Aug 14, 2009

New Teacher Orientation

I am sitting here trying to wrap my brain around what was discussed during our New Teacher Orientation this week.

Apparently, Grammar Translation and ALM "don't work anymore" and the cutting edge theory is the Monitor Theory. So, we should adjust our teaching style to reflect this. We were also asked if we had ever heard of "the Natural Approach."

I am feeling like I have been in a time warp or something. Because, I swear, that the Monitor Theory is at least twenty years old, and that the results of Grammar Translation and ALM were never very positive, so to say they "don't work anymore" is a bit hard to swallow. Cutting edge is a 20 year old theory???

And then, when I mentioned a strategy I use to lower students' affective filters on day one, they looked at me like I had three heads. I thought for sure if they were referencing the Monitor Theory and the Natural Approach, they must be at least passingly familiar with Dr. Krashen's work. But, sadly, they didn't understand what I meant with affective filter.

We have pacing guides which spell out exactly how long each lesson should take and in which order we should teach them - 1 day to establish classroom norms; 2 days to teach greetings and basic introductions; 2 days for... etc. And we MUST have a warm-up activity because kids "thrive on routines." Great. I asked if my Free Voluntary Reading time could be considered their warm-up activity. The response I got? "That sounds like a private school thing." Because, obviously, public school students can't benefit from the thing that research shows is the best indicator of language acquisition? It isn't in my curriculum and it's a little dangerous for me to use it. I wonder if I show them copies of my books, which all have Dr. Krashen's name on them, if it might make a difference? See, here is the Monitor Theory, that was Dr. Krashen 20 years ago. Here is the Natural Approach. That was Dr. Krashen too. Here is what Dr. Krashen says about reading...

One other disturbing thought for me was when we were asked to be self-reflective and ask "what if" questions of ourselves, such as "what if I were to teach the subjunctive using TPRS?" At least I know they've heard the acronym.

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