After going to Agen, France this summer to participate in the week long TPRS workshop (can we rename this to thinkshop or something like that, because it certainly made me think, but it never felt like work) my head was buzzing for weeks, it still has not stopped. The post “I don’t hate French anymore” was the immediate result of this. Now, a few weeks later, I am back in school and once again, I find myself reflecting on what I have learned.
I have always taught using TPRS (asides from about 2 frustrated weeks in my first year and another couple weeks in my first ES year). The methodology spoke to me like nothing else did, simply because it created a classroom environment that I would have loved as a student. My mentor, Eva Kaufmann, who introduced me to TPRS during my student observations had such engaged kids, it amazed me. I mean, these German threes came into class, immediately switching to German and reading Harry Potter in German in their spare time. Whaaat? That’s how I improved my English AFTER school (Disney movies in English and YA books is where it’s at!) and here these 15/16 year olds have it all figured out. She also had a student, who was in the lifeskill program, who loved her class and had learned, excuse me, ACQUIRED so much! So yes, I knew right away, this was for me and I just jumped in. I never had any training asides from observing Eva and reading the “green bible.” I bought Michael Miller’s Sabine und Michael curriculum and off I was.
This summer marked my first ever workshop for TPRS. After joining several Facebook groups and participating in Google hangouts with the lovely Tina Hagaden from Portland, this was the first time I met a whole group of TPRS/CI teachers in person. The support online is strong, but meeting face to face and listening and talking with all these amazing human beings, who are so willing to share and collaborate was so much more powerful than I could have imagined. I received valuable feedback on my coaching sessions (which were SO hard for me to even participate in, I’m so not an extrovert and I really don’t like being put on the spot in front of a bunch of people - though I am happy with my kids - head case!) from Anny Ewing, Laurie Clarcq and Robert Harrell. My favorite comment was probably that I have “dance like movements.” Who wouldn’t LOVE to hear that?? Natxo Castillo, who teaches Spanish in England, worked with me on figuring things out in our own little coaching session with Laurie. We switched off and on between being the teacher and the student to get our ideas out there. That evil shoe drawing got a lot of action!
Working with Tina Hagaden (finally in person, rather than online) and Ben Slavic in the war room, hashing out new ideas, drawing class pictures whilst drinking French wine and enjoying the company was probably my favorite part of the conference. None of it felt like work, all of it felt enriching and fun.
So after all this input I have received for a week, every day from about 8:30 to often 1:30 at night, I went home and had to make sense of everything in order to use all the new ideas in my classroom. And after one day with my kids, I can say this with confidence: You all made me a better teacher.
And here is why:
All of this made for a great first day where even though the classes are 15 minutes longer this school year, the time went by quickly and pleasantly. So, thank you Judith Dubois for arranging this Thinkshop and therefore making me a better teacher. How I would have loved to stay another day, just to get the chance to have more conversations with everyone. I am hoping to be back next year, there is so much more I need to listen to and exchange about.