DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATIONAL STUDIES
Dr. Ava Belisle-Chatterjee, Chair of the Department of Educational Studies, invited me to conduct a two day training workshop for the department's graduate students and faculty. It was a wonderful return to the college where I spent 18 years teaching oral and written acquisition of network standard English to Radio students who wanted to be on-air talent.
This workshop focused on training future teachers to do the same for their future nonstandard English-speaking students. We had a challenging and successful presentation - the students were participatory, enthusiastic and extremely insightful! Dr. Chatterjee was not only gracious but also committed to our linguistic premise and systematic method. In addition, she and I are excited about the possibility of making this training workshop an annual two-day event within the department's curriculum.
The prospect of each of those young attendee-students now equipped to linguistically and systematically enable all of their future nonstandard English-speaking students to speak, write, read and test in standard English is exciting, and is the main reason why I have switched my focus to training future teachers. Teach one future teacher and you've indirectly taught thousands of youngsters!
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WEST CONTRA CONSTA UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Coronado Elementary School
King Elementary School
Peres Elementary School
Stege Elementary School
Verde Elementary School
A couple of years after I presented a Different, Not Deficient Seminar to the WCCUSD faculty and administrative staff, Darlene Moultrie (Administrator of the Standard English Program) and I started talking about a workshop that would focus on classroom demonstrations with the students, while teachers and administrators observed.
This plan involved tremendous flexability on the part of the teachers and administrators, not to mention Darlene's committment to realizing the plan.
We devised an amazing workshop, whereby I spent one school week - five full school days - in the district. Each day was spent at one of the above-listed elementary schools. Each morning, before classes, the faculty of the school I was visiting met with me to discuss the method, the materials and the logistics.
About 30 minutes after the first morning bell - and the teachers and children had a chance to settle in - I worked with the first class, which always represented the youngest children - Kindergartners or 1st or 2nd graders. While the full time K-2 teachers and administrators observed, substitute teachers stayed with the children who were not working with me.
Then, when I moved to another classroom, and the observing teachers returned to their students, the substitutes moved to the next group of classes whose teachers would be observing the next demonstration.
We then worked with 3rd and 4th graders, and finally, the 5th and 6th graders. Because these were elementary school children, I used the
SchoolTalk / FriendTalk scripted lessons from the Teach Standard, Too teacher's manual to demonstrate the manual's 5-step bi-dialectic method for teaching situational mastery of oral and written standard English.
I spent a shorter amount of time with the younger children - around 40 minutes - and longer times with the older children - between and 60 and 90 minutes. The school district's visual arts expert video-taped the whole week. Needless to say, we have some wonderful - and hilarious - moments saved for posterity! I often use these clips during my training workshops because they are so authentic and revealing ... showing the successes and failures experienced by every teacher, as well as how much the children learned and enjoyed the lessons!
After school, the faculty and I met and discussed what we experienced and observed ... it was a good chance for me to hear feedback as well as questions, concerns and enthusiasm.
Darlene, and the rest of the staff, had worked so hard and had planned the week, perfectly. The faculty was so cooperative! As complicated as it may have appeared, the entire week went off without a hitch! My understanding is that the school district is still using the materials and methodology.
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NATIONAL COLLEGE OF EDUCATION
NATIONAL LOUIS UNIVERSITY
Each quarter that the workshop fills, I conduct a two-day workshop for practicing teachers, graduate students who want to teach K-12, and students who are taking the course as an elective for credit as they work towards their degrees in bi-lingual education.
Current teachers, who attend this class, can earn CEU credits.
The following appears in the NLU catalog:
TEACHING STANDARD ENGLISH AS A SECOND DIALECT:
This interactive workshop's goal is to train educators to help nonstandard English-speaking children and adults recognize and honor the value of their spoken dialects, examine the linguistic regularities of their dialects and compare them with standard English, practice and use SE structural features in speaking and writing, make desions about "situational dialect switching," and learn appropriate self-monitoring techniques for choosing standard or nonstandard dialect in different circumstances. The workshop's techniques can be applied to working with students at any age level.
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AVALON GARDENS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
LOS ANGELES UNIFIED SCHOOL DISTRICT
Los Angeles, CA
I'm not going to repeat everything re this school's workshop. At the beginning of this page, you can read all about how, after the two-day workshop, the teachers used the SchoolTalk / FriendTalk lessons and the students increased their standardized scores by 30 percentile points.
I do want to mention, however, that when the principal and I were designing the structure of this workshop, she wisely opted for the second day's afternoon session as being a time for focusing on the faculty as standard English speech models for their students. As a result of that decision, we showed the faculty how to identify any dialectal pronunciation and/or grammatical differences they used in their speaking styles. Then, they learned how to use the Speak Standard, Too text and CDs to acquire and master the standard English equivalents.
