Lessons learned

This is my eight-year teaching and learning how to teach. Four years ago, I changed from a textbook-grammar based instruction to TCI. The first time I attempted this method I failed, I mean I bombed like a stand-up comedian who said a bad joke and nobody laughed. So what did I do? I went back to my comfort zone, the textbook. At the end of the semester, I gave my students an end of the semester survey . I was surprised when the vast majority of my students said they “really enjoyed when I told them stories and we did gestures.”

Lessons learned :

I  failed the first time I attempted TCI/TPRS but failure turned out to be a great teacher.

TCI/TPRS is effective even when it’s done poorly.

The following year, I was committed only to do TCI/TPRS, but I didn’t have the money to attend a workshop. So I googled, and I googled and then googled some more. I found Bryce Hedstrom’s website. I felt like I hit the jackpot! Bryce has so many wonderful resources some are free and some you have to buy. I spent about $15.00 that day, and I downloaded all the freebies. I used Bryce’s observation checklist to reflect on my teaching practice. (I still use it, and I gave it to my principal so he can use it during our formal observation.) Then, I clicked on all the people he follows, and I found a community of TCI practitioners willing to share lessons, materials, failures and successes.

Lessons learned:

There’s information is out there.

TCI/TPRS teachers are very generous.

 Bryce Hedstrom’s observation sheet is a great tool for beginners.

That year, I tried different activities some of those worked and some didn’t. I still made some terrible mistakes. I was telling stories to my students rather than “asking them stories” and I was also rushing my stories too much and trying to keep all the details of the stories the same. Still, my students were USING and remembering the language. I was doing this all on my own; I didn’t want anyone at school to know I wasn’t following the curriculum. Halfway through the semester, I was exhausted, but I was very happy with the results.

Lessons learned:

You will make mistakes but you will get better.

I still didn’t have any money for training. I discovered recorded lessons on youtube. In my opinion, observing teachers is what helped me to improve my TCI/TPRS teaching practice. The first video I watched was Michele Whaley teaching Russian. I have just read Ben Slavic book, but I understood circling and going slow after watching this video (I guess I,m a visual-experiential learner.) I found other videos by Susan Gross and Carol Gaab, I watched the videos, I took notes and then I tried what I learned with my class. Sometimes, I tried three different strategies all at once, and that was overwhelming to me and confusing to my students.

Lessons learned: 

YouTube allows you to observe teachers without ever leaving your classroom. 

Try one strategy at the time. 

I have to go to the Gym now, but later I will tell about the first time I met Jason Fritze.

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