Friday, February 10, 2017

Raw feelings.

I wasn't sure if I was going to post this or not, but I think it might be helpful to some other people to know how I'm feeling. Maybe you feel this way too, sometimes.

leo miser vulneratus
a magistra nunc celatus
nec a pueris sat amatus :(
When I tell stories, they don't listen. When I ask stories, they don't answer. When I do PQA, they talk over me, or talk to each other in English about their answers. When they act stories, they do not act what I say. When we play games, they talk instead of playing. When we play phone games, they go on SnapChat instead. When I let them play with stuffed animals, they rip them.

They don't have homework. They don't have vocab lists to memorize. They don't have quizzes. They don't have grammar lessons. They don't have dialogues to recite. They don't have tests. All they have to do is listen, and respond, or at least stay awake. But they don't like listening, and they don't like responding, and they don't like staying awake.

They don't like stories. They don't like reading. They don’t like books. They don't like worksheets. They don't like games. They don't like myth. They don't like culture. They don't like anything I do. Why do I do it? I do not know. I really don't know right now.

Right now I don't know what to do. Or rather, I do. There is one very home point here, and that is that they don't respect me. There is only one reason they don't respect me: me. Arguably, another reason is that they do not know what respect looks like because they have precious few examples. It would help a lot if I were strong and positive enough to treat them respectfully at all times and thus set an example. I am not, not in the face of this kind of behavior for five periods a day. Even those who love me talk over me and give me attitude and ask me extremely personal questions. Those who do not love me are much worse, but it hurts less.

I have thought a lot about some solutions to this. It's also worth saying that this is probably a minority of students. In my next post I'll talk about some of my potential solutions, but for right now I just want to say this: teaching is hard. A lot of the time online it looks like CI classrooms are all perfect wonderlands of happy little children who love learning. They're not. Everyone has hard days, weeks, or months, even the veterans. Keep it up, as much as you can, and forgive yourself when you can't. You're not alone.


  1. I am so sorry that you are facing such challenges in your classroom, in spite of all of the knowledge and love that you bring to them. I can only say that your presence in the room, showing up every day, is a very powerful gift, something that many adults in these kids' lives don't provide them with. Laurie has a personal mantra to say to yourself when dealing with students: "I am here, I am glad you are here, I decide what we are doing." This is easy to say, not so easy to do. Every class requires that we handle these three steps differently. Laurie is going through a similar situation, in that she has to start over in a new state, with new students who do not know her. Her very raw reflections may be of some consolation and help to you. You are doing more for them than you know, and that's where to begin each day.
    Bonam fortunam!

  2. Thank you for posting this. I'm going through a lot of the same experiences and feelings right now, almost word for word(especially the personal questions!), and it's really bringing me down lately. And t7here have been days when the only learning activity I can come up with for a class is to "do excerice A, hand in when done." I've known so many people in my life who've unimaginable patience with me when I have absolutely none for myself, and this has given me hope. My heart goes out to you!

    1. "And t7here have been days when the only learning activity I can come up with for a class is to "do excerice A, hand in when done." And you know what? Good for you. That's a solution. It doesn't make you bad teacher or a bad CI-proponent. It's the best YOU can do on that particular day, and no one can ask you for more than your best. When you have to do that, forgive yourself. In the end, what matters is you and your students, not what some imaginary third party judging you might think. So long as they're learning and you're working, no one really gives a damn what you do. Embrace that and keep doing your best, even when it doesn't feel very good.

    2. Hi Ellie, getting to this post a few months late but it was very powerful and I felt compelled to reply. You are a gift to the students - there's no doubt about that! I have come to enjoy your blog and its simplicity, honesty, and helpfulness. I know this may sound like the OPPOSITE of good advice, but I'm going to say it anyway: if it's too much for us, we should stop teaching. I HATE THAT I HAVE TO SAY THAT. I'm almost ashamed. But, after 11 years, I sometimes think that there are forces way, way beyond our control that are creating kids incapable of feeling our love, kindness, care, expertise, etc. This is arguably not their fault - but it sure as hell isn't our fault either! Maybe one of the ways "the system/culture/world" will get better is when awesome teachers like yourself say "no mas" to this insanity. Teachers used to be, at the very least, "respected" on a human to human level. Now, not so much. Last thing: what pains me the most is that CI is SO AMAZING AND GAME CHANGING. What a shame that its rise is contemporaneous with the types of things you are dealing with. Anyway, THANK YOU FOR WHAT YOU DO.