I’ve been daydreaming. I’ve been trying to imagine a Dream Team for the 2016 Agen Workshop. Who would you pick for your dream team?
First I’d want a navigator. Someone who has spent his life studying second language acquisition, a world known exêrt, so that he could plot our course, tell us when we are veering into shallow waters and when we can proceed, full speed ahead. A navigator has to have authority, but I’d also want him to be able to point out unnecessary side trips with a smile and a joke, because on a team you need people who can smile and laugh about everything, even when you’re off the map. Especially if you’re off the map. So I’d like to have Stephen Krashen on my workshop Dream Team.
Second I’d want on my Dream Team a woman who has been called the world’s best teacher. I had heard about her and went to see her out of curiosity in Minneapolis in 2009 and came away convinced that I had indeed seen the world’s best teacher. She doesn’t shout and jump around and very rarely encounters purple chimpanzees. She smiles and there’s a little twinkle in her eyes as she repeats “Stephen has coffee” for the 257th time and everyone grins because she said it in Mandarin and it was totally comprehensible. I’d like to have Linda Li on my Dream Team.
Third, I’d want on my Dream Team the world’s most loving teacher, someone who doesn’t just talk the talk, but lives with her heart wide open, someone who knows that love is a verb, something that needs doing every minute, every second, something as necessary as breathing, someone whose wisdom and perception continually amaze me. I’d like to have Laurie Clarcq on my Dream Team.
Fourth, I’d want on my Dream Team a teacher who knows how to inspire others, how to think things through and who has the courage to strike out in uncharted territory and try new ideas. I’d want a teacher who can also admit that he’s not always right, that he has moments of doubt, a teacher who dreams with his eyes wide open. I’d want a teacher who considers teaching a battle against ignorance, but is also able to see the gifts and potential in others. I’d like to have Ben Slavic on my Dream Team.
On my Dream Team I’d also want a master storyteller, such as the Chevallier de l’Ouest, a gallant knight, a wise hermit, a gentle giant, a teacher who can untangle the tight knots of abstractions that Administrations use to weave evil spells and make them transparently comprehensible. I’d like to have Robert Harrell on my Dream Team.
Of course, I already have a great team of people who have been working with me on the Agen Workshop for the last few years, people who are irreplaceable. Teri Wiechart’s expert coaching has been an invaluable asset from the very beginning. Without Teri’s encouragement and faith in me, I would never have dared set out on this journey. I will never know how to thank her for the confidence and perception she showed at the beginning of this adventure. And through Teri I met so many more great teammates.
Sabrina Sebban-Janczak not only brings her wonderful teaching skills, she also brings her warm smile and patience. Tamara Galvan, who lives just a few kilometers away, reminds me of the story of a man who went around the world looking for a treasure and found a diamond in his own back yard. She’s an amazing teacher, and if you don’t believe me, ask any of her students. Carol Hill came this year for the first time and did a wonderful job of not only coaching, but also, with Anny Ewing, was able to present the basics of TPRS in a way that convinced people who knew very little about it.
And in the background there are Françoise and Christine, who started as my students, became my friends and are now absolute necessities. There’s my son Daniel. Teri says he’s a natural, but TPRS seems to allow him to express all his natural fun and quirkiness. Then there is Lillian Stirling, the lovely woman who was standing next to me in the crowd on the first day of the Tesol Paris Colloquium. I didn’t know a soul and told myself it was time to start networking. Lillian listened, asked questions, came to my presentation, came to the first workshop in Agen in 2012 and has been back every year since. She has turned out to be a wonderful advisor and I rely on her Scottish sense of reality but also on her delightful, innate sense of magic and fun.
So, in a way, I already had a Dream Team of trusted friends, people who helped weave a spell over Agen, making it a workshop like no other. But next year, next year, next year will be special. Stephen Krashen, Linda Li, Laurie Clarcq and Ben Slavic have agreed to join us. There it is. The Dream Team I didn’t dare imagine could actually happen, old friends and new, all together. I’ve pinched myself several times, so I’m wide awake and it is still true. They are all going to be in Agen July 25th for the best workshop ever. Don’t miss it.