The faculty had a great time, and we all had a lot of laughs, as they analyzed each other's speaking styles, and learned how to listen and list others' and their own speech differences. Then, when we broke up into small groups of two or three, they began to understand how to use the materials to teach themselves the new pronunciations and grammar. It was a good afternoon!
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DEPARTMENT OF SPEECH AND HEARING
ALABAMA A&M UNIVERSITY
The AAMU Department of Speech & Hearing invited me to conduct a two-day training workshop for department faculty, and their speech pathology students - undergraduate and graduate. Speech-language pathologists from local and statewide school districts also were invited to attend.
CEUs for speech-language pathologists were earned.
Because AAMU is an Historically Black University, the department supported my desire to focus - although not exclusively - on the linguistic history of African American Vernacular English, Gullah and Dr. Lorenzo Dow Turner's related work as we embarked on the Different, Not Deficient introductory part of the first day's morning session. The students and faculty were very participatory and insightful - sharing many personal stories, which - by the way - knew no racial or ethnic boundaries as they described all the different forms that language bias can take.
Cynthia Brewster, one of my hotesses, and the department's clinical director, had already adopted the Speak Standard, Too text and CDs for their clinical program, so several of the grad students were already familiar with some of the techniques. And, of course, they recognized them - as many SLPs do - as derived from our speech-language pathology training.
I particularly appreciated the straight-forward and thoughtful questions that the participants asked me, and then discussed and debated among themselves. Many of the issues that we addressed are complicated and sensitive, and all of the attendees gave them insightful and empathic consideration.
The SLP faculty was very interested in the implementation and philosphy of the SchoolTalk / FriendTalk writing lessons, implemented with the Write Standard, Too student journals ... the university's English teachers had started to send students, who had scored poorly on standardized testing, to the Speech Clinic for help in improving their standard English writing performances.
Aside from the wonderful welcome and workshop-response I received at AAMU, it was also a nice bonus that most of the attendees were fellow SLPs, which meant that we all spoke the same "primary professional dialect"!
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SOUTHSHORE (HIGH SCHOOL) ACADEMY
Doris Handley, a high school English literature and grammar teacher for twenty plus years, was given some stunning news at the end of the school year ... she had been designated chair of the brand new TV Department/Studio at Southshore Academy, and would be responsible for planning its curriculum for the following school year. She had only the summer to prepare for a course and curriculum she had never taught.
She knew, from her experience as their English teacher, that most of her students spoke African American Vernacular English, which would not be acceptable in "TV land." So, she asked me if I would help her write a curriculum that would satisfy their excitement about taking a TV course, but, at the same time, tackle the issue of teaching them to use oral and written standard English, or, as we named it, "TV Talk."
Ms. Handley's first step toward preparing herself to teach the TV course was to enroll in my Columbia College Broadcast Speech Techniques summer class. This was a standard English-acquisition course for students in the Radio Department, who wanted to be professional "on-air" talent. Taking this class - and experiencing everything that the students went through - was the best way to learn how to teach the course!
Then, she and I collaborated on writing an adapted version of the college class for her TV students. She assigned the Speak Standard, Too program as their classroom text and tapes. We had a one-day workshop so she and her assistants could learn how to use individual SST lessons as the basis for video rehearsals, script-writing assignments and on-air auditions.
Ms. Handley and her students were thrilled with the course ... I observed two of her classes over the course of the first semester, and was gratified to see their progress and enthusiasm ... an extraordinary teacher!
By the way, if there is one sure-fire hook for exciting middle school through high school students about mastering situational use of oral Standard English - and not thinking of themselves as "sell-outs," - it's when the course is couched in a TV/radio curriculum!
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The following class description also demonstrates how much easier it is to teach young people to use oral and written standard English as a second English dialect if you do it within a radio/TV curriculum.
8TH GRADE RADIO CLASS
COLLABORATION: COLUMBIA COLLEGE/CHICAGO PUBLIC SCHOOLS
Columbia College - in collaboration with the Chicago Public Schools - set up a summer program that was intended as a preparatory "bridge" between middle school and high school; the student population was comprised of youngsters who had been designated as "at risk" students by their schools. The program consisted of a full day of classes every week-day for six weeks; there were four classes offered, and all students were expected to attend the four classes on a daily basis - and, I might add - were paid for their attendance.
The four courses were: English literature and grammar; art; print journalism; radio/speech.
As you may have guessed, the radio/speech course was the one that I conducted. It was structured around the concept of acquiring and mastering oral and written standard English as a second dialect for use on the radio as well as in reading and writing and testing performances in school.
Because Columbia College's Radio Department was one of the most technically advanced departments of its kind in the country, we could simulate "on-air" performances that absolutely thrilled the students - and - it certainly got them competing in their mastery lessons in order to be the ones who were chosen to take the commercials/news/human interest stories/weather/traffic reports that they had written in standard English, and perform them "on air"for their classmates.
