Ben Slavic posted a question from Grant on his site today that really strikes a chord with me.
I need reminders that the best way to lead others to the light is through making my own teaching better and my own students outstanding rather than being evangelical, boisterous or confrontational. I battle with this on the inside. I know I can’t force boring teachers to change, but we can’t just keep being forced out of districts by thick-headed status quo mongers. A lot of TPRSers I know have this lonewolf facade that they’ve developed to counter the criticism and that seems to detract from TPRS’ credibility somehow. I think we need more Pams to help show beginning teachers the possibilities. Do you have any good anecdotes that will help me dissipate my frustrations during department meetings?
What Grant has written is so important because somewhere along the way we are going to have to work or visit with people that have: never heard of tprs, worked with tprs and don’t like it, may be open to tprs and need more information, have heard of tprs but don’t really know what it is, or any other combination of experiences that I haven’t mentioned. What do we do with people like this?
Well, how we work with these people may be a factor in the future and success of tprs. I was thinking today while I was I asking a story with my 7th graders that this is such a cool way to teach. I mean, how many teachers can successfully do what we do and have fun at the same time? Wouldn’t it be great if this was the way that languages were taught in our country? Could you imagine what the developments would be? That is why it is so important that we deal with our colleagues in a possitive way. Below is the response that I sent to Grant. It’s not the total answer, but it’s a start.
This is such a great question! People in the past have mentioned the book How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie as a good way to learn how to relate to the students. I know that this has worked for me in tremendous ways. But I think that the book can also be used to work with our colleagues, especially when they may be less than excited to hear about tprs. We don’t have to be a lone wolf and if we ever expect people to change, we definitely can’t afford to be a lone wolf. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1. Remember that it is impossible to defeat an ignorant person by an argument, so it is simply just best to avoid an argument.
2. Show respect for the other person’s opinions and never tell them that they are wrong.
3. If you are wrong, admit it quickly and emphatically.
4. Begin in a friendly way.
5. Get the other person saying, “Yes.” immediately.
6. Let the other person do a great deal of the talking and simply ask them questions.
7. Let the other person feel that the idea is theirs.
8. Try to honestly see things from the other person’s point of view.
9. Be sympathetic with the other person’s ideas and desires.
10. Appeal to the nobler motives.
11. Dramatize your ideas.
12. Throw down a challenge to people who have spirit and desire to excel.
Some of this may seem kind of corny, but we are not going to win people over by constantly criticizing and picking at the flaws of them or the system they use. It doesn’t matter how right we are, we are not preparing them and making them want to search for other alternatives. If they feel that you respect them and are in working with them for increased acquisition, they will probably be a whole lot more likely to consider CI based teaching.
Some of the items from the list above will help with the smaller battles of tprs and others will be good things to keep in mind with the larger issues of tprs [ex. CI based teaching].
We need to become people that are respected in our schools for the amount of language that our excited/motivated students acquire, rather than teachers that just use weird stories to teach a language. This will help us to establish more credibility and once the ball starts rolling, we may be surprised what happens in our districts.