Responsibilities of Teachers

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19 thoughts on “Responsibilities of Teachers”

  1. Thanks for reposting this. I find that I struggle the most with enforcing the no English rule. I need practice enforcing this rule without becoming grumpy. This is something that I am going to have to work on for next year.

    1. oooh, me too! i get really grumpy with the upper level classes especially. like today in level 4, it’s all going smoothly all spanish all the time, light and fun, and then someone just randomly blurts in english and others chime in. it’s like the “seal is broken” or something. i wanted to strangle the instigator and slap her upside the head. instead i ignored the outburst as best i could, by interjecting a question and re-routing the conversation. they came around quickly without missing a beat. i’m not sure if this is the best strategy? would love advice. i used to get all visibly frustrated and say snarky things or scold them, but i don’t think this is useful in terms of keeping a positive vibe, so….???

      should i speak privately to the instigator? i have done this and she tells me she has trouble with mornings in general, first period classes are very difficult for her, and that having spanish first is even worse (the schedule just changed at the semester). i get this, but i cannot control when my class meets. i try to do active things to break it up and wake them up a little…but sometimes that exacerbates the situation with this individual because she refuses to move. she can be stubborn. i’m a little taken aback. this behavior has surfaced recently so it has caught me off guard. i will check in with her to see if something is going on, since this seems new, but would appreciate any other strategies.

        1. Easier said than done, by the way. I hate making phone calls home. I’ve heard horror stories from other teachers about enabling parents who make up excuses for their children. It hasn’t happened yet to me but I’m sure it’s just a matter of time.

  2. Jen,

    I wish I had some advice to give. I feel your pain. This currently is (and always has been) my achilles’ heel. I’ve yet to find the balance between light and happy and disciplinarian. I just bought “Teaching With Love and Logic,” but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet. I have heard that this approach to discipline works well with TPRS.

  3. I would love to hear what people say. This is a vulnerable area, one of many, that I have as well. A young guy in DPS, a great French teacher in a very rough school, said, to a DPS Learning Lab group about a month ago, that from the very first day of school he NEVER speaks English.

    After a very short period of time the class is normed. Now, this works for him. It won’t work for me. I don’t see how one can set down the rules and train the class in the first few weeks without that five percent of English.

    But, indeed, it is that five percent of English that creates a window that communicates to the class that they also can speak in English. All sorts of points have addressed this issue here on this blog over the years, but they skirt the main issue that Andrea has raised, which is how to deal with kids who deliberately or half way deliberately – knowing the rule – break into English almost on purpose to derail the CI train.

    At least that is what I am reading into what Andrea is describing as her situation and believe me it is a situation that we all face.

    This is an incredible question, never before treated properly here, never before asked in this way. I am certain. We need to get this one tied down for next year. It is hugely connected to classroom discipline and yet we don’t really acknowledge that.

    How, indeed, do we go about addressing the question of how we could fully enforce a no-English rule consistently unless we do what Reuben does from Day 1 (because I can’t). What are the kids to think when we correct them once on a Wednesday and then the following Monday we let it go? This is a big deal.

    It’s a Catch-22. The only way to stop it is to make a rule that says that we may, from time to time, need to use English to clarify things, while, since they are not the teacher, they don’ t have that right. It is the only way I can think of right now and hopefully somebody comes up with something better.

    The hypocrisy is that we say we do TPRS but we don’t. Not in the sense that we mean, in the true sense, in the unconscious din/flow/uninterrupted focus on meaning sense. In the way that fully honors Krashen’s work.

    Most of us, me more than others, go into English a lot more than we would ever tell each other. I go into English at the drop of a hat. Someone dropped a hat in my classroom just today and I started speaking English. It’s just that way. And then we say that “some day” we will get the no-English thing down. I doubt it unless we team up to answer this properly right now.

    Thank you so much, Andrea. You have lured the dragon out of its lair for all to see. You have pointed to what may be the one biggest problem of all, and, if that isn’t enough, you have pointed to a major reason why TPRS/CI may ultimately be doomed in secondary school classrooms.

    Now that is a strong statement. Let’s be clear, I am stating that this approach to teaching may not ever work in settings like ours where there are large amounts of non-motivated students populating up to 70% or even 80% of our classes.

    In every other class such students have, English is a kind of rite of passage to being cool and getting noticed. Many spineless teachers allow a muted sense of rudeness in their kids, one in which English is the business end of their muted trumpet. How we find ANY success in that kind of setting is a mystery to me!

    I am saying that, as we continue to uncover all the layers of the method, not all the layers smell like a nice fresh onion. For all our hope and undeniable courage, we might actually one day be thought of as dumb asses who, for twenty failed years now, have been trying to get this square peg of great wonderment into the dark round hole of secondary education as we know it today.

    Hmmm. Maybe that is why so many teachers who try to use the method, especially the young ones, are being crushed by the old way, which thrives on the use of almost unlimited English.

