Report from the Field – Tim Bennett

Here is a nice report from Tim:

Hi Ben –

This has gone better than I thought. Circling and PQA have always intimidated me. When I tried them years ago, I couldn’t sustain them. I would circle with one student, then other kids wouldn’t pay attention and side conversations would erupt. I always remembered Susie Gross saying, “Discipline precedes instruction” and it haunted me because I knew it was true. Part of the class would seem to grow bored and I would lose them. Last year was almost my last year of teaching. I couldn’t take it anymore, it being my feeble, sad attempt to do grammar and textbook and some of the TPRS stories and novels that truly did work for me. This PLC is unique because there are honest discussions. There are so few honest discussions among teachers. I swear I think it’s because everyone is so exhausted and numb sometimes.

But guess what? It clicked for me in both Spanish I and II. I am the only language teacher at my school so I usually have kids for two years. I wasn’t sure how they would respond to the changes but so far it has been good. New year, new journey. The rules are literally backing me up (I turn, smile a la Greg Stout, and point to 1 or 2 as needed.) My challenge is that sometimes I can’t get cute answers consistently. I also have to WORK at going slow as you all have said. However, I got an amazing story from one class. The follow-up reading on the smart board really was awesome.

Some students are feeling the creative possibilities and some aren’t. We did have a kid drive his yellow truck to Mt. Everest in search of a green pair of socks and another kid play baseball with lions in Madagascar in the bathroom. I guess not every CWB turns into a developed story but I want it to because I want each kid to feel valued. If the energy goes out of one kid’s story because the kids just aren’t responding well for a number of reasons, what should I do? The questions poster helps me and I also discovered if the kid drives a car, I work that in. I accidentally discovered this when Kaylee and Channing Tatum left the local Mexican restaurant in her “Toyota Corolla Negro” (drawn out dramatically) instead of his helicopter). That delighted them so I will keep using it.

Tim

P.S. Do I keep sending questions/reports to this e-mail or just add them to existing discussions?

(Answer is to send anything that would qualify as a “report from the field” to benslavic@yahoo.com so I can publish them as articles.)

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9 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Tim Bennett”

  1. As Ben noted, keep sending reports to he e-mail. However, if you have questions, they are usually more time sensitive, so find a category or recent post that sort of fits and ask the question as part of an existing discussion. Or go to the forum and start a new thread (after looking to see if someone already asked your question). However, the forum doesn’t get as much traffic.

    Don’t let your desire to turn every CWB into a story override your feeling of the energy in the room. You might not get a story today, but there’s always tomorrow and next week. Come back to that student later to see if anything develops. At the very least, use him or her for contrast or a parallel situation.

  2. Congratulations!! I love this line: ” That delighted them so I will keep using it.”

    Pure gold!

    We often say, “Follow the energy” but I love the idea of “following the joy”!!

    Robert is right…not every day nor every story will be golden. They really don’t need that. (we think we do…..) They shine just being a part of it all.

    Congrats on this year’s success. I’m delighted for YOU!

    with love,
    Laurie

  3. Robert, thanks for the advice to pace myself. I appreciate your posts a lot.

    Laurie, so glad to see you here. I remember you from more than 10 years ago on the moreTPRS list. (hard to forget the distinctive spelling of your last name). What I really remember most is the wisdom, kindness, and love with which you dealt with every person with whom you came in contact.

  4. This might help:
    I have a bulletin board with question words. I asked students to bring in a baby picture. The night of back-to-school I hang up all the baby pictures from all 4 sections that I have. I explain to parents that 1) kids ask question by nature when they’re little. It’s a reminder that it’s okay to ask questions–both I of them and they of me. And 2) when they were kids their imaginations ran wild. Before we start a story I ask them to look at their picture of them and remember the time when it was okay to be creative. So far when we pause and channel our inner-kid we get the cute stuff that helps us to run wild. 3) it personalizes the class to reflect that it’s all about them. 4) when I get angry I look at how cute they were.
    Just an idea,
    Drew

  5. I LOVE this idea! Plus, I am going to start videotaping to curtail side chatter. Grades are out and jGr reflects Interpersonal Skills – problem is some kids don’t seem to care about their grades. I have some worksheets ready for tomorrow to send them out to be baby-sat by AP. Grrrrr!

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