Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Being a Student and the Importance of Pause and Point

Note: This is a series of posts about my takeaways from the NTPRS2016 conference.  It was life changing and teacher-affirming.

Conferences can be overwhelming.  TPRS can be overwhelming.  How do you even begin?  New people, new ideas, hotel rooms, whirlwind schedule, and more.

A few years ago, I presented at a National Safe Routes to School Conference on teaching bike safety to kids.  I had never been to a conference before and a wise colleague of mine suggested that I try to get one great aha moment out of the conference and just enjoy myself the rest of the time.  Good advice.

At NTPRS2016 I got a lot more than one great aha moment, but I also decided to focus on one discreet TPRS skill for myself.  I attended three coaching sessions as a teacher and several others as a student or observer, and tried to really pay attention to how the skill was used.

The skill: Go Slow.  (Corollary to Pause and Point).
Why: So many others have written about why we should go can I add to their brilliance?
Suffice it to say that taking Japanese with the incredibly talented Betsy Paskvan after a full day of conferencing was challenging.  And I am a fast processor!  Her speed (or lack thereof) really supported me and made me feel confident.  I also noticed that when she sped up and I couldn't understand something I got really anxious.  It was a great lesson for me about why going slow makes a huge difference.

In coaching, I found myself starting slow and then getting really excited (because let's face it, I LOVE teaching with TPRS and want to do it all, right now) and going too fast.  Slowing down, focusing on one structure, and using the time to walk over and POINT to the written word all helped my "students" feel encouraged.  Let me say that again:  for me, using the time to walk over to the board/poster/sign and POINT to the written word was a game changer for me.

Let's see if I can put it into practice now!
Diego is my mental image for GO SLOW.  He only has one speed: dignified, slow, and with penchant for belly rubs.

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