Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Power of Sharing Ideas

I'm currently at ACTFL in San Antonio as I write this. I have been attending some really good Comprehensible Input sessions so far. I have found myself starstruck at times, as I see so many of these CI presenters whom I greatly admire/respect (and follow on Twitter and read their blogs - gosh, I feel like a stalker!), but yet they present with such humility and are SO willing to share their ideas with others.

At my school, in my department there are many teachers who are wanting to use CI but still are unsure about it or are experimenting with it; the others are still stuck in the grammar-translation way because that is all they know, or they are holding tightly to the textbook. This is much better than a year ago, however, where I was the SOLE one using CI in the classroom and whenever I would mention anything about CI/TPRS, my department would look at me like I was from Mars

A couple months ago, on Cynthia Hitz's blog "Teaching Spanish with Comprehensible Input" (which by the way, if you do not follow it, please do - LOTS of good stuff there), she posted "15 Ways to Increase Awareness of Your Language Program and Share Your Students' Success."

At the top of the list: Willingly share materials and activitives with other language teachers at your school.

I accepted the challenge and the day after I read that post, I emailed a CI technique/strategy to my department. I did not know what to expect in terms of response - would folks appreciate it? would they think it another attempt by me to convert my department to CI? would they even read it? The response was ovewhelmingly positive, with many asking for more! I now send out something every two weeks or so to them, and I have found my department to be incredibly appreciative, especially those whom I have viewed as anti-CI teachers.

Sharing ideas is powerful. I think we forget how much of a lone-ranger mentality we can get as teachers. Sharing ideas develops community, especially in a world language department where we tend to group (and to isolate) ourselves according to language. Who would have ever thought that modern language teachers in my department would be asking me, a LATIN teacher, for CI ideas?

This confirms my view that we CI teachers cannot beat CI into folks who do not want it to use it. All I can do is use CI in my classroom, share ideas with folks (whether they accept it or not), let my results speak for me and simply leave it at that. Now that does not mean that I should not be prepared to defend my usage of CI if people ask - much like the apostle Paul says, "(i need to) be prepared in season and out of season" (I am VERY CERTAIN that Paul was not referring to CI when he wrote that!) - but I need to give permission for my non-CI colleagues to be the teachers they are at this moment. I need to follow the words of St. Francis of Assisi, "Preach [CI], and if necessary, use words.' (Again, I know that he was NOT referring to CI), and to let them come to the decision on their own, if they choose.

So much like Cynthia, I challenge you to share with your department a CI idea which has worked for you, even if they are not open to the idea of CI. Become the CI expert in your department; even if you do not feel like one or know much about Ci, at least you know of some resources where to look. You'll be surprised at the reaction. I have a Latin teacher friend in Baltimore who, after I posted Lauren Watson's Scrambled Eggs activity, immediately shared the idea with her department, and many of them used it with much success! 

Thanks to all here at ACTFL who have shared their CI knowledge with me this weekend. I plan to "pay it forward"!


  1. Does this mean you will submit a proposal to present at ACTFL in 2015?
    Imagine how many CI sessions there could be at ACTFL if more CI teachers submitted proposals.

    1. I don't know about ACTFL 2015 since it will be in San Diego, but I'm already presenting a session on CI reading strategies at SCOLT in March and have submitted a proposal to do a 3-hr CI session at the American Classical League Summer Institute (the national Latin teacher conference) in June 2015. I'm not ruling out a proposal submission though for ACTFL 2015!