Monthly Archives: October 2009

What was I thinking?!

Today, I had a story about a dog that was swimming in a fountain. To my surprise, I had students volunteer to be the dog. For most of the students this was great and I even had them on the floor [we have new carpet, by the way] swiming like Michael Phelps.

Well, my last period I had a girl voluteer to be the dog. This was her first time volunteering and what did I do? Did I play it safe and ease her in? Did I make it a safe experience so she will want to act again? Oh no. I had her on the floor swimming like all the other classes. After it happened, I realized what I had done and I wasn’t mad at myself, but I had the reaction of, “What was I thinking!? Wake up! You can’t do that to certain students. When are you going to learn that not everyone is as crazy as you are and ready jump in with two feet?”

Well, at least it was a learning experience for me and I hope that this student will want to act again. I think I am going to be a lot more careful about this stuff in the future. I have to be aware at all times of the students that I am dealing with and what will help them to feel safe  and valued in our class.

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I should be back soon…

I recently got the flu and have been out of commision. I should be back soon.

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The Sigmoid Curve of tprs

At times I have often wondered, “How far am I in the process of learning tprs?” and “How much further do I have to go?” Well, after asking several teachers I have come to find that there are no real concrete answers to these questions and everyone has their own take on it. One teacher states:

The learning process for TPRS is similar to that for other skills:  a sigmoid curve.   That is, you start off learning slowly and deliberately and keep practicing, then your skills take off after a short period of time, eventually you level off and slowly improve over time.  To get good, some teachers take 5 years, but I think you can do it faster if you are fluent and if you observe others and mimic their technique.

The first thing I wondered was, “What is a sigmoid curve?” and then “Should I feel guilty for not knowing that?” Well, either way I did what any other other self respecting American would do and looked it up on wikipedia.

veld_pic_7This is a picture of a sigmoid curve. It basically looks like an S. It fits exactly the explanation that the teacher gave on tprs development. I don’t know where I am in the curve and it really is not something I should worry about. I will know when I level out. What I do know is that I am in the growth period because I feel like I am changing so much and I am continually finding new ways to improve how I reach kids. Maybe it will always be this way, but for now it feels like a roller coaster and it can get pretty exciting. I am glad that I have chosen this for my career because every day has something new for me.

Another teacher also commented on tprs development and he said:

Don’t worry about where you are in tprs. Remeber that it is a process  that you refine as go along. It is something that you learn to do by doing, practicing, being coached, and experiencing as a student. Basically, don’t worry about where you are. You are where you are and as long as you continue to refine you will be just fine.

I found these words to be very encouraging, too. I come from a musical background and constantly expect perfection of myself. I just need to take it one step at a time. It is just like taking a walk through a garden and removing the pedals from a rose. If you try to remove a pedal from a rose before it is ready, the pedal will tear. You cannot speed up the process, you just have to let the weather elements allow it bloom. So it is with tprs. We can subject ourselves to elements of experiences, but ultimately it is something that happens over time. I am excited to see what happens and to experience the blooming process.


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A Stellar Cast

When we first start the year, how do we view our students? Much effort has been made in tprs to really welcome students and to respect them as creative individuals. I know this to be true and do my best to apply it every day. In his book, Push Back the Desks, Albert Cullum describes his view on students when they walk in for the first time. He states:

A sensitive teacher is always aware of the drama inherent in his* class. Every class contains a cast ready to play their roles in every subject matter area, and  the teacher, sensing the rhythm of his group, soon find his role too. It is not necessary for the teacher to always play the lead; frequently he  can twice as well in a supporting role. As the school year proceeds, a good teacher will realize that sitting before him, around him, or next to him is a stellar cast!

*Keep in mind that this was written at a time that “he” was used universally for men and women, so it also applies just as much to women as it does to men.

I found this to be incredibly insightful and it opened my eyes to how I view my students. Am I casting my students correctly for class? Am I paying attention to how they are as people before I put them in a certain role? These are good questions to ask because we want the right student in the right role. This will make the learning that much more powerful. With students in the right roles we will soon find that we have a stellar cast that is eagerly anticipating the next time we get together.

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