Karen Witthoeft

Hi my name is Karen W. (formerly Karen),

I live in Anchorage, Alaska and this is my sixth year teaching Spanish. I never really wanted to be a Spanish teacher but it happened by coincidence and that getting a job teaching Art is impossible. I taught the traditional way for my first three years and it was terrible. I decided to make the switch completely to CI/TPRS and haven’t looked back. My students came away knowing so much more and I came away actually liking my job. I still am no pro at this style of teaching but I work at it as much as I can.  I struggle immensely with classroom management and have found out recently that jGR is my best friend (along with this PLC). I am so grateful to have this PLC and do not know what I would do without it. I have learned so much from all of you. I am currently teaching at a school that does not support my pedagogy as you all have heard through the workbook saga. However, the rebel in me is not willing to back down! I am not sure if I will teach forever as I also am a Thai Yoga bodyworker and if you never have had a Thai massage, get one, they are awesome. I am willing to trade Thai massage for most things in life (entrance into conferences, housing, etc). That aside, in the years of teaching that follow, I am committed to being the best CI/TPRS teacher I can be for my students and I am committed to spread my philosophy to those that are ignorant (if only all those new teachers realized how much easier CI/TPRS was they would change in a heartbeat as I did).

Peace and Love,

Karen  Witthoeft



7 thoughts on “Karen Witthoeft”

  1. Charlotte Kroeker

    Welcome! I would love a Thai massage sometime. I tried explaining some yoga postures to my grade 8 class in German with good results. It was fun and they could do it!

  2. Charlotte, We can trade thai massage for German lessons. I have thought about doing a yoga class in Spanish to work on command, body parts, and general well-being. I am interested in how you explained the poses in German. perhaps it could even be a game. The first person to figure it out or something…

    1. Hey Karen! I am also a yoga instructor 🙂 Don’t you think the practice of CI teaching is essentially a yoga practice? After all, it’s about presence, non-judgement, paying attention, allowing students’ inner light to shine.

      I’ve incorporated yoga into my language classes periodically. I have done this a lot, even in my pre-CI days. I have never done it regularly as a true practice with kids. It is something I feel has great potential in a CI class (or anywhere really ) but I can’t seem to make the commitment to just do it, like for 5 min. a day or something. It’s probably my own fear preventing me from doing this. It’s also just the feeling that I am already springing lots of different stuff at my students and yoga just might be way over the line of weirdness, even though on lots of levels they actually crave this type of thing.

      One idea I came up with recently is to focus on one posture (weekly?) rather than trying to do a whole “yoga class.” Then at some point, we’d have enough postures and language built up to do a “whole class” and that might be really cool.

      I know that last summer in Breckenridge there were some sessions about that, but I couldn’t fit that in. I saw the handout and was a bit concerned about some of the stuff like teaching inversions to large groups of hs students w/o sufficient background and attention. That is very risky IMO. Anyway, I would love to bounce ideas around with anyone who is interested in this idea: e mail me jen@santbani.org

      1. Hi and welcome Karen! I am so curious about that thai massage now and I just love this conversation about Yoga.
        I have been doing my own version of Yoga with my French 2 this year after attending the Yoga session in Breckenridge. I just do it after 20 minutes of CI or when I feel I’ m losing them, as one of the few brain breaks I use. Although at first they were looking at me like is this another crazy idea from our French teacher, they have now for most of them ( always a couple of exceptions) accepted it rather well. I don’t do that with my French 1 b/c I do TPR with them. So all we’ve really done in my 5 minutes Yoga brain break session is focus on breathing, and stretching (great way to teach all that vocab, it’s awesome) . I ‘ve used some of the breathing exercises we did in Breck (roar like a lion, Darth Vader breathing etc….).
        I am not a yoga instructor like you guys are, so it would be great to get some more ideas from you. Jen since you and I started this yoga conversation in Maine, I will write you off blog to brainstorm some more. I did find some more French websites for beginner Yoga and I have even showed the warrior pose to my kids last week. They liked it, and understood some of the commands as they were watching. My only limitation is space. I have a class of 36 kids and one of 33 so I have to restrict yoga to poses where they are standing up, or sitting down. May be in the summer when we could go outside I could extend it to other poses.
        I totally agree that Yoga in the classroom is a great addition/complement to CI, and as long as you have built in trust and relationships with the kids they will go for anything you ask them to do….
        On my way to yoga class now…. Have a great Sunday and thank you all for this fun thread .

        1. Brian Barabe (from Arizona) has often said to me that TPRS and yoga resonate with each other. He taught me something that he learned via yoga that frees us so much with TPRS and I use it all the time:

          You are where you are supposed to be.

          What a relief. It is okay to be where I am, in everything. I don’t have to stay here, but it is okay that I am, for whatever reason, in this place at this moment. And….if I don’t like it…at least I don’t have to add the burden of guilt to any other feelings that I might have. This is very important in TPRS as well…to let the guilt go that we might not be all that we want to be, but that we can be in the moment and learn all that we can from it.

          with love,
          and gratitude to Brian!

        2. Sabrina- you must try Thai massage. It is like having yoga and acupressure done on you and it is delicious. I am sure there are practitioners in Maine. I think it is starting to get really big here in the US.

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