Blog: Teaching & Dieting

diet: food and drink regularly provided or consumed”–Merriam Webster

Every year there is a new fad diet–new research, new techniques, new recommendations, a new “one weird trick”.

Yet the basic principles remain the same: exercise, eat in moderation, and drink lots of water.

Simple, right?

The teaching profession has made slower strides towards touting new ways of doing things but there has been progress. The old memorization method of “drill and kill” is now recognized as the surest way to murder any student interest in a subject. Corporal punishment and menial chores have been replaced with detentions and behavior reflection forms.

Progress, right?

Nearly one year ago I learned about the methodology of Teaching Reading through Proficiency and Storytelling. A host of new acronyms rained down upon me: CI, TL, PBL, ATFL…

Then there were all the blogs, hashtag tprs, and Twitter accounts and Pinterest boards…


Each new item led me to a rabbit hole into which I disappeared like an eager scuba diver who wants to find the bottom of the ocean.

Needless to say, I haven’t found the bottom yet.

But what I have found are…differences.

Very, very sensitive differences.

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How long should be spent in class on pop-up grammar? Should grammar be directed whole-class or only to the student who asked? Is there more than one way to ‘circle’ a story? How much time per day constitutes recreational reading? Should new information be front-loaded, and if so, how much class time should that take?

And, the heavyweight of them all: What exactly does comprehensible input look like?

The answers to all of these are inexact. It really comes down to who you ask.

And, really, be careful who you ask!

Suddenly, a concept that seemed pretty clear becomes muddy, muddier, mud.

When did the word diet become associated with losing weight?

When did the word teach become associated with losing our intellectual flexibility?

Every student is different.

Every classroom is different.

Therefore, the approaches to teaching these different students and different classrooms must be different as well.

Of course, the basic principles remain the same: have respect for students, have good classroom management, and have fun.

Having fun takes care of a lot of curriculum concerns.

A healthy diet varies for a petite woman that’s 5’1 as opposed to a lanky man of 6’4.

An engaging classroom varies depending up on who is in it.

If it is you, make it yours.

I think, really, that is the best advice.

Make your classroom and your lessons your very own.

And everything else will follow.

One comment

  1. Academic freedom may well be going the way of the dinosaur, for the very alphabet soup you describe. Because “comprehensible input” is ultimately determined by “student learning outcomes.” Chicken or the egg, right? As you hinted, there are no tangible rubrics in the shifting landscape of catch phrases, but as “outcomes” is in the financial driver’s seat, what gets those numbers will become the paradigm. That may be a bit literal and inductive in the midst of the current milieu, however the stage has been set since No Child Left Behind and the resultant teaching to standardized tests, as well as the “for profit” do-overs until you pass mentality, to place the educational system in the hands of administrators. Who are looking for a result that may or may not resemble “education” as we know it. Which will take the process out of the hands of content driven educators. Just an observation.

    Liked by 1 person

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