I was thinking for a while that I’d lost the TPRS magic. I have strong CI skills, but I used to soar to school, even on rainy days, wondering what my kids would come up with next. I’m going to skip telling you how busy I’ve been (with stuff I love to do) and not whine about ongoing computer issues that have taken up time that I already didn’t have.
Stories had not been happening well. Yesterday, one of my kids complained that I haven’t been getting actors up in class, and another student mentioned that I used to use props a whole lot more. We were working on “tries to” and “allows him,” but I hadn’t really come up with a story. The kids said that we should do a one-word story. (That’s what happens when I teach the kids the “theory,” I guess.) They said it would be easy.
Right away, the class made up a guy named Bill. The kid who said I hadn’t used props explained that Bill was trying to fly with Tinkerbell. Up popped a hockey player, volunteering to be Tinkerbell. He must have been in collusion with the other, because they immediately got him dressed in a set of wings that was sitting on the easel. Laughter ensued, and the story managed to flow relatively coherently from the word “tries to,” later picking up details from the class the day before. I could hardly wait to type up the story after class.
Today, I remembered that new kids need to understand the method behind the madness, and told my first years about how I usually have a story in my mind and that they need to improve it or get mine. Someone was talking about working, and we jumped on that, but changed the student’s work location. We added her favorite musical group to work with her, and when I saw the boy behind her look as though he was going to gag, I invented an animal for him who wanted to go to the store for that musical group. The kids chose the animal and an alternate location for his favorite group; I tried meanwhile to capitalize on their interests and get in a lot of repetitions.
I realized that I’d stopped paying attention to the kids somehow, in order to follow my “curriculum.” I forgot that students have passions, that they’re creative, and I just have to tune in to them. I can’t be always pushing from behind. The stories and activities need to flow instead of being directed like an etch-a-sketch. I can’t believe how much fun classes suddenly are, now that I’m taking the time to listen to kids again. Being in the moment turns out to be a brilliant teaching technique.