First Friday

Just a little report on our first TPRS/CI meeting of the year in Anchorage here! It was raining furiously, reminding us of how most meetings last year took place during huge snowstorms. But inside Betsy’s house, we happily attacked wonderful food and enjoyed great connections with one another.

I’d set out the plan of watching a Scott Benedict webinar on Power Grading, doing some coaching, and sharing Blaine’s new tweak on story-building with a student. One group sat down to watch the video, and then they had an intense conversation part-way through about grading practices. The other group learned some French with Kristin, who did a fabulous story. Betsy set her up with a bunch of ideas of the sorts of things that we can practice when we’re doing coaching. The list was pretty long, as it turned out! It included circling, personalization, embedded reading, comprehension checks, starting a story, using advanced structures, point-and-pause, and going slowly. (There were some other suggestions too, but I can’t remember them.) Kristin choose personalization.

Two beautiful babies attended the meeting, so I was a little distracted by their cuteness and didn’t pay as much attention to what was going on as I might have.

Diana and I demonstrated the new Blaine technique, which seemed to segue nicely from what Kristin was doing in personalization. Something that I hadn’t really gotten until she was moving from the student to the class was that proximity is crucial in setting up the time difference. When the teacher is talking to the individual student, it’s present tense. Then the teacher moves away from that student and toward the class and speaks in past tense. I understood about the tenses, but until I watched Diana move, I didn’t really get how that movement in effect leaves the action in the past. Very subtle, but much more clear than how I’ve been doing it.

The other thing that I didn’t “hear” until yesterday was that the teacher picks a superstar kid to be in the front of the room because that kid is going to have to be doing output. I’ve lucked out a couple of times and picked superstar kids, but I’ve also picked some barometer kids, and it’s asking too much for them to have to understand and do output at the same time.

I’m feeling very lucky as usual to have such an awesome group of fellow teachers who work together. Martina and I talked a little bit about how safe and yet inspiring it is to have this group that does positive teacher talk and shares ideas to get better. Where else can we practice teaching without fear? In fact, is there any other forum in which teachers practice teaching or share their methods when they’re not either presenting, doing student teaching, or doing an interview?

CI teachers are AWESOME!!

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