What Should New People Do?

On the topic of training new people, Robert Harrell has said:

“I think there is a place for practicing certain skills in isolation, but if we never practice everything at once, it will never come together.”

I have heard it said that doing TPRS in Blaine’s “stepless” way makes it “harder for beginners”.

People making this claim say that we need to “break TPRS down for beginners”. Why?

I coached high school basketball (for two years before burning out) and we played a lot more than we practiced passing, dribbling, etc. Shooting individually is not at all like shooting with someone in your face in a real game.

Yes I know that Steph Curry shoots a ton of 3 pointers a day in practice but the analogy kind of breaks down when you consider that he has been playing basketball games as well since he was a little kid.

He grew up playing drive way pick up games with the first NBA three point star ever – his dad. His dad probably did not make his son do lay-ups for two hours and then play basketball for fifteen minutes?

And as they played games was bigger and already an NBA star and so now Seth can drain last second shots with people’s hands in his face. He just did it again today to wind over OKC.

But with teachers? Practicing circling when we don’t really even circle in stories in that way? We can’t just sashay up to the basket and do a lay up in a game (the other team doesn’t like that). Practicing what? What is there to practice?

Our practice happens in the next class that comes in. Workshops have failed to teach this method because of their insistence on breaking things down into pieces.

If we want to be like Blaine we need to just stand up and do what Blaine does. For so long now we have been saying how important practicing the fundamentals of TPRS is so important. I just don’t believe it.

I believe that new people can learn TPRS faster and better by just teaching on their feet in workshops than by breaking it down.

Few agree with me on this. They are all on the fundamentals train and the lesson plans train. But in my view we make it hard for them by presenting it to them in little pieces in the same way that we make it hard for our students when we present it them in little pieces.

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6 thoughts on “What Should New People Do?”

  1. Experiment:

    1) Attend a “methods” course in a graduate teacher preparation program that begins with a Blaine Ray TPRS workshop. Record the questions students have about implementing this in their classroom.

    2) Attend a Blaine Ray TPRS workshop. Record the questions teachers have about implementing this in their classroom.

    My prediction is that teachers bring too much baggage to TPRS and need all sorts of assistance altering what it is they’re familiar with, whereas the students bring less of everything. EVERYONE will likely undergo some disequilibrium since we’ve all basically come up through the grammatical syllabus system. What’s more troublesome, is that we all enjoyed that, else, we wouldn’t have taught (or continued?) language at all.

    So, it’s in the baggage teachers bring that demands steps, just like why we include chapters on ordering food in textbooks because people expect them to be there (a la BvP).

    1. “too much baggage”

      Nail on the head, Lance. That is what Ben said on his post (Message About My Workshops): “It’s more about unlearning.”

      1. Im glad I never truly learned to do thematic units and setting up partner or whole class output activities. I barely remember my grammar that was easy to unlearn.

  2. As a Blaine Ray workshop presenter, I think I have a unique perspective on this. I would agree that teachers with no baggage can do this much easier than teachers that have taught in traditional ways for a number of years. Normally the problem with newer teachers is their own proficiency level. New teachers lack the confidence to believe that they can speak comprehensively 50 minutes per day with beginners.

    Essentially in workshops you do have to retrain them. They have to experience this process as a student at the same time analyzing it from prospective that they’re unfamiliar with. It is my experience that even native speakers have a tremendous amount of learning curve when doing this.

    I love what’s Ben said in another post about returning to mini stories… this is where some magical training can happen!

  3. New teachers lack the confidence to believe that they can speak comprehensively 50 minutes per day with beginners.

    I would need to formulate some speech with my non-native level French, at least in the non conventional way of circling: adding always, why, still to questions to spice things up. I know it, I’ve slightly acquired it but practice is whats needed.

    Native speakers I would imagine neeed practice sheltering, going slow and staying in bounds…. My problem in Spanish.

    1. …new teachers lack the confidence to believe that they can speak comprehensively 50 minutes per day with beginners….

      Three things to help you do that, Steven:

      1. Slow down.
      2. Work from a text.
      3. Spin out from the text to ask them humorous questions that compare them to the people/characters in the text. The best texts to read with them are the stories they created. That is why I have 21 steps in Reading Option A.

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