Live and Let Live – Oh Really?

I’ve been thinking about the administrator pressures that we endure each day. I consider them extremely detrimental to our mental health and I feel strongly that they are unnecessary, because administrators don’t understand how people acquire languages – they think it is an academic subject but it is a human one. So I updated this article from last spring and added a few ideas:

I have noticed that if I don’t know what a person’s intentions are towards me, I don’t know how to behave. I spend a lot of time professionally trying to figure out how to “read” people. When I know what they intend, for example when I am with my TCI colleagues in Denver Public Schools, it is easy for me to relax around them and so I can be more fully present with them and share more of myself.

There was a principal at East High whom I mistrusted greatly and I left the school because of him. I never felt comfortable around my entire WL department there either. Each one of us – there were ten of us – had a different agenda. I came into direct heated conflict with one of them.

I don’t think that those of us in this group who are in conflict with their departmental colleagues know what that may be doing to us. The general position seems to be one of live and let live. But if it is true that on some deeper level we need to know what others’ intentions towards us are, then I think it possible that the live and let live idea might not be the best policy.

I want to refer again to Michael Fullan’s stance on this topic, in case anyone missed it posted here a few days ago.  I like to go to Krashen and Merton and Fullan a lot in our discussions here, as per this about Fullan:

Why is this important? Why is it important to trust those with whom we work? Because we can go nuts otherwise. Something that really seems to weigh on me as I have read so many comments from so many teachers over the years is how we are always on the defensive with administrators who truly don’t get what we do.

Look at what Jessica Chase wrote here just yesterday:

…I still struggle to describe my CI classroom instruction in terms of “units” but it’s something I have to figure out to keep those lovely administrators happy….

The thing is, I hear things like this all the time. So all I wanted to add to this post about how important it is for us to work together, most administrators (ignorantly) create settings for us that put us on the defensive, that require us to “keep them happy” as Jessica said. Not very Fullan-like.

Usually it’s because of units and pacing guides like someone just commented here yesterday (can’t find the actual quote) and other things that keep us from truly hanging with our kids in the Net and the Din and the very FLOW of what we do that can be so magical and yet that is compromised by the need to function in schools and “make admins happy”.

So my whole point here is simple. We are not the crazy ones.



4 thoughts on “Live and Let Live – Oh Really?”

  1. I find it beyond belief, since it is clear that language is the vehicle for bringing human beings together, for connecting their thoughts and emotions, that we would not use that vehicle in teaching it. Why not use the vehicle that brings humans together to teach the vehicle? For a hundred years, we have behaved as if the social connection piece is a side bar, so in the textbooks there was all this fake interaction between kids who didn’t even exist and lived in Paris and meant nothing to our students. Am I crazy to think that it is best to teach a language with real and authentic social connectedness between teacher and students as per my favorite researcher on this topic, Lev Vygotsky?

  2. I would like to add to this that when we go to the conflict, we have a better sense of what it is and how to address it. Going away from the conflict, letting it exist below the level of awareness, runs the risk of having it appear later in a stronger from.

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