Our Work is Changing – 7

We must look at what our students really would want as they come into our classrooms each day. They do not come in wanting to learn the language. That comes later. They first come in wanting to feel included. Therefore, we must learn ways to talk about our students in ways that draw them in. We must learn what they want to talk about.

One thing is certain after these first three decades of TPRS. Our students do not come into our classrooms each day wanting to supply cute answers to a story that they may or may not be interested in, that has been hijacked by the five to seven fastest and most extroverted students in the classroom, so that the majority of the students in the classroom feel “less than” during the process of the creation of the story.

Of course, being excluded by the teacher in favor of a small group of students who drive the story is nothing new to them. Students who are naturally introverted or slower processors but are asked to become by some magical process an extrovert in their language class are asked to do that in most if not all of their classes. It is a lose-lose situation for so many of them as we in the U.S. continue to allow the concept of competition to reign over that of cooperation in our school buildings. It seems that it has always been so.

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14 thoughts on “Our Work is Changing – 7”

  1. This series of thoughts is brilliant, Ben. Once again, you have hit the raw core of what we’re trying to do for our kids, the only true meaning in our work. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart, which, as you so poignantly point out, is exactly where we need to always work from.

  2. Kelly then what about the timbre of the discussion on the moretprs list? I feel like I go in there and post something about this all important heart quality aspect of our work and I get kind of a hissing reaction. Do I need to change deodorants?

  3. NO WAY, Ben. I don’t follow the moretprs list. Dropped it years ago because it was of no use to me. You’re my one and only – saved my career about ten years ago and have kept me sane ever since. This PLC is my compass, precisely because you cut through the tottering, overwhelming heaps of bullshit and hit the nerve of why we’re here and what really matters: a meaningful connection with the kids. This is what’s real, and this is what I hold on to and why I’m still able to work in a classroom every day.

    1. I have to meet you Kelly. That’s how I feel about Ben’s work. It kept me sane. I knew I wasn’t alone. I wish you’d come to Portland this summer! Email me if there any things I can do to help you get here. tinahargaden a gmail.

      1. I didn’t consider Portland because it would be an expensive undertaking for me, since I’m in Massachusetts. But I have always wanted to see that area, and I’d love to meet you all, so I’ll look into it more. Thank you, too, Tina, for the work you’re doing and sharing with us.

        1. Kelly besides being in Portland, Oregon we will be in Portland, Maine and also in Connecticut this summer. And in Vermont at the Express Fluency conference. Those are closer.

          1. Hi Kelly. There are a few of us in Central MA. We will be in Brattleboro. What part of the state do you teach?

          2. Thank you both! Nathaniel, I’m in western MA, in Pittsfield. I’ll definitely check out Brattleboro.

  4. Doing 1 on 1 interviews with students has revealed that the most introverted students are the ones who understood the most. They have acquired ALOT. Instead of a 10 minute freewrite, I did a 10 minuted free conversation based around our star interview questions. I am having a lot of success with these around this time of year. Students ask “Do I have to respond in French?” I tell them “If you can do so, if you do not understand I will ask my question in a different way and explain it on this sheet of paper.” I feel way more grounded 1 on 1. My introverts are amazing. Despite glaring differences, I tell students that there are areas of growth that we all have. I have them write a area of growth based on the class expectations — jGR/mGR.

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