Face 1 vs. Face 2 (repost)

I thought I would republish this article describing some work Bernard did a few years ago in Las Vegas:

I learned something while coaching Bernard that I would like to share bc it seems like kind of a secret. I learned in watching Bernard be coached, more by the group than just me, that what is on your face counts when you teach.

Some of us blow this – we become so concerned about delivering the instruction that our faces kind of get distorted and the kids see that and lose interest because the last thing we ever want to do in a classroom is let on that we are teaching anything, but rather convey one thing above all – that those kids in front of us are the most important thing to us in the world. (It’s not true, but we have to act that way if we are to succeed with CI.)

It’s just that way in a classroom. When we try too hard and stay focused on the lesson, the kids see it and turn off their minds and close their hearts, kind of packing up their interest and shoving that interest into their book bags so we can’t get to it.

When our students do that, they are sending us a huge message, they are teaching us something that we need to do in order to reach them; they are trying to tell us, through their boredom, that we are not doing what we need to reach them.

We are telling them that language learning is a big complicated deal but that we can teach it to them if they but listen. Ah, but there’s the rub – they don’t WANT it to be a big complicated deal; they don’t want it to be hard. After all, most of them already speak one language and some speak two or even more.

By their refusal to participate, they are really yelling at us to chill out and relax a bit, so that we can in fact teach them something real. (Languages are based on the real need of human beings to communicate and therefore cannot be taught in false, plastic, one dimensional ways. Bring some heart.)

By shutting down, our students are doing the only thing that they can to try to show us that interacting with other humans in a different language doesn’t have to be fake and it doesn’t have to be painful, and in fact it mustn’t be those things. We blame our on that shutting down thing, but in reality it’s us.

(The single biggest reason for that shutdown by our students, to be clear, is not the human interaction piece being described in this article, it is because we speak too fast for our students to understand us.)

So what was on Bernard’s face in that coaching session spoke eloquently. Actually there were two faces, as there always must be when one is teaching. There was Face 1 – Bernard’s teacher face (the face the kids must not see) and Face 2 – the person face (the face the kids must see). I was sitting to Bernard’s side and for some reason could see that better.

If you look at your face in a video of you teaching, and you can only see the teacher face, you need to address that. You need to switch over to the face of the person that you really are because of what was said above, that you can only reach kids with the face of the person you are. It’s called being human.

Or you could try the deliver-of-instructional services thing and use a book/and or a computer program and walk the walk with that while you talk the talk of CI. Good luck with that – the kids will see right through it and shut down.

Bernard’s Face 1, his teaching face, as he was being coached, was really struggling. I could see that. But his Face 2, his real person face, is the face he showed us as he was working. Face 1 was busy trying to remember the mechanical things he was working on in the coaching session, but Face 2, the real Bernard, was front and center in the human way to the class of adults he was teaching.

That is the glory of it, perhaps because Bernard is French and they really are a glorious people in many ways, if for no other reason than what they do with food and that Molière was French. Bernard never took off his Face 2, his real person face, even though his Face 1 was underneath there struggling to learn the new method. His Face 2 was smiling and having a great time bringing the CI to us.

Bernard’s Face 1 was saying, “I can’t do this! This sucks!” It stands to reason. That week at NTPRS in Las Vegas was his first exposure to the approach! Bernard’s Face 2 was saying, “I’m doing this! I’m laughing with my students! I’m teaching them real French!”

So Bernard taught us all a lesson in that coaching session – use Face 2. Brilliant!

The update on that, from two years ago, is that Bernard has had much success in his classroom. We would love to hear from him, and from anybody, as it’s time again for those reports from the field that we enjoy reading from our friends throughout the academic year.



