Teri’s Take on the Agen Workshop 2014

Teri Wiechart, our coach of all coaches, recently sent in this description of the workshop.

When my friend Bryce Hedstrom asked me to explain what the conference in Agen was like, it gave me a chance to verbalize what makes the Agen workshop so special.

This week has so many layers of instruction in teaching with Comprehensible Input. It starts with us getting to know one another—building relationships—that carry through the week and beyond.  In a setting with 25-45 people, it is possible to connect with each one of the participants.

We start the instruction with an explanation and demonstration of the three basic steps. Daniel Dubois will teach Breton to the participants as I give a brief overview of what he is doing. It is a very powerful way to show participants new to this way of teaching, how effective it can be.

Each morning we start with lessons in beginning English with Tamara Galvan (an amazing CI teacher, who ranks up with the best of the best demonstration teachers), intermediate English with Judy Dubois (a very experienced and insightful teacher, and our leader), and French with Sabrina Sebban-Janczak (a native Française, who speaks in an easy comprehensible French and who understands teaching with CI to her core). The teacher-participants observe as these three women work their magic with real students learning the aforementioned languages. The participants are welcome to stay in one class all week or move around, as they wish. At the end of the lesson, the participants, who so choose, are able to practice a skill with the students, under the guidance of a coach. Participants are able to practice story asking, PQA, comprehension checks, or any other skill they wish. At the end of the morning, the teacher, participants and coach will have time for debriefing the experience while it is still fresh in their minds.

Sabrina Sebban-Janczak Agen
Learning French with Sabrina Sebban-Janczak during the 2014 Agen Workshop

Remembering that we are in France, we then have a 2 ½ hour break, for lunch, private reflection, and/or small group discussion about teaching, etc. There are many wonderful restaurants within walking distance of the conference hotel. Participants are encouraged to join small groups and explore the area and enjoy each other. Coaches and leaders will return to the hotel for time for “Teacher Talk” for those who wish.

Afternoons will be filled with a variety of sessions on all sorts of topics that are important to learning how to teach with CI or how to improve, for those who are more experienced. To date, the choices are continuing with Breton lessons with Daniel, understanding Stephen Krashen’s hypotheses, activities for teaching young students, Teaching Students with Disabilities, Other CI Activities, Using TPR, Classroom Management, Reading, and others.

We come away with a feeling that “we are all in this together” and it is such an effective, fun way to teach. We have participants who will have been to all three conferences and others who are coming back for a second go-round.

There are so many levels of instruction:
· Experiential as a student.
· Observational as a teacher.
· Participatory as a teacher with the guidance of a coach.
· Analytical of the research and philosophical foundations of CI.
· Practical with specific “how-to” sessions.

It isn’t absolutely necessary to speak French, but it helps. It is necessary to understand English, as most of our presentations are in English. We welcome teachers of any language.

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