I get so tired from teaching that I have to sleep. But, somewhere after midnight, I wake up, because there is so much to process, so much to think about in this massive learning change that we are all in together now. Thoughts come into my mind and they won’t leave me alone and I have to process them.
Verb conjugations. There is so much to process about all that fake teaching that I used to do many years ago in my classroom. So much to let go of. But I can see clearly now and the rain is gone. I wake up at night and and I see the sun and I think about how stupendous this change towards comprehensible input really is.
Those who reject comprehensible input as the principle agent of change in their foreign language classroom – I just can’t think of anything kind to say about that kind of ignorance. All I can see is how thick it is. I wouldn’t attack it so vociferously except for the fact that it hurts kids, millions of kids. So I attack.
When Jennifer wrote that post of yesterday about signing kids to the next level – what she is experiencing there blows my mind. How brave she is. It is such a massive emotional event for a young teacher who was trained in the old ways. And, seeing Jennie teach in my classroom yesterday, how wonderful that was. How brave those two Jennifers are. How brave we all are with this stuff.
The parameters, the boundaries set by the old ways of teaching, those walls that have surrounded our classrooms for so many decades now, those walls built by book companies, those walls made of books and worksheets, are quickly becoming old and thick and resistant and dark and moldy. They close too much in on my spirit, and they push in on me and I push back.
Those walls made up of millions of worksheets and books, stuck together with the tears of millions of kids who think wrongly that they are not good at languages, are about to be set ablaze. Telling kids that they can’t get to the next level, it is so sad. Jennifer knows this and many others.
How to destroy the walls? Krashen made and lit the match, and the fire is started, but we must also head butt the walls. Like Zizou did. Just turn around in the middle of our classrooms and head butt them. How long do we accept ignorant teaching that hurts kids before we just start with the head butting? How long do we wait for the blaze to actually start? How long do we keep our cool?
Dakota Ridge High School’s acceptance of a 90% drop out rate after two years of foreign language study to me is astounding, but it supports their basic premise that most language learners are stupid. They don’t know what we know.
We and we alone determine how we react to our teaching at the end of each academic year. It is soon time to do that again. Some of us choose to try new things, others not. Another summer is approaching. A summer when we can act like there is no need to change. Or a summer when we can embrace the change that we know is necessary.
If we don’t try new things, we will soon be dinosaurs in a mud pit, and nobody will want to employ us. Principals are waking up, as so many of us are this spring. We cannot stay asleep.
We must wake up! We must learn to teach for comprehension, not memorization. We must learn to reach our kids. This may cause us to wake up at night, often, for long periods of time, and we may be tired for some years as we retool, because aligning old ideas of instruction with Krashen is not easy, but what are our options? Unemployment.
We can go get trained this summer, before we endure another year of solitude with our kids. The best comprehensible input training I am aware of is the one in Los Angeles this summer, the one that Diana Noonan is organizing. That is just my opinion, but, with Krashen and Jason Fritze there, it will probably be the best one. There is also Chicago.
Just go get trained. Be willing to hurt. Be willing to be afraid. Be willing to change. Be willing to wake up at night with ideas that won’t leave you alone. Do it for the kids. Give up your verb conjugations, for God’s sake. Wake up.
I’m going back to sleep, though, because in less than three hours I will be in front of 22 kids who have studied French for four years but don’t know anything. They are so smart but they don’t know anything.
I will bring them donuts, and try to speak in French to them 90% of the time for 90 minutes. And I will succeed and some will come with me. Some won’t, because the damage to their confidence has been astounding.
That is what keeps me waking up at night. And I will continue to wake up at night and keep writing stuff like this in the middle of the night until I see some of the ignorance around me dissipate. In the meantime, I will, along with Jennifer and all of us who refuse to tell a kid that they are stupid, keep headbutting until that fire catches. I’ve had it.
Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could