We used the Speak Standard, Too program as our per student texts, and we used the five-step methodology - and an adaption of the college Radio course which I taught at Columbia - as the basis for the course's curriculum. It is important to note that students had to demonstrate mastery of the oral pronunciation and/or grammatical structure which we had introduced that day in class, before they were expected to use the same structures when writing the assigned radio copy. The students grew more and more and more enthusiastic and competitive as the days passed. It was a very successful class.
As mentioned above, there's nothing that excites nonstandard English-speaking adolescent students more about pursuing mastery of standard English than the chance to use that dialect during "on-air" performances. This class was one more example that proves that statement.
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TITLE III PROGRAM - STAFF DEVELOPMENT GRANT
PEMBROKE STATE UNIVERSITY
Pembroke, North Carolina
This campus was a good setting for a Different, Not Deficient Seminar - plus a brief overview and demonstration of the methodology
The student-body, faculty and community of Pembroke State University - as self-described in their letter to me - are tri-racial, comprised of African Americans, Native Americans and European-descended Americans. Language and dialectal issues were a constant undercurrent of suspicion and concern on campus.
The director was a little nervous when I strongly recommended that students and faculty participate together, but she knew that this was an important step to take. We designed this workshop's structure to allow most of the students and most of the faculty to attend at least one of two three-hour sessions, during which time I presented a classic, interactive Different, Not Deficient seminar wherein we candidly discussed the issues of language bias, linguistic facts abut standard and nonstandard English dialects, why the goal of bi-dialectalism - situationally switching between standard and nonstandard dialects - is preferable and achievable, and how all of this relates specifically to this campus and the local community.
Whenever students are present at an issue-laden, volatile, no-punches-pulled seminar like this one, two wonderful things usually happen: increased understanding between students and faculty, and a lot of laughs!
Here's just a bit of the director's letter to me: The impact of your presentations ... was immediately positive and productive. Even the hard-core elitists seemed more willing to modify their positions ... You have provided us with a much needed theoretical framework in which we can comfortably address sensitive dialect-related issues for a tri-racial population ... One important point for the faculty was that nonstandard dialects are not lazy or unintelligent but rule-governed and linguistically, historically rich. ... the chair of the Native American Studies Department is looking forward to discussing (these) issues further with her students. You cannot imagine what an important step this is for us. Another important learning for faculty was the techniques you demonstrated for acquisition of Standard English. We need an opportunity to practice those techniques in future workshops ... Thank you for an informative, insightful and inspiring experience.
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WORKPLACE DIVERSITY WORKSHOPS
Chicago / St. Louis / Ranch Retreat - Michigan
The Eastman Kodak workshops are good examples of how the Different, Not Deficient seminar - as well as a brief overview of the Speak Standard, Too adult acquisition classes - can be successfully adapted to and received by managers and administrators who have been asked to attend corporate diversity sensitivity/training sessions.
All of these one-day workshops had very similar structures: morning sessions were devoted mostly to the Different, Not Deficient seminars; afternoon sessions were exposure to the techniques and five-step method via the Speak Standard, Too texts. Amazement and alot of laughs always accompany both sessions.
It is always gratifiying to hear from participants who report that their colleagues are looking at them and behaving with newfound respect for them, as well as other attendees who say that their "mindsets have totally changed for the better regarding people who use different dialects." The fact that we kept being invited back every two years or so reflects both the continued need for these workshops, as well as the excellent evaluations that the sessions received from the attendees.
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MCMILLON COMMUNICATIONS, INC.
Doris E. McMillon Miller
This was the ultimate "individualized" workshop - it was conducted for one person!
Doris E. McMillon Miller, is a former CNN broadcaster and TV-radio news anchor. As President of McMillon Communications, Inc., she uses her extensive broadcasting experience and skills to act as an individual/group media consultant as well as implementing her self-designed speech-focused corporate training program, which she has so appropriately entitled - Say It Like a PRO!
Ms. McMillon heard about our work from one of her staff members. After visiting the web site and acquainting herself with the bi-dialectic philosophy and approach, she became committed to learning how to use our techniques and materials. Her goal was to add another important dimension and expertise to her training curriculum and repertoire.
Ms. McMillan came to Chicago and we worked nonstop for a full day. We agreed that it was a productive and fulfilling workshop. She returned to Washington D.C. with a deep understanding of language bias and linguistic truth as well as a preliminary understanding of the techniques for how to teach oral and written standard English-acquisition. We both agreed that we need to do have one more one-day workshop to concentrate solely on teaching/training techniques.
Doris was a committed and serious "student." And, all educators know how gratifying it is to work with a focused, intelligent, enthusiastic and participatory "class."