By popular demand… an evening class!

FREE 1-HOUR FRENCH CONVERSATION CLASS
comprehensibly taught by Anna Gilcher, PhD

**Try out a class for free!**
Tuesday, September 26
7-8 pm
Limited spaces – Sign up here to reserve your spot
 
Your Brain Can Learn French
9223 Wendell St. – Silver Spring, MD 20901
 
Light refreshments will be provided
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French classes starting after Labor Day!

I have two adult classes beginning September 5th. Improve your French while you relax and have fun—your unconscious brain does the work. (Really!)

Both classes already have a core group enrolled and we want to be sure to have at least six students.

1. BEGINNING-ISH FRENCH
(for those who have had at least a little bit of French already–appropriate for those who have more background but are rusty)
Mondays 12-1 pm
Register here
Cost $504 for 14 classes (minimum 6 students)
2. INTERMEDIATE/ADVANCED FRENCH
(emphasis on conversation + reading and writing in a relaxed and friendly environment)
Day/time TBD — either Tuesdays 10-11 am or Wednesdays 10:15-11:15 am
Express your interest and day/time preference here
Cost $504 for 14 classes (minimum 6 students)

I’m a nationally recognized French teacher and presenter on teaching world languages. See my website: annagilcher.com

Questions? Fill out the contact form here.

I also have one homeschool class that’s looking for other participants! I’ve copied the announcement below.

High School Pre-AP French Language and Culture

M/W 8-9:30 am at Panera on Tech Rd. in Silver Spring

Students will improve their French linguistic, cultural, and literary proficiency in a relaxed and fun environment. Dr. Anna Gilcher is a nationally known French teacher and teacher trainer who has been an AP French exam grader since 2014.

 

This class is a go! It already has one enthusiastic student and we are looking for at least one other student to join. Special rate for this class: $45/hour for up to 5 students (usually $75-$55/hour for 2-4 students) and $35/hour for 6 or more students. (Rate includes 10% discount for semester-long contract.)

Contact Anna here to register or for more information. Learn more on my website:annagilcher.com.

Cameroon update!

As many of you know, I went to Bankondji, Cameroon last August (2016) to lead a teacher training for the Aumazo tutoring program, a program designed to bring up the academic level of middle-school girls in the village to allow them to pass the high school entrance exam (I blogged about it day by day—you can go to the beginning of this blog and read upwards to learn what I was doing and my experience of it). For much of this past school year I worked with the head of the Aumazo program, Jacqueline Audigé, to support the teachers from afar. My involvement lessened in the spring, as the teachers grew more comfortable and the program was running smoothly.

 

After a whirlwind month of travel and conferences in June (the AP French reading in Cincinnati; the IGNITE conference sponsored by the Cherokee Nation in Talequah, OK; and the Comprehensible Cascadia conference in Portland, OR), I finally had the chance on Monday to sit down with Jacqueline and her son Olivier, who lives in Bafang and oversees the program on site.

 

After a tough winter in which Aumazo was confronting obstacle after obstacle, including a continued lack of regular funding, I was delighted to hear several pieces of extremely good news:

  1. Six girls in the village who took the BEPC (Brevet d’études du premier cycle), the high school entrance exam, passed. Of these six girls, five were in our tutoring program. (Last year, only three passed.)
  2. After a ten-year wait, Aumazo has finally received the ministerial decree giving official authorization to open the Aumazo high school.
  3. A funder has committed to raise the $11,000 needed to bring water to the school site, which will enable Aumazo to build the sanitation facilities needed to start using the one building that has already been built. Together with the official authorization that Aumazo received, this means that the Aumazo school will be able to open in September 2018.
  4. The tutoring program will operate for one more year as a continued bridge program as we await the school’s opening. The teachers that I trained last year will continue to run the program.
  5. Jacqueline plans to have me back in Cameroon next summer to train the teachers for the school as it opens. As much as I would have liked to be back this summer to do a follow-up training for the tutoring program, I agree that the money is better spent concentrating on the school itself. The tutoring program is only a bridge program as we awaited the paperwork and funding to make the school a reality.

