Report from the Field – John Piazza

This report from the field is in the form of a picture. John Piazza reports from Berkeley High School (CA):

Hi Ben,

I wanted to share this pic with you, because I think that you will understand when you see it. This was taken a week ago by a former student who asked to interview me for a college journalism class. When I look at the picture, it shows me that I have made progress in my work. I am finally starting to own this space, and it is now a safe space for kids, and I have had to fight with everything I have in order to make it that way.




9 thoughts on “Report from the Field – John Piazza”

  1. John also sent me the following which I have his permission to share:

    …you know what I’m up against, and what a huge victory it is that I’m not only still standing, but making real progress at the end of my second year here. A lot of things are still up in the air regarding next year, but in another month I’ll be able to post today a more detailed report from the field. I am suffering through a lot of complexity, and the simplification process may not happen for another year or two or three. But I am starting to see that my goal is reachable, even in this crazy school. I just have to be patient….

  2. “Still standing” and sitting up tall and looking relaxed. We are looking forward to the more detailed post. Keep on standing.

  3. It’s very moving to see this photo, you beautiful there in the space you have created, knowing that you have suffered and persevered to be there. And of course it resonates with my own suffering and perseverance and hope and vision. Let’s keep on fighting and growing and moving forward together!

    1. Angie how long has it been since you and Carly walked around that corner at North High School and Mark Mallaney and I were sitting there on the back steps that fine summer morning in Denver? That was the first day of iFLT and it was like four years ago already, right? And then we had that War Room thing going on and at one point Piazza was up there teaching with the human tent and Bob Patrick and Luisa Walker and John Bracey and James Hosler – all those Latinists! – and David Sceggel and Karen Rowan leaning against the wall smiling in the back and all of us so nervous to teach in front of each other and so many of us here were together in the same room for the first time and it was like an inner connection party all week. I remember how new you were to this kind of teaching and at the same exact time you were killing it and I said to myself, “She just started and look at this! She’s hitting it out of the park!” It was weird because it took me eight years to do what you got to in what seemed like a few months.

      1. And Angie thank you also for saying this:

        …knowing that you have suffered and persevered to be there…”.

        This is what friends say to each other. This is speaking a true thing born out of dark and scary times and changed into a kind of real happiness born of class after class of little fears one minute after the other mixed with little triumphs that whisper the following to us while they are happening,

        “There is no other job in the world where you will experience this kind of professional authenticity!”

        That was those angels and cherubs again, always following me around while I was creating a story with my kids, protecting me and taking care of me in class, making sure cool things happened in spite of my fears and dark thoughts each day that only teachers who are trying to become real can know.

        We both deeply know the fear of teaching this way, we have embraced, fallen down thud hard many times, got up, taught another class when we thought we couldn’t and persevered and you saw all that in my photo. Thank you for being my friend Angie! We’ve both been a long way since that iFLT!


        1. Claire said:

          …you’re doing it anyways, just save that text as evidence and watch the writing grow over the semester (tracking growth over time is something we do infinitely better than data turds with traditional tests)….

          You see Claire this is what is blowing the top off of this discussion and I know I am not alone on this one: you are putting our focus on what we are already doing as valid assessment. This is revealing an entire new world of data gathering that is based in process and not result and is “showing that (date) turd who is boss” as per the bathroom stall cowboy in Austin Powers when Austin gets attacked by the Lucky Charms guy. We never thought this way. We always thought we had to teach and then later test to kind of wrap it up and find out how we did and how they did and if we did bad we just said they did bad and went out for a sandwich while they walked out of our classrooms convinced that they weren’t as good at languages as the kid next to them, which minor event to us is major to them and in the invisible world between students and teachers is some kind of emotional crime, to judge them like that.

          We have to cling to this idea if we are to make it around this 70 m.p.h. curve you are driving us around in your new ESL, Claire.

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