This summer I was with Annabelle Allen and Jon Cowart at the Cascadia CI Conference, and we had a big high-fives-all-round moment when we realized that we were all home-grown CI teachers, in that we haven’t ever used the textbook or taught traditional. We were so happy to find others who started the CI journey right out the gate. And a journey it is!
Stage One. OMG! OMG! OMG! OMG! I learned some French at that demo and it changed my life – I laughed, I cried, the story was SOOOO CUTE and funny and I want to teach everyone, all the time, everywhere, ALL THE THINGS! You get input! You get input! Everyone gets input! I am so excited, I think I just farted a rainbow! I CAN’T WAIT FOR MONDAY MORNING! Why is it only Saturday night? Go AWAY, weekend!
Stage Two. I TALKED TO MY CLASS IN SPANISH…AND IT WAS INSANE UP IN THERE! So, I ran back to my room and I talked in the language cause they told me at the workshop to just talk to the kids, they told me that acquisition was the kids making meaning out of sounds, they said it is an unconscious process and the human brain is a beautiful thing and we naturally acquire the language when we comprehend messages, and I am an educated person, I get that, and also the FRENCH I acquired, I can still say “Le burrito géant est plus riche que Bill Gates”! So I talked to them, and I said a lot of things, and I wrote a lot of things on the board, and I had kids get up to act, I know they said not to do that till a few months of CI, but it was SOOOOO FUN in the workshop, so I figured just a teensy-weeny bit of acting, what could go wrong, right? So then I look up and Susie is smacking Johnny, and Bobby is passing notes to Frenchie, and Sally is sleeping and Billy is eating and I don’t even know WHERE Larry was cause Larry went to the bathroom and I was so caught up in the story that I didn’t notice till the end of the period that my hall pass had never come back and neither had Larry. This sure looked easy at the workshop! I wanna do this, but what am I doing wrong? And WHERE IS LARRY???
Stage Three. No, these big dark circles under my eyes are not from mainlining heroin. I was up till 4:36 AM last night. Mainlining blogs. Have you written anything in the last twelve years about CI? I prolly read it last night! Chase Manhattan bank is prolly gon put a freeze on my credit card, cause I think I just maxed that sucker out buying teacher books and webinars and I think I just ordered everything Ben Slavic ever wrote. Even the ones he said were outdated. And don’t even get me started on that Martina Bex! that woman was, hand to God, sent to this earth by ANGELS just to help ME! I never knew there was so much to buy! And there is so much FREE STUFF too! I think I joined like eight Facebook groups and followed fifty people on Twitter and read like eighteen blogs. Not blog posts. BLOGS. Like, as in, the WHOLE BLOG. And also those Brain Breaks. Annabelle Allen is, I swear, truly a unicorn in human form. At 4:35 I looked up from her video about Rock, Paper, Scissors with your feet (I swear, don’t that just BEAT ALL? So fun!) an I was like, OMG girl, GET TO BED cause even if you take the car to work and skip flossing, you will only have time for two and a half hours of sleep! I go to bed and then of course I lie there planning out the day tomorrow. So anyways, I got like one hour of sleep. But it’s ALLLLL GOOD! I got this! I have SOOOOO many IDEAS! Where’s the coffee? I am raring to go, I HAVE SO MANY IDEAS, but I could use just a teensy-weeny little cuppa. Or three. Also, where is my hall pass? And I hope that little Larry is OK.
Stage Four. So, Larry came back. Sans hall pass but that’s the least of my problems. Today was utter HELL. I was so tired, but the quadruple-shot Dutch Bros really helped, FOR LIKE TEN MINUTES. By fourth period I was DONE. I swear I almost pulled the textbooks out. But I willed myself to stay strong. Mama told me there’d be days like this. OK, breathe, they told me in grad school to be a REFLECTIVE practitioner. After I finish this margarita Imma reflect the hell outta this one. OK, so I had no lack of ideas. And I had a good lesson plan. I mean, we were going to start with Calendar Talk, and I had five new Brain Breaks planned, or are they Brain Bursts, whatever, I was freakin prepared. And then I planned to Write and Discuss, then a One Word Image, then another Write and Discuss. And a Running Dictation, then I had this reading from Martina’s website on baseball in the DR. And then at the end of class I was going to teach them the password for the week and have them fill in this metacognitive survey and explain the Interpersonal Skills Rubric to them, and have their parents sign it. And if time permitted, I was planning to do some book talks. Yeah, the books haven;t arrived yet, but I was planning to use color printouts of the covers and pretend like they were here. As I sip this margarita and reflect, I think maybe I had a little too much to cover?
Stage Five. Pacing myself here. I have limited my online time to just five hours a night. By two AM I have a STRICT no-internet policy. I just take Look I Can Talk to bed and read, you know, to decompress. And on the weekends I limit myself to just ten hours a day. Gotta spend some time with my family, sure. I kinda forgot to do laundry this weekend, but I still have two pairs of underwear and I ordered another pack of panties offa Amazon Prime Now, and so they should be delivered to the school before lunch. I am also trying to pace myself in the classroom and only plan for a couple of activities a day. I am also trying to pace myself with my talking so I take deep breaths and speak slower. I think I can, I think I can.
Stage Six. My family started a Twitter account to communicate with me. So that is when I decided to limit myself to three hours a night and I am trying this thing where I take a day off on the weekends. Cause in that one month I spent like $260 on new undies for the family, and now we can’t fit all the clean underpanties in the drawers. Gotta go do that parenting thing more. I am not tryna raise free-range children. My spouse is starting to send me sulky tweets regarding household chores.
And I think the dog forgot my name. I am a little bit worried about limiting my online time cause I feel like if I start that blog I wanna start, I won’t have time to follow OTHER PEOPLE’S blogs. But I have learned SO MUCH in the last months, should’t I be documenting the journey? Should’t I be sharing? Should;t I plan a presentation for my colleagues? No, for my state organization, NO FOR iFLT!!! I mean, I feel like I have a good handle on a few go-to strategies and routines. And I have a few favorite Brain Breaks that the kids like, and I am getting some kinda handle on classroom management, and I am teaching to their eyes and they did their first freewrite and THEY ARE SO GOOD! I wanna spread CI to everyone, everywhere, all the time! Well, not when I ought to be washing underwear. There is SO MUCH of it now.
Stage Seven. I made a presentation to my colleagues at inservice! And they looked at me like I was crazy! Except Marisol! Marisol emailed me later to say she was going to look at my “List of 375 CI Websites and Resources” I handed out! And my kids, well, they do not put their heads down anymore. I have a good variety of activities we can do, and I breathe in the classroom, and I do not really need to take work home, and, BLESSED BE, I have stopped planning! Sometimes I go days without looking for activities online. On Facebook I can now answer others’ questions. And I am writing a proposal for my state conference! Wish me luck!
Stage Eight. I need a part-time job to fund my travel to conferences. But other than that, life is good! Seriously, I am thinking about doing after-school classes, which WOULD help me to get to all the conferences. Cause I want to be REAL-LIFE friends with all my INTERNET friends!
Stage Nine: Like Edward turned Bella, I have turned two colleagues! Marisol and Kelly! We do Happy Hour, Saturdays, we are going to iFLT together this summer, and rooming together, we rode up to Ellensburg to take a workshop together, we might start a blog together, I would honestly MOVE IN with them if I could. I have real-life friends AND internet friends too! I had my first back to school night where I explained CI to the parents, and I didn’t feel too nervous. I feel confident and calm in the classroom and outside. And I think my dog remembers my name now.
Stage Ten: TBD, I am not sure if anyone has achieved Stage Ten. Scientists are still debating its existence.