Today I had the pleasure of spending a few hours with Blaine Ray. I never tire of observing a true master teacher, and truthfully I suspect that I have not always been ready to learn from him. Yet these days what impresses me most is the call to simplify, to focus on high-frequency structures, and to repeat those basic structures until the flow of communication between student and teacher is confident, accurate and without hesitation. Perhaps it is the AP monster that I am currently teaching that makes me appreciate these basic principles. When I see errors on my students quick writes it is certainly because I have moved on when my students merely understand the structure, but they don´t yet exhibit the confidence, the accuracy and the lack of hesitation that is the mark of mastery. Today Blaine reminded me that I need to bring in more parallel characters, have more actors so that we can make more comparisons and, most importantly, so that students hear more repetitions of the target structures.
A few quotes that I wrote down:
On the essential role of a TPRS teacher:
I don´t teach rules, I just teach them to answer my questions.
My job is not to get students to figure it out, my job is to make them fast processors. If they don´t understand then write it on the board.
On how getting to the end of the story is not the purpose of a TPRS teacher:
I have a major bias towards going back in time (in the middle of a story to explain why a detail is the way it is), because going forward finishes the story… and I don´t want to finish the story!!!
On the few kids who process the language faster than everyone else:
Teach the fast processors to blend in and not beat the class in a choral response
And finally, on the role of hidden props:
I´ve got to get rid of this cow in my pocket.