When I decided to write this blog post about ‘LOVE’ a few weeks ago, I had no idea that the topic would become much more relevant and meaningful than I had originally thought. My intent was solely to talk about collegiality, kindness, and love as they pertain to our community of peers, but as irony would have it, I have much more to say about ‘love’.
Love is patient; love is kind; love does not cyber-bully or berate. We all have different belief systems and we all have unique perspectives on which approach is the best for facilitating acquisition. Of course, we do! We are all teaching learners of various demographics, diverse cultures, different ages, a wide range of literacy levels, etc.
There are so many wonderful CI-based strategies and approaches from which we can draw, we should be celebrating, not hating and berating. Krashen’s Comprehension Hypothesis and Blaine Ray’s original TPRS spurred a decades-long avalanche of CI-focused inquiry and investigation. In the 90s, we celebrated Total Physical Response Storytelling, and as the century turned, we turned to Teaching Proficiency through Reading and Storytelling. Along the way, we also embraced the concept of story-asking (Jason Fritze) and embedded reading (Laurie Clarcq and Michele Whaley).
With the goal of providing CI and doing what’s best for students in mind, our community left no stone unturned in our quest to continue to make language acquisition even more accessible to learners. We discovered the power of comprehension-based readers, and we celebrated the contributions of many talented teachers (Martina Bex, Kristy Placido, Carrie Toth, Leslie Davison, Donna Tatum-Johns, Teri Wiechart, Cindy Hitz, Sharon Birch, Dustin Williamson and so many others), who taught us how to weave a rich tapestry of culture into the process.
In spite of tremendously successful approaches to facilitate acquisition, the CI community continued to search for even more options to help ALL teachers find and develop their own approach to CI-based, acquisition-driven teaching. Michele Whaley discovered MovieTalk, and we collectively learned how to refine it to meet the needs of lower-level students. We celebrated yet another option for providing CI.
More recently, Ben Slavic developed his approach using ‘Invisibles’, and Beniko Mason shared her “Story Listening” approach. As is to be expected of any unfamiliar approach, there has been much deliberation and investigation. (In my own investigation, I was able to talk with Dr. Mason directly and will share my thoughts in a subsequent post.) Unfortunately, there has also been dissention, judgment, and condemnation.
I keep scratching my head, wondering how our community got to this place. I keep analyzing what has changed to shift our focus from professional disagreement for the sake of doing what’s best for students to what seems to be disrespectful disagreement for the sake of being ‘right’? Or is it perhaps because we feel that our intellect, talent, or intuition is being threatened? Whether we are the ones advocating that other teachers try a new (or even a new-to-us) approach or we are the ones being asked to consider the new approach, our conversations will only succeed and have a positive impact on our teaching community and our students when one element is present: LOVE.
By now, you’re probably wondering why I said this week’s ‘topic’ of love is so ironic. It’s ironic because as I write this, my brother is in ICU connected to a ventilator, after a sudden catastrophic event, which stemmed from his battle with cancer. I was working in New Jersey when I received the news, just hours before the big snow storm that caused 2700 flights to be canceled. At that moment, all I could think of was getting to his bedside to tell him how much I loved him. Of course, I thought about the inservice I had to cancel and the teachers I had disappointed, but in the end, love prevailed.
Miraculously (those who know me, know that I don’t use that term lightly), I was able to book a flight amid all the cancellations, and at 8a.m. was on my way to see my brother…to tell him I loved him. By the grace of God, I made it to the hospital, and for the last few days, as I listen to the ventilator breathing for him, I just keep telling him how much I love him.
The truth is, my brother KNEW I loved him, but he knew as much from my actions as from my words. You see, this wasn’t the first time that I canceled training to rush to his beside. In April of 2016, my brother, who is single, had just undergone unexpected emergency surgery for colon cancer. My sister was with him during and immediately after the surgery, but due to circumstances, was not able to stay. I was in Miami, Dominican Republic-bound, but when my brother called and said, “I would feel much better if you were here,” there was no question…love would win. I spent the next nine days in the hospital, sleeping by his bedside, holding his hand, and telling him and showing him I loved him. I spent the next two months taking care of him at his favorite place, North Twin Lake, showing him and telling him I loved him.
After several months, my brother appeared to have made a complete recovery, and life went back to (a ‘new’) normal. My brother and I had a special bond that only love could create. We didn’t agree on everything, but even in disagreement, he never doubted for a minute that I loved him–not because I told him, but because I showed him.
Amid all the pain and suffering of the world and throughout all the disagreements in our profession, I am certain of one thing: Love will prevail.
1 Corinthians 13:4-8
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. 8 Love never fails.
When I went to Biblegateway.com to copy I Corinthians 13’s love verses, ironically, you will see from the screen shot, what today’s verse was.
On February 12, 2017, Carol’s big brother Pete Keuer died surrounded by his family, in the arms of his sisters. He left a hole in their hearts…and a hole in the band…