 

Today, July 12th, is a Global Giving matching day. Please consider donating now—starting at 9 am EDT. Donations will be matched at 50%. The money will run out quickly, so the earlier you donate, the better chance you have to have your donation increased. You can donate here.

IGNITE and Comprehensible Cascadia!

Rachelle and I will be core staff at two brand-new CI conferences this month: IGNITE and Comprehensible Cascadia!

IGNITE (June 19-21) is the first-ever CI language conference for teachers of Indigenous languages here in the US. It stands for Indigenous Gathering of Native language Instructional Techniques for Educators. A few months ago, Wade Blevins of the Cherokee Nation’s Education Department asked Tina Hargaden and Ben Slavic to help him form a team of trainers, and we are truly privileged to be heading to Oklahoma with some amazing people, including ACTFL Teacher-of-the-Year nominee Darcy Pippins, and blogger and teacher extraordinaire Mike Peto.

Comprehensible Cascadia (June 26-28) is the first-ever CI conference with an emphasis on EQUITY and on non-targeted instruction. The team of trainers at this conference is thrilling: Ben Slavic, Tina Hargaden, Mike Peto, Wade Blevins, Fadi Abughoush,Annabelle Allen, Jon Cowart, Haydee Taylor-Arnold, Elissa McLean, and Janet Kyung.

At Comprehensible Cascadia, you can participate in a beginning language class for Cherokee, Arabic, or Korean (while watching coaching happen in real time), observe real kids learning Spanish or French, and learn how to make your teaching EASIER and MORE EQUITABLE.

I’ll be teaching French to a group of intermediate/advanced-level secondary students while conference participants observe; Rachelle and I will be leading a three-hour workshop “Multilingual ≠ Multicultural: Challenging Assumptions in the World Language Classroom”; and Rachelle will be giving a workshop on teaching culture without stereotyping. Rachelle will also be on the equity roundtables and the coaching team. See the full schedule here. It’s a smaller conference than iFLT or NTPRS and a great opportunity to really dive in deep and be at the forefront of justice work in language classes.

Rachelle and I will also be presenting at NTPRS in July, so if that’s where you’re headed, we look forward to seeing you there.

Upcoming Professional Development with Rachelle Adams and me… for summer 2017 and school year 2017-18!

Rachelle Adams and I are once again offering professional development for world language teachers on teaching with comprehensible input. Please share widely!
 
Our summer series is an intensive version of the series we offered this year: “Teaching With Comprehensible Input: The What, Why, and How” and will take place July 25-27 from 9 am – 4 pm at E.W. Stokes Community Freedom Charter School.
There will be two job-embedded school-year series in 2017-18–one for teachers new to teaching with comprehensible input (or who want to be sure they have acquired the basics), and one for those who already have experience and are looking to grow their skills.
Here is a taste of the feedback we received at the end of this year’s six-session series, “Teaching With Comprehensible Input: The What, Why, and How,” which just ended:
 
  • This program should be taught in every school that offers [a] world language program.
  • CI [Comprehensible Input] gives you a more holistic approach… [it] appeal[s] to the heart and the intellect.
  • [I learned that] as language teachers we are the front lines of multiculturalism, and we need to take on that role with our students, parents, colleagues, and administration.
  • I have seen my students becoming more risk takers.
  • I love that both of you have very different styles and you both work well together. This helps different types of learners (and teachers) to connect to your sessions!
  • Thank you for your amazing energy and positive feedback every time.
  • I loved it. I felt very comfortable. The sessions were well-planned and [well]-structure[d].

Please don’t hesitate to email me with any questions – anna.gilcher@gmail.com.

We will be capping registration at 30 in each cohort. We have kept the price low in order to facilitate several teachers from the same schools participating. We have found that the most effective shifts happen in schools where several teachers from the same department attend professional development together.

