I think I am finally learning how to go slowly. Or maybe, I already knew how to go slowly, and I’m finding a new level of understanding in it. Part of it is probably that I feel more comfortable with myself as a teacher and with being the odd man out in the department. But, part of it is students who are willing to be honest with me. I’m starting the second week of school now, which means I am going on lesson three (block schedule), and every day I find myself slowing down again and again. I have been using TPR with my level Is (TPR and circling with balls with level II), and one of my classes has been very slugglish in response. I was just chugging away and suddenly I heard Susie, or Ben, or some wise sage whispering in my ear that boredom means they don’t understand. I stopped then and there and asked for a show of fingers – not for how much they understood, but to see if I was going slowly enough. Man, I was getting one’s and two’s all over the place. I slowed down, got through half of what I thought I would, but at the end, there were mostly four’s and five’s (I do a count of five fingers, not ten, so this was good.)
In another class I heard somebody grumbling. It sounded like a complaint about having to do the actions all class period. So, again, I stopped. I asked the class if they felt like they were learning and if I should continue working like this, or if they would prefer a more traditional approach. A resounding reply to keep going. So, I slowed down again. I’m checking for comprehension two or three times a class period. I’m not quite in the range I am aiming for yet, and it really does feel painfully slow. I keep reminding them that I’m the only one in the room who speaks Spanish, but I keep forgetting that. I use a word ten times and I think they have it. I think I can speed up. They don’t and I can’t. A student hesitantly volunteered today, and somebody chuckled and said that I should give her “hard ones.” I stopped. I put on my concerned teacher face, and a Time Out signal to speak in English. I told them that I would never try to trick them. That I am not trying to see how much they have forgotten, or how much they didn’t learn. I told them that my job is to make learning so easy that they don’t even realize they are doing it. I don’t think I was imagining the look of relief on people’s faces, or the more relaxed atmosphere in the class. I am shocked by how little people were understanding me, even when I thought I was going slowly, and I thought I was recycling my words enough. Back to the drawing board for me!
3 days ago