basically said the equivalent of “Necesito un trabajo, quiero un iphone.” This is not really output because students are not creating the meaning totally from scratch. Also the words would be on the wall. It’s kind of similar to the timed writes- it has affective/motivational value.

    Also according to BVP’s model of tasks (fully communicative because you do something with the info), activities (interpretation of meaning is there but no follow up with the info), or exercises (not communicative at all because they are language practice- he says exercises should NEVER be done), the creation of the “One Word Image” is a communicative activity of the HIGHEST DEGREE since you are using the L2 with the students to create something. Seeing a class’s OWI is communicative in the psycho-social sense since you can tell a lot about the personality of the class through what they created. It could also be informational cognitive if the OWI ended up incorporating details that had to do with specific students.

    I’m in the unique situation where I am the department chair and my admin is on board with CI, but most of the teachers I supervise are not (Out 12 teachers there are only 3 of us). I’m tasked with developing my own CI and encouraging others to get on board, while in the mean time keeping peace, and creating a consistent curriculum (the school needs curriculum documents for when we are audited by the accrediting agency). I’m lucky to live in an area where there are some other CI teachers I can collab with (some of the superstars in this PLC!), but I must say that this has been one of the roughest years of my life. When you go against the system it REALLY tries to beat you down, I mean REALLY. I can definitely see how some teachers retreat and go back the textbook.

    The admin GETS IT with the grades thing. I eventually want grades to be replaced by an ACTFL proficiency level just printed on the transcript. I was told by admin that we might not be able to do that, although they think it’s a good idea.

    However, I teach in a private school in a rich area. Admin is in the same boat I am. Parents and students are very freaked out about grades and college and have expectations. There are kids that take the ACT exam three times just to get the highest score. This year, even though I’ve done “pop-up theory” as Krashen advocates, I’ve had students in one class complain that I didn’t have enough grades in the gradebook and that “we haven’t done anything all year” (What he meant was we didn’t do any grammar lessons like he did last year. I explained how languages are acquired to him privately in a way that a kid would understand. He persisted in going around saying that we “do nothing” in my class. I had another student complain that in the 3 Honors course (I teach 3 regular) they are learning subjunctive uses but in my class we are not and they were afraid that I was “not preparing them” for Spanish 4.

    This kind of thing is SUPER DANGEROUS for me. In the community I teach in, where parents pay a lot for tuition, a perception that we are “not doing anything” in a class could lose me my job.)

    Regarding Persona Especial… This is what I am talking about:
    http://www.brycehedstrom.com/wp-content/uploads/LA-PERSONA-ESPECIAL-CLASSROOM-POSTER-Other-Questions.pdf

    What I am saying that is if you do that interview, the emergent language that comes from that basically corresponds to a Level 1 curriculum. Why not just put that on the curriculum documents?

  10. Greg, i see BVP’s view. I’ve heard highlights of his episodes on Lance’s website. I am aware of what output is and isn’t which is why objectives with targets or tasks are backwards and undermine the natural SLA process because they encourage language behavior and not genuine communication.

    You wrote, “When you go against the system it REALLY tries to beat you down, I mean REALLY.” That is what systems are meant to do but systems also break down when enough of its parts are not doing what they are meant to do. In the social context, the system must change its purpose and be flexible or it will simply not work given our situation with world languages and SLA.

    I remember seeing a graffiti on the walls of Bordeaux in 2005. “Le système d’éducation c’est l’éducation du système.” The system of education is the education of the system.

  11. I am so relieved to see this sentence:

    “Many kids in CI classroom can’t say shit even by the end of the second year. ”

    I know this intellectually. I know the research and all, and keep telling my students not to worry about producing language. There is another layer to output that I feel in my community and that is nobody is really interested in speaking Spanish. I can tell this because nobody does. Even those who “can” won’t. Social unsafety and not wanting to appear “odd.”

    But going by what folks post daily of their incredible classroom successes like timed writes and such. I. Fail. By. A. Lot. It makes me nervous and I feel like I am doing something wrong because most of my students cannot produce the voluminous free writes I see daily on FB. A few can, but that does not make me feel better. It makes me feel like I am perpetuating the usual celebration of the 4% student who would “do well” regardless of method. I don’t even really do timed writes. Maybe one or two per semester. Blaine Ray says that in week 1 of Spanish 1 kids should be able to write 70-80 words in 5 mins. Not my kids. Maybe they would feel more confident if I did them regularly?

    I agree wholeheartedly with Robert’s strategy on this, Steven, and plan to use this also, although I will have to research more fully what my state standards are. Last time I checked there was some wording that said “write in textbook chapters” so I disregarded it.

    Maybe you could reference the ACTFL scale that Tina uses (it’s on teachers pay teachers)…it breaks that all down and includes listening and reading, not just speaking and writing.

