Goat or Dinosaur?

One of our group members here on the PLC has had a very bad year. No one in her school wants to see anything good in CI as a way to teach a language.

Instead of keeping a little room in their hearts for CI, they have attacked our colleague. They have done this repeatedly, every day, for a few years now – ever since our colleague first tried a few years ago to update her teaching to align with the CURRENT standard and the CURRENT research, on behalf of CURRENT best practices and mainly in the best interests of the kids.

Honestly, as I have worked with this teacher over the past year, my anger has grown. Every day I see my CI colleagues getting ramrodded by ignorant educators, but this particular situation is beyond the pale, even for attacks on fledgling CI teachers by traditional teachers (see the “When Attacked” category here on the PLC) who at least want to check CI out. This school is just full of ignorance when it comes to teaching languages, and our colleague has been hammered by the brunt of that ignorance!

To repeat how odd this is now in the 21st century: Everyone in this school – colleagues and admins and parents – fully believes in the legacy methods we all have received every year for the past 70 to 100 years. They jealously guard this belief in the textbook, in targeted lists of vocabulary that can only be retained via memorization and the horrendously-designed old ways.

Our colleague has been the scapegoat. I would rather be some sort of goat than a dinosaur! 

With one particularly difficult parent, a parent who wanted to know why her son did poorly on the school-wide end of year (memorization) final exam, our colleague bravely stood up in a phone call with this parent today. Below is her report (in italics) on that call, with my comment below it:

So I spoke with her today and caught myself about to lose it and then I was able to feel comfortable just speaking and not necessarily thinking if that makes sense.  I said that I didn’t think the test was an accurate assessment of his communicative ability. I said that I  was outnumbered by administration and department about giving the final and that the final was a failure and not her son. I told her that I would go through the test with her and her son. She wants to know the class average of the test.  

My response to our colleague, also in italics:

If you read your first sentence above it is what you have needed to say to someone all along. You told the truth. In this situation the true problem has come to light – that the problem lies in the test and not even w the people around it. Good for you. It is an obvious fact – the school makes really shitty, out-of-touch-with-the-standard-and-the-research assessment instruments, everything is based on who can memorize best, and now finally you have said it.

Now the big question, how did she react and did she say anything that implied that she might go to the admin on this?

If she DOES go to admin to complain, it’s good bc you will finally get your say after being ignored by everyone in your department and your ignorant admin team as well. It is brave and good, what you did today – finally forced your school to look at how far out-of-touch it is with the rest of the country. Now you may be able to speak more often. This is crucial. You may find that this parent is helping you get your department turned around. 

If she DOESN’T go to admin, it’s good too. Somebody has heard your position on the standard and the research. I feel that it is a watershed moment. Your position is still not accepted or even noticed in your school, given the way they came after you like dogs all year and need someone like you to attack, but there is a crack in the code of silence.

YOU HAVE EXPOSED SOMETHING WRONG ABOUT HOW YOUR LANGUAGE DEP’T. DOES THINGS, AND NOW THE WATER CAN TRICKLE IN AND FINALLY BE SEEN FOR WHAT IT REALLY DOES – MAKES KIDS DISLIKE LEARNING A LANGUAGE.

Either way, your speaking your truth is something very good and I am proud of you. 

Now take a nice rest this summer, get ready to teach using both ways, to the test and to the Star – to the test bc you need to keep your job, and to the Star bc the kids enjoy it so much. You did really did well today!

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