 
We look forward to seeing you soon!
******************************************************

Teaching with Comprehensible Input: The Why, What, and How

SUMMER INTENSIVE

July 25-27, 2017 from 9:00am-4:00 pm

$425

Three full days of training + 1 school visit (Sept/Oct 2017): classroom observation (onsite or virtual) and personalized coaching session

Location: Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Charter School; 3700 Oakview Terrace, NE; Washington, DC 20017

Teaching with Comprehensible Input: The Why, What, and How

Six-session job-embedded professional development series + 1 school visit for classroom observation and personalized coaching session

Six Saturdays from 9:00am-12:00pm 11/18/17, 12/9/17, 1/20/18, 2/10/18, 3/10/18 + 5/12/18 for final reflection

Total cost: $425

Location: Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Charter School; 3700 Oakview Terrace, NE; Washington, DC 20017

NEW! Teaching with Comprehensible Input: Taking Your Skills to the Next Level

Six-session job-embedded professional development series + 1 school visit for classroom observation and personalized coaching session

Six Saturdays from 1:00pm-4:00pm 11/18/17, 12/9/17, 1/20/18, 2/10/18, 3/10/18, 5/12/18

Total cost: $425

Location: Elsie Whitlow Stokes Community Freedom Charter School; 3700 Oakview Terrace, NE; Washington, DC 20017

 

→ for more info about me (Anna Gilcher, PhD) go to www.annagilcher.com

→ for more info about Rachelle Adams, go to www.elevateeducationconsulting.com

Who Are You? or The Sacred Journey of Being De-centered

What follows is the text of a sermon I preached at Seekers Church this morning, 3/26/17. It provides (finally) something of a report on my time in Vancouver a month ago. The biblical text is John 9:1-41. (Quotations within the sermon come from the Inclusive Bible, an egalitarian translation not available online.)

The sermon began with the experiential activity outlined below. 

“Who are you?” activity:

  1. Find a partner
    1. one minute each — one person asks “who are you?” the other answers. “Who are you?” is repeated after every statement.
    2. switch roles
  2. new partner
    1. same instructions– but no role or responsibility (no professional, no caretaker, sister/daughter/mother)
  3. new partner
    1. not allowed to use anything they’ve used before in the other two minutes
    2. switch roles

Silent reflection: what did you notice?


My dear friend and work partner Rachelle Adams and I were invited to Vancouver last month to make a presentation to teachers on diversity and identity, and on how illuminating our own identity is a necessary step to cross-cultural dialogue and reconciliation.

British Columbia has recently redesigned its curriculum with two broad and drastic changes: the infusion of Indigenous ways of knowing on the one hand, and three Core Competencies on the other (Thinking, Communicating, and Personal and Social Responsibility). The ministry of education has pushed for the infusion of Indigenous ways of knowing or pedagogy to be used across the curriculum, moving away from content-based instruction that discusses Indigenous issues to the use of Indigenous pedagogy. The personal and social core competency includes: positive personal and cultural identity, personal awareness and responsibility, and social responsibility.

We were invited to Vancouver because we had done a presentation at a language teachers’ conference last summer in Reno, Nevada entitled “Creating Diversity-Positive Language Classrooms.” Our guiding principle was: Students deserve to see positive representations of themselves and those they love… both as they are now and who they may be in the future. In our session, we presented some basics of diversity education including what are known as “the big 8 and little 4” social identifiers, and the importance of shifting from being just a multilingual classroom to being a truly multicultural classroom in which the community recognizes differences and similarities in different cultures, and supports equity and social justice for all members. (Language teachers are often given a pass on the hard work of multiculturalism because we assume that multiculturalism is inherent in multilingualism.)

(The social identifiersin US American society—are:  ability, age, ethnicity, gender, race, religion/spirituality, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status appearance, family structure, geographic region, military status)

 

One of the participants in our session, Natalia Mayor, a French and Spanish teacher from Vancouver, was deeply struck by the overlap between what we were presenting and the new pedagogy and curriculum in British Columbia, and she invited us to come to present to teachers who were wrestling with how to make this shift.