    It is called “ACTFL Proficiency Flow Chart” $4 on TPT

    1. Thank you again (and again and again over many years) for your candor, jen. The fact is that almost all of us except for a few people I have worked with, a certain script writer in Maine and you, tend to embellish what we accomplish.

      No blame. It is human nature to want to be “good” at our jobs. Thirty years ago I used to make my self sick prepping kids for the National French Exam and the AP exam. It was because I needed love.

      The fact remains that most of our students are not getting much. Like you say, they don’t care that much.

      Someday they will care. It will be when education no longer has its big long grey claw, Damocles style, over them, ready to pith them open with another test. In the meantime we spend so much time thinking about what gains we are getting.

      I wonder what happens in the invisible world when kids take tests. It can’t be good. It feels like a violation. We violate kids in schools.

      Some day we will understand that it is not about gains, but love. May God in His infinite mercy bless all our hearts, now in April and all through the year, for only He knows how much teachers suffer.

    2. Jen you’re not alone. If we look hard enough and honestly enough, in our classes there are like 1 or 2 who do speak in class. I have so many chipper students but only a few if any are truly happy. There is so much fakery and they are truly hurting inside. The healthiest, warmest students who have awesome mom and dads are the ones who response with whole class statements or comp checks. Hell, i dont even use whole class questions and responses anymore after like december break. Maybe im too lazy or need more training from a disciplined TPRS trainer. Haha. I just enjoy those rare moments for example when during SL i say that when Gretel went out of her cage, Gretel says “cage me outside” when she pushes the evil witch into a boiling cauldron of soup.

  12. I subscribe to a blog from http://www.HonorShame.com. It’s about dealing with people from and operating in honor-shame cultures. Diane is also familiar with this website.
    ,
    Basically, there are three paradigms for relating to the world, and while each culture or society uses all three paradigms, each tends to have a dominant paradigm: Guilt-Innocence, Honor-Shame, or Power-Fear. The dominant paradigm in Western culture has been Guilt-Innocence. We frame responsibility and misdeeds in terms of being guilty of a trespass against the law and needing to restore innocence through atonement, or we maintain our own innocence by seeking Justice from the guilty party. (And yes, those are often theological terms as well.)

    There has, in recent years, been an upswing in the US of the Honor-Shame paradigm. Much of the Internet is, quite frankly, about maintaining one’s own honor by shaming others.

    Since, however, we are multi-dimensional people, we operate with all three of these paradigms, and we need to acknowledge how they affect our interactions.

    Here’s an example:

    On Tuesday, I had adjunct duty and supervised a home swim meet. Since there were lots of parents around, I didn’t have a lot that I needed to do, so I took the opportunity to wander around the pool deck and interact with students, especially the ones in my classes.

    At one point, I stopped by a group of guys who were sitting around waiting for their heats and spoke to them. Since not all were in German, I spoke English. However, one of my students greeted me in German. His friend said that he wished he had taken German. My student made a comment in German, and I helped him show off his German ability for his friend. This is, mind you, a student in German 1.

    In a Guilt-Innocence context, not much happened. In an Honor-Shame context, however, a great deal was going on. I showed my student honor by talking to him and helping him display his “education” in a way that raised his esteem in the eyes of his friends. To add to that, the next day in class we talked about this incident (in German), and I also mentioned something that happened in one of his races and showed that I was noticing him. This added to the honor that I was bestowing upon him from my position as a “superior”.

    I’m sure my student never thought of it in this way, but by doing what I had done, I created a debt of honor that needed to be repaid. For the rest of this week that student has been more engaged and participative than before. He is honoring me by giving me his attention and focus – the things I ask for in class.

    While I can’t say this is a “turnaround” or anything like that because he has been a good kid all year long, I could see a difference in his behavior toward me after our encounter.

    My point is, this is a much better way to “manage” classes than trying to make our students feel guilty about their behavior. The “Special Student” or “Star of the Day” is another way of honoring students. As we create more situations in which we honor the people in our classes, the more we create a situation in which they return that honor to us. Maybe we should create a list of “honoring activities” for language (or all) classes.

    What a contrast with Steven’s administrator, who thinks we have to “hold them accountable” through an application of “the rules” or the creation of fear.

    We need to honor our students, and they will learn how to honor us.

    1. This is entirely unrelated to Stephen’s situation (which I sympathize with) but follows on Robert’s comments.

      The differences in cultures are fascinating to me. Robert posted about that website on Facebook recently. I feel like I’ve said it somewhere already… earlier this year, I had come across The Culture Test: http://honorshame.com/theculturetest/ (same website as you see).

      I had my small AP class take the survey as well as myself, and then we talked about it in Chinese. It was very interesting. I came up more honor/shame culturally than my students, even than my heritage Chinese speaker whose parents are both Chinese. The three more Anglo students were all clearly in the guilt/justice cultural group. We had a nice time talking about it; it’s a very trusting, small group of students who accept one another.