10 thoughts on “Face 1 vs. Face 2 (repost)”

  1. I was there on that Wednesday night, and I remember Bernard’s intense concern for us. That is what really came through. Here he was, on the spot, “going through the motions” in a sense for a room full of teachers. But when I gave an answer, he had all his attention on me, he showed that he appreciated my contribution (whether or not he accepted it for the story), and he was genuine. I was in a coaching session the next day, and he was coaching me as an intern coach (which meant that a coach was coaching him on his coaching of me–how’s that for meta!). Once again, here he was, again on the spot, but fully there as a person, and he was making very simple but essential observations and comments that really helped me.

    Kids are amazing BS detectors, and once we stop seeing that as a problem, as an obstacle to our content-delivery schedule, then we can recognize it for what it truly is: the first articulated gropings for what is real and genuine on the part of children who are beginning to realize the shitty fact that the world of adults involves a whole lot of role-playing and hypocrisy. We can send the message that not all adults are required to behave this way–not all the time, at least.

  2. Wonderful !!! Beautiful!!! and perfect timing!! Forget that old adage about not smiling until Christmas!!!

    This is Michele’s gift as well: total delight in her students….and it is clearly written in her smile. I KNOW that her teacher face was one of utter concentration…but all the students saw was her delight.

    How do we do this? That is the kicker. First, we can be honest about ourselves with our students. I’m a real person who makes mistakes, mispeaks, loses things etc. We can laugh at our own shortcomings and enjoy ourselves as we are..in front of our students. If we are not trying to be perfect, we may not have to wear that teacher-face out front. (and our students will learn a valuable lesson about teachers and adults in general).

    With love,

  3. The good news is that with time the “naked feeling” and panic that comes with not having a page in the book, a set of pronunciation exercises or a worksheet and leads to “face #1” fades and the fun of riding the wave of L2 takes over and leads to face 2….

    This would be a good place to once again thank all of those that have helped so many go from face 1 to face 2….

    Also, I don’t know how many of you have been able to see Michele present (I mean TEACH) but what Laurie refers to is SO true.. She has such a calming effect on her class and an uncanny ability to “reach” you with that smile and give you confidence. Her excitement when you get it or her “total delight in her students” is contagious…

  4. It’s worth adding that our voices also carry implicit messages. Tone of voice is a very powerful window into our humanness, our presence (or not). I have a low voice, and can unawarely become very loud, which scares/intimidates students. Along with facial expression, I think our tone of voice is a key component in how our students “see” us, experience us.

    In this regard I think I’m at my best when (a la mind meld) I’m immersed in the story or action and I use my voice deliberately, in a flexible way, theatrically even. Students love when I use a falsetto for a woman’s voice, etc.

    In my ideal TPRS university/graduate program, there would be coursework on this kind of thing, with an emphasis on improvisation in general.

    1. Bonjour Judy,

      Je m’appelle Sabrina Janczak et je suis membre du blog. Je suis Française ( de Paris). Je vis à Chicago où j’enseigne le Français dans un lycée public, et j’enseigne strictement avec TPRS.
      Bernard est Français lui aussi et nous nous sommes rencontrés à NTPRS cet été à Las Vegas. Il est également prof de Français dans l’Utah. Il devait également s’inscrire sur le blog mais je ne crois pas qu’il l’ai déja fait.
      Où enseignez vous?
      Je peux vous donner l’adresse email de Bernard si vous le désirez.

  5. After more than 4 hours of giving, Ben was the last one to leave the room, giving to the expression “no teacher left behind” a whole new dimension 😉
    Along with many selfless and passionate language teachers I met at the NTPRS, Ben, you have so much heart! I remember trying to get there, to reach this level of heart and art, and in the process finding myself oscillating between face 1 and face 2. It is an unvaluable and humbling experience to have someone coaching you while you teach, to see yourself through the words of you peers. Encore merci Ben, your passion is contagious.

  6. I taught in a French lycée in Agen for over 15 years. This year I’m officially retired, but am trying to get started with private lessons to small groups and would like to work with French teachers who want to try TPRS, but it’s a lonnnnnnnng road. At least in the States people are talking about TPRS, either for or against. Here, all I get are blank stares.

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