Warm Fuzzies

Kristy Placido put a message out on moretprs thanking everyone and acknowledging the honor of receiving an award at NTPRS. She made it very clear that she did not want responses to her post.

This is why I like my blog. I can say what I want. Other than the moretprs Listserv, my contact with Kristy has been mainly a session of hers I went to last ACTFL. She was actually a replacement for someone else who was supposed to have presented.

As I listened to her presentation and to her responses to the audience, I thought: “This is why people need to attend conferences.” But it takes someone who can touch her listeners and draw them in to the process. That Kristy does. You can only imagine what she does in the classroom with her students.

And it is that engagement, the intriguing and even magical way in which we interact with people, be they students or colleagues, that marks a good teacher as special. We are so often buffeted by claims that all this self-esteem and personalizing and differentiating of instruction weakens the purpose of education, which is the transmission of knowledge from the knower to the ignorant. Our whole national education agenda is dedicated to this nonsense, this pernicious nonsense.

Yet sitting in Kristy’s presentation at ACTFL last November, I quelled my unnatural instincts to comment on everything she said (long-time List members will marvel at my iron discipline) and just appreciated knowing that another person, a person both bright and kind, both hard-working and compassionate (truly), a person both dedicated and insightful, could be so in sync with my own better instincts. Haven’t you ever been in a place where you would like to punish or “show” a student for being a pure hellion? It is the model of people like Kristy that keeps in our minds that there is a better way.

I remember in my counseling days the story of Virginia Satyr, a teacher of therapeutic method, who faced an entire day of demonstrating her techniques to an audience that contained a severe heckler. He was ideologically driven and serious in intent, the kind of heckler a bright person would love to put in his place.

Instead, Satyr responded to every ’heckle’ with a positive comment. All through the day. Others in the audience were volunteering to ’rub out’ this guy, but Satyr persisted. By the end of the day, he was behaving like a decent human being. Not necessarily “won over” or “converted”; that wasn’t the point. He was behaving as a decent, respectful human being who no longer felt he had to attack in order to establish himself as worthy in Satyr’s eyes.

Isn’t that what happens to a lot of our kids? They have to be aggressive in order to assert themselves. And Kristy displayed in so many ways that calm determination to respect everyone and offer whatever she had to us.

So thanks….. at least on my blog.

P.S. In googling Satyr I found this site some of you might like:


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