  13. Update:

    Well the jig is up. My instructional coach was so upset that the district did not have clear benchmarks or a scope and sequence on foreign language and only had a link to the CA world language standards. It’s like someone put salt in his coffee instead of sugar and told him to drink it up. I explained to him why but the dude did not show me respect by listening. He just wanted to see a homogeneous scope and sequence that tied to the standards and state what exactly teachers need to teach. Well guy, language is not content area like history, math or science. I even mentioned DPS’s HF list but once i saw that he did not want to listen stopped. He then proposed that we tie the list of tasks and skills that i wrote to the state standards. When we met, i told him that preferred to work on my Heritage Spanish Speaker class because i could be more specific as students have already acquired the language.

    In May we will met to create units designed to meet these tasks and then create daily objectives and essential questions and finally assess students with benchmarks. Very cookie cutter. Really? No other teacher does this in my district. Why is this guy wasting time when he isnt my admin? Well, at least I will use the opportunity to create a planned curriculum for the year. He will be gone when the year is over as he will coach other 1st and 2nd year teachers. I will then have a cleared credential. I will have minimal assessments and focus on my bigger goals of creating an fvr library like Mike Peto. Well maybe ill learn to be a little more organized to focus on spending time with my family and playing my guitar.

    1. Steven, it looks to me like you have made the best of a bad situation. Congratulations and best wishes.

      If I may, I’ll make some random observations about this.

      1. You wrote My instructional coach was so upset that the district did not have clear benchmarks or a scope and sequence on foreign language and only had a link to the CA world language standards. He didn’t know this going in? He’s an “instructional coach” and didn’t know your district’s policy on foreign language? He did not exercise due diligence in preparing to train, support and assist you. (I am thinking this is a non-district employee who is your “coach” for BTSA, right?) No comment on the reasons why (since that kind of speculation is generally wrong), just an observation that he was not doing his job.

      2. The situation you describe is fairly common in most districts. They concentrate on the “Core Four” (Math, English, Science, Social Science) and neglect the others, except when it serves their purposes. I nearly wrote that they provide “benign neglect”, but I think it isn’t benign, even though I profit from it greatly. In my district, Spanish and Vietnamese are in the crosshairs because of our demographics. As the sole full-time German teacher in my district, and the reason we have a part-time German teacher at my school, I am generally left alone. (The fact that parents are happy, students are happy, and students actually use German outside the classroom helps.) When I see what my Spanish-teaching colleagues endure, I am pleased with being left alone.

      3. While this may seem like a waste of time, you can benefit from it. Aligning the activities to the California State Standards will familiarize you with them. Then, when other teachers and administrators refer to the standards, you can talk intelligently about what is there. Most people who read the California Standards come away pretty confused. I have met one of the key authors of the document, and he is a nice guy but his thinking and writing are best described as Byzantine. (Incidentally, there is rumor that the California State Standards will be revised, and there should be a new Framework coming out – but I will probably be retired before that happens.) Spending time with the standards can make you the expert in your district, and it will give you the confidence to know that TCI/TPRS and your own classroom practices align with the standards. That is big.

      4. The materials available for Heritage Speakers are all over the place as far as quality is concerned. My district is doing a consult for Spanish (both Heritage and non-Heritage) in preparation for adopting a new textbook), and my colleagues tell me that none of the Heritage teachers find any of the textbooks acceptable. She asked me what they should do, and I said they should tell the district that none of the textbooks are acceptable and why, then recommend against adopting them. French will probably be the next language on the chopping block (jk), and I do not expect them to get to German before I retire, which is just as well because my recommendation has been and remains going with a reader-based curriculum.

      5. If your “instructional coach” will be gone at the end of the year, then you have turned this into an exercise in planning and won’t have to worry about implementation. You said that you aren’t meeting until May. How late in May? When does your district get out? If it is before the middle of June, then once you hit the middle to end of May, your effective teaching year is over. Both the adults and students are geared toward the end of the year and its activities (graduation, finals, grades, prom, getting everything finished, making up work, and getting out).

      6. Since the time is so short, you can survive this.

      Once again, best wishes on getting through this. Next year should be much better.

  14. Thanks Robert for the insightful commentary.

    1. The coach is a new district employee with about 20 teachers he needs to coach. He’s not prepared but also not in the know how things have been run for years. He should talk to someone at the district level for this because he clearly wont listen to me.

    2. Ive been profiting greatly being in a small department of 3 at my middle school. I teach French and and heritage spanish speakers which are not taught by anyone else. I have been hands off for a while now with NT in French and my attempt at FVR in Spanish.

    3. I hope to bribg in new teachers into TPRS or at least some strategies that are CI based that meet standards.

    4. I hope to touch base with mike peto about his heritage classes.

    5. We will be working from now until the end of may. It will be a fun project!

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