Additional context for the shift is work that is being done across Canada, both within education and outside it, to come to terms with Canada’s colonialist past and the many generations of Indigenous children who were forcibly placed in residential schools in order to solve the “Indian problem.” Over 150,000 children were stolen over the 150 years of the program. The last school in Canada did not close until 1996. There is a very powerful program called Project of Heart that is working to bring people across Canada the knowledge of this history, which has been hidden, and is working toward true reconciliation. (There is also a Canadian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. I had no idea. There is much we can learn from our neighbors to the north.)

The “Who Are You” activity we started with today was the first activity we had participants engage in before we stepped into the core of our presentation in Vancouver. It helped us hold a lived understanding of our shared humanity as we looked at and honored the real differences that exist between us.

Rachelle and I divided our presentation into four sections, which I called “points de repère,” or geographical reference points. (I couldn’t resist using French in Canada.) The title of each one comes directly from the First People’s Principles of Learning, a list of principles published by the First Nations Education Steering Committee:

  • Learning requires exploration of one’s identity.
  • Learning is embedded in memory, history, and story.
  • Learning involves recognizing that some knowledge is sacred and only shared with permission and/or in certain situations.
  • Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions.

Finally, as an overarching principle, we used “Learning is a journey that takes courage, patience, and humility,” taken from the version of the principles published by the BC Teachers Federation entitled “Indigenous Ways of Knowing.”

I want to take a moment to note that this process is taking place, not in a church such as we stand in this morning, but in public school.

There is an immense amount to say about this. But that is all I will say for now. (Let’s take a breath.)

*********

In our gospel reading today, Jesus gives sight to a man blind from birth, and many of those who are around, either to see the miracle happen or to hear about it later, find themselves exceedingly de-centered. For those on the margins, being de-centered is just the way things are. They’re not at the center, they’ve never been at the center. The closer people are to the center, however, the less accustomed they are to being de-centered… and with less practice comes great fear.

Let’s go back for a moment to the principle “Learning involves recognizing the consequences of one’s actions.” As we know, consequences are both positive and negative; consequences go beyond our own individual lifespan — there is collective trauma across generations and there is collective oppression… we suffer and profit from them both, whether we like it or not, and this was as true in Jesus’ time as it is in our own. The more privilege we carry, the more we profit from the oppression. Recognizing this as a truth is a crucial step, and from there, our work is to take responsibility: (even if) it’s not my fault, it is my responsibility.

This recognition is highly de-centering to those of us at the center, and the more social identifiers we carry that are the “default,” the less practiced we are at being de-centered.

The willingness to be de-centered is a sacred journey.

I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be de-centered as a white person, and the sacredness of being de-centered. The Pharisees in this text show exactly what it’s like to suddenly be de-centered and how fearful we become when we find our own identity at the center at stake. Without having a conscious understanding of their own identity as socially constructed and privileged by the social constructs of the day, they quickly move to close the gap to recenter themselves… without regard to the cost to others around.

Now, it is important to note that the Pharisees do not hold privilege in every aspect of society—far from it. They are living as an occupied people under the Romans. White people, too, can hold positions not at the center (I’m a woman, I’m bisexual), and in many contexts, we experience what it’s like to be at the margins. Nor are the Pharisees a monolithic group—indeed, they are “sharply divided.” In this encounter, the Pharisees hold the privilege, as we white people very often do as well, and they quickly recenter themselves and find belonging in their commonality. Who are you? “We are disciples of Moses. We have no idea where this Jesus comes from.”

How many times have I, as a white person, clung to the comfort of staying at the center?

If we take “seeing” as a metaphor for whiteness and for being at the center, it becomes clear why it is so important that we “become blind.” Jesus says: I came into this world to execute justice—to make the sightless see and the seeing blind. This is a sacred journey, and an invitation to true liberation.

Are we willing to become “blind”… so that we may actually begin to see?