26. Deskless French learning with Richard Smith

How could getting rid of the desks in your classroom, promote deep learning for your students? Today we have Richard Smith on the show to share some of his best practices for inspiring young people to learn French.

My cohort 21 colleague Jen Bairos told me about Richard Smith back when we recorded our episode together—which is episode 13 (part 2) if you haven’t listened to it yet––I didn’t know a lot, but Jen basically said that he was a French teacher who went deskless to promote better classroom conversations in French. I was intrigued. But I honestly don’t know anything about French, so I felt like I wouldn’t be the best person to conduct the interview. So I asked Jen to record a call with Richard and that is what I am sharing with you today.

What I love about this conversation is that it is two passionate French teachers exploring how to engage French language learners, how to actively inspire students to speak in authentic situations, and how to make French class an emotional learning experience. If you don’t know her, Jen Bairos is a middle level French teacher in Toronto and she is also a coach with Cohort 21. A wonderful introduction to Jen is back on episode 13, so do yourself a favour and give that episode a listen to spend some more time with Jen!

I learned so much about teaching in my own context by listening in on and editing this conversation, so even if you are not a French teacher, I am confident that you will have some powerful take-aways for your own practice.

Let’s jump right in to Jen’s conversation with Richard Smith.

A big thank you to Jen for sharing Richard with all of us and conducting her first podcast interview! You were a natural and a pro and I am grateful to have you in my life.

It might not be realistic for all of us to go deskless in our classrooms, but I think a really important question to ask ourselves is what do we just assume we need in our classrooms could we actually do without and perhaps our students might benefit from? Maybe it’s not a physical object, but perhaps it’s another structure that may actually be holding your students back from meaningful learning. What would happen if we dared to experiment for one class? A week? A unit? A year?

If this show resonated with you or you think someone else would like, please share it with a friend. This is a small, grassroots podcast and when it is shared friend to friend, we can grow the show and expand the magic we are creating.

That’s all the time we have for today, folks, keep on experimenting, and remember we are teaching tomorrow.

Resources and Links Mentioned on the Show

About the Author
Passionate and curious about technology, smiles, special education, differentiated instruction, forests, graphic novels, accessibility, anti-oppression, and warm beverages. Can often be found laughing with young people and improvising songs on the spot. @teach_tomorrow

5 comments on 26. Deskless French learning with Richard Smith

  1. I really enjoyed listening to this podcast – his passion, that he came to teaching later after a different career, and that he is dead set on building a culture of ‘french-only’ in his classroom, and he does so intentionally. His anecdotes about students that are struggling or really succeeding because they came from an immersion program speak to differentiation. I hope that all our french teachers tune in!

    @vkraus @ddoucet

  2. Vivienne Kraus says:

    Thanks for pointing me in this direction, Garth! My Cohort 21 question was centred around authentic communication, and in one of the design sprints, when running out of ideas, I had the thought of having a ‘cocktail party’ where students would have to make small talk. A set up such as this one would be great!

  3. Vivienne Kraus says:

    Oops – I accidentally posted without thanking @teach_tomorrow for hosting this, and @jbairos for the interview questions, and for pointing me in the direction of Richard Smith.

    1. Jennifer Bairos says:

      @vkraus – I’m so glad you enjoyed it! Richard has SO MANY oral communication ideas on his French It Up website. Especially if you click the “more” tab and then “french resources”. He has a huge slide deck of ideas that he’s constantly updating. I keep it as a quick access tab on my browser and refer to it regularly.

      Hope you’re doing well!

  4. Vivienne Kraus says:

    @jbairos Merci beaucoup! : )

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