Ashley’s email

Ashley said: Today before class I got seriously nervous. Stage Fright. I’m-gonna-throw up-nervous. Why? I have had these kids before and they like my class. The kid who I thought was completely bored yesterday asked me on the way in “Are you going to talk about my name today?” and my entire being relaxed.

Reality is so hard to perceive. We talked about two girls who are cheerleaders in class. They throw another girl in the air. We found out the “flier” has fallen twice before. Another kid plays baseball and once “accidently” threw a ball that hit our principal (it was an encouraged lie). Another kid plays violent video games (touchy subject, but we went with it). The boy who asked about his name has a mini blue BMX bike that was stolen by Enrique who needed it for his chihuahua. My TPRS muscles are sore. I told myself I’d sit through the queasiness and take it. I think they’ll be sore for a while until I’m more comfortable with personalizing. They were all answering and I got an 8-10 finger response (all but three 10s) from everybody. So far so good.

So. Since I have had many of these kids before and mostly all of the vocabulary we are working they have acquired or are familiar with, do I need to include more details quicker/speak faster/anything else to encourage more energy in class? There are so many facets to this, I know I can’t pin it down to one thing. Sometimes I get on the circling bus on autopilot and don’t have the conscious wherewithall to move on when they have it! What do you do with second year personalization? Freewheelin’ it (or at least trying to…)


I said: Ashley – Reality IS so hard to perceive! THEIR reality is THEM. The kids’ first need is to be included, to be important, to CONNECT, to belong (Bob Sullo). Another of Sullo’s five needs that kids must have before they can learn is to HAVE FUN – kind of cool for us!

Tuba Man. Wow. And look how YOU reacted when he said that. Personalization is not just AN aspect of TPRS, it is, along with CI, THE aspect. You were nervous as we all are thinking that in order to teach a language we have to slay this beast of content. But it is not about content. It is about people, like the restaurant owner says to Kermit in “The Muppets Take Manhattan”.

As soon as Tuba Man said that, you relaxed. C’EST ÉVIDENT! It was never about teaching words, but connecting with people, from whence MEANING then emerged. Meaning didn’t emerge from your cleverly fashioning words into a story – it emerged from your connecting with Tuba Man.

And look how you took a bike into a blue stolen-for-a-chihuaha-by-a- friend BMX bike! So the details and the personalization were the long gusts of wind under your wings, and also you clearly went slowly enough because you got all 10’s on the comprehension checks. Awesome!

That last question about getting more energy is a good one. Personally I don’t think more energy would come from more speed. Would come from leaving circling patterns at the right time. More details might do it, each detail spiraling further into the bizarre. Also the quality of the story’s direction. What does that mean?

In post 85663 today Blaine said, “Each detail is more specific. Your lesson plans would involve planning where the story can go.” To me this means constantly anticipating the direction of the discussion, like in chess, and nudging it always closer to the land of FUNNY.

For example, this morning I had a fairly boring:

“Gabriella wants to play soccer (information here from identity cards). Goes to JB Sports, gets ball. Goes to the Summit Ridge soccer field. Plays ball.”

I was counting on good circling, pausing and pointing, SLOW, adding details by listening for cute answers, and all of that to get me into something interesting.

Not only that, I was counting on PERSONALLY CONNECTING as per Tuba Man above with the kids. Gabriella was ready to strut her soccer skills in front of the class. So at that point I was pretty ready to start a class – I had a general story line, training in doing CI, some personalized information, and I was ready to roll. Here is what came out of that this morning:

“Gabriella wants to play soccer against the teacher. Goes to JB Sports. Has short discussion in TL with employee. Gets blue and white soccer ball.” No great humor here so far. But I’m not freaking – it doesn’t always have to be funny – CI is happening.

“Goes to soccer field.” No humor yet. Big deal. But then I saw – by planning on my feet while circling/anticipating the direction of the story – that if Gabriella was going to play soccer against me in the middle part of my room where a lot of stories play out, I might as well THROW SOMETHING BIZARRE in. I just remembered that I have really been stressing what a great singer I am. I put that information into the circling and it became:

“Plays ball against the teacher. Teacher plays soccer and sings at same time, loudly and with abandon – scares student, wins.”

All I needed to get the energy flowing was one bizarre detail – I sing loudly when I play soccer. I provided it because the kids aren’t yet adept at playing the game but they are learning quickly.

So this shows that humor can inject energy into a story, and that it doesn’t have to be a constant stream of humor. One weird detail is enough, especially if it involves expressive vocal changes.



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