What Should We Say In Job Interviews?
I got this excellent question from a young Denver area teacher – please answer below in the comment section if you have any ideas that might help.
A year or so ago, I was doing my student teaching and had heard a lot about TPRS and came to one of your presentations with your students at your school. So cool! I bought one of your books and I am reading it currently (PQA in a Wink!). After my student teaching, I spent my last semester abroad in Brazil learning more Portuguese (I am licensed to teach Spanish, however).
I am currently working in a middle school as the Native Language Tutor (supporting ESL students in their core classes), but am applying for jobs as a Spanish teacher in Colorado (Boulder, Jeffco, Adams 12, St. Vrain, Denver, surrounding area).
When I do get a job, I optimally would love to launch into TPRS teaching, but I wanted your recommendation on what you think for a first year teacher teaching TPRS. I know some schools are for it, some are vehemently against it. Do you have a recommendation for what a good way would be to ease into TPRS teaching methodology so as a first year teacher I can make some kind of transition? What, in general, should I expect if I talk about it in interviews? I want to make it accessible to people who might be hiring me, but not have it be threatening to their school’s expectations of a traditional language class.
Thanks for your input and response, it is truly appreciated!
My response: I don’t know what to say about your question. Some of us just fly our freak flag and others are cautious. If I were you I would be cautious. There are a lot of people with experience in schools who, at the first whisper of the term, get really weird. The term TPRS has just been so misrepresented! So sad, and yet very very true. And it is getting worse as at least nine of ten teachers do the method without a clue of how far what they are doing is from Krashen and Blaine’s original vision. I don’t think that a day goes by that somebody is turned off to the term TPRS, and for no other reason than because somebody in their building is shredding it. Why is that? Who knows? But, pretty soon, within a year possibly, the term won’t mean anything. (I could be way off the mark on this – I hope I am – but all I ever see now is one person doing actual TPRS in their rooms and like fifty doing a truly mangled version of it. How can we blame our colleagues for putting up a red flag when they see this? I would! I know of one case where a teacher claimed to do TPRS but spoke the target language maybe 15% of the time. What are people to think when that happens? So I wouldn’t mention it. I would use the term “comprehension based methods”, or something like that. Tell them you teach for acquisition, that you want to communicate in the target language with your students. Give them a demo right there! Have them fill out a Circling with Balls card and do that (see this site/resources/workshop handouts). Stay in L2 and have fun with them and watch yourself get offered a contract. A few summers ago, I did that with the Adams 14 superintendent (wasn’t applying for a job, he was just curious) and it worked, but then the people working for him crushed it in that district). But show them, don’t just tell them, that you don’t SPEAK ABOUT the language in the classroom; you SPEAK the language. If you know that the department you are wanting to join is open and aware to the new Colorado standards (Dec. ’09), search a little on my blog and look for them and make sure you talk about them in the interview and how “comprehension based teaching” perfectly aligns with the standards. If the principal seems even half conscious of our new standards (some actually are!) then you definitely want to tell her that her department will be aligning more and more with them if you are hired. Feel lucky to be in Colorado, because most people doing comprehension based teaching can only say that they align with the national (ACTFL) standards, because most states are still driving covered wagons on that deal. I will put your question on the blog for the experts, but that is my general feeling on this topic.
Admins don’t actually read the research. They don’t have time. If or when they do read it, they do not really grasp it. How could