Mission Statement – 1

I believe that it is important for any professional in any field to have a mission statement. I never actually wrote one when, for the first 24 years of my career, I was teaching AP French Language and Literature, because I didn’t really have a mission, and if I ever published one it was a complete lie.

Why do I say that I told my clients (parents and kids) a lie for the first 24 years of my professional career? Because I didn’t know the research back then. Yup. For a quarter of a century I did work and I never had read the research. No further comment on that.

What was my mission statement even after finding TPRS in 2001, and getting up to speed on the research? I STILL didn’t write one then. It took me years (two full decades after those first 24 years) to figure it all out, to figure out what a shift in paradigms it really was for me. And I’m still figuring out the research (and the standard, of course). So I couldn’t honestly write a real mission statement in those early years also.

Is there a real mission statement out there in any school, even with the light now shed on us by the Blaine Ray tsunami of the early 2000s? Not many of us take the time to read those mission statements in the first place anyway, right? I don’t think any language teachers follow their canned, year-in/year-out statements. They don’t know them. They don’t read them. They don’t change them. It’s all a big joke.

Yes, I submitted my disingenuous (i.e. bullshit) “mission statements” during those first 24 traditional AP teaching years and even during the last 20 TPRS/CI years, and they were always accepted by those who asked for them. Are we not bullshit artists in our field?

If I had written anything true about my mission as a teacher over those 40+ years, had I the been honest, however, I would have said that my main mission was of a more personal nature. I would have said that my mission, for all those years of my career, was only to get the approval and good will of my administrators, students and their parents, so that they would like me. I didn’t know the research, I didn’t teach according to the research, and I really just wanted approval from my employers.

So my true mission statement for most of my career, until I fully absorbed the research over four decades, would have been:

“My mission as a language teacher is to make people – my students, their parents and my administrators mainly – think I’m a good teacher so they like me and so give me job security.”

That’s a pretty shitty mission statement. But at least it was honest. I wonder how many teachers, had they been given a reality pill, would say the same kind of thing. Probably not too many. I’m sure most language teachers over the past fifty years in our country had good and meaningful mission statements, based on the research. It’s probably just me.




1 thought on “Mission Statement – 1”

  1. One way to say it, and it’s hard to admit, but it’s COVID time (time for some honesty), is that way back in the day I needed approval more than I needed to align with the research. I wasn’t alone. The textbook is a wonderful tool to gain the approval of people whose brains are still made out of wood. But I’m a big boy now. I just spent a lifetime thinking about this shit 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. I’m still doing it. But I’ve learned some true things, like we need to fricking align with the research and not let the new breed of CI experts bend the research down, twisting it against its inclinations, pulling the lovely branches of the Krashen, Mason and BVP trees down to the ground so they can pluck dollars from the branch, when in reality they need, like we in this PLC need, to work on our vertical leap, to be able to jump high enough to pluck the best fruit from the top of the research trees, where the eating is wonderful, and leave the wooden fruit to the experts. Look, ain’t nobody aligning CI with the research these days. Blaine was a high jumper in high school. Susan Gross, the best of them all, when at Cheyenne Mountain MS in Colorado Springs, could jump higher than anyone. Her CI horse itself was ten feet tall and when she came to my classroom to teach me about REAL CI, not the current crap, her cowboy hat touched the ceiling of my classroom. Oh, those were the days. But the new breed of experts has done to CI the same thing that the traditionalists did – turn CI into a money machine. Work on your vertical leap. Start by re-reading the research. Find a tall horse. Take yourself for a ride. Learn what real language teaching is all about.

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