    Poeple say that even bad CI is better than no CI. I’m not so sure. All I know is that we better attend to Andrea’s question quickly and with all the mental fire power at our command – which is considerable in this particular group of people – in order to find out if this method can actually be done, for a fact, in a setting that is so full of people whose feelings of entitlement in terms of what they are being offered by us borders on the consciously insulting.

    And no TPRS friendly administrators’ comments please. We only want to hear from TPRS/CI teachers who are currently working in classrooms on this one.

    1. The ability to speak a student’s native language is a great blessing if used wisely in the teaching of languages. I teach ESL to refugees coming to the U.S. from all over the world. If I could speak their native language that would be of tremendous benefit in establishing meaning and checking for comprehension.

  4. This is definitely a battle. No Native Language (French in my case) is the official rule and is usually applied when there’s an inspector present, but very few teachers actually claim to apply it all the time. I try and have tried for years. I make myself say, “I’m going to say this in French,” whenever I do decide to use French, as way of of at least being sure it’s something I’ve thought about and decided to do rather than just slipping into it.

    I also use sandwiching for short sentences. That is I say it in English (my TL), repeat it in French for quick comprehension and then say it again in English.

    But how do we get the kids to buy in? I can ask them to repeat something they’ve just blurted out in English, and they will usually make the effort, but we still had it in French and lost the magic bubble. I think a lot of this comes from their frustration when they’re asked to say things they are not really ready to say. I’ve found that when I go slow and circle, circle, circle, I’m usually able to keep that bubble. In order for them to accept the no French rule, they have to feel confident in their English.

    I’m experimenting now with a new strategy. I like rewarding my kids and I like baking cakes for them. In my pre-TPRS days I promised a chocolate cake to the class whenever someone got a perfect score on a test (20/20). Then I realized that while that motivated the 4%ers, most of the class didn’t feel like it was a goal they could ever attain. So I changed the rule and promised a chocolate cake whenever there were no failing marks, when the lowest test score was 10 out of 20. That worked well and when a weak student managed to get a passing grade he became the class hero. But this year I’m working with students who are in my group because of their failing marks, so again the bar is too high for some of them. So I went in one day and said there would be a chocolate cake if they didn’t speak any French during the lesson, unless I asked for a translation. That was a mistake, because they earned their chocolate cake in that very first lesson. So now I’m saying I’ll bring in a chocolate cake after five lessons without any French from them. Of course there’s some whispering going on which I pretend not to notice as long as they’re obviously explaining something in the lesson to each other, but they seem to playing the game and I had better check and make sure I have the ingredients on hand. Is it bribery? Maybe, but I clicker trained my dog and it worked a whole lot better than punishing her when she didn’t mind.

    1. Hmmmm….you have me thinking now. Although it’s bribery, I think it ‘s a pretty good idea. If it keeps them in the TL, which is a struggle, then everything is on the table.

  5. At the language villages (concordia language villages in northern MN) they have created a “Sprachmeister” name tag that kids choose to put on and wear the course of a day. They promise not to speak English and if they do, anyone (kid, counselor or cook) can remove the name tag and return it. It’s honored and revered and respected. If the kid makes it through the day, they get a huge congratulations from the whole camp and a token trinket. If they don’t, nobody makes a big deal out of it.

    I have 3 giant ñ’s at my house that I had students bling out. I’m planning on bringing this tradition to my classroom. But, it’s a hard transition.

    One german teacher I know who does this simply gives out a gold star to kids that do it successfully and has them stick the sticker next to their name on a roster. So, kids see the gold stars racking up for some and not others. I like this notion of positive peer pressure.

    Over time, it sends the right message without:
    *having to worry about consistency in squelching English day to day
    *being perceived as unfair

    The thing I hate about the Pagame system is that it sets up confrontation and foments or exacerbates issues of power between me and the students. I don’t like that.

    Frankly, sometimes the cutest answers are the ones that the mousey girl accidently lets slip or the raucous boy shouts out. We have… I have to keep myself free to accept those cute answers and roll with them.

    As far as PURE immersion, I think we would find hihger levels of frustration and anxiety in these classes. I’m with David Young when he advocates wise and judicious use of the language “in establishing meaning and checking for comprehension”. It’s when I, myself, let tangential English slip that the English is OK message is delivered. that’s just an issue of _my own_ self-control. That’s me not following my own rule.

  6. This sounds cool and intriguing. Can you take us through exactly how you plan to use this. The only thing I think I’m not following is if you only have 3 of them, are they earned by 3 students who avoid English? Or are they earned by the group?

    I’m having trouble lately with (sigh) an upper level class. I’m mostly ignoring the outbursts and redirecting, because I don’t want to be in a battle and have all this negativity flowing from me. But it’s getting tiresome. Level 4 kids, really? We are on break now, so I can start over when we get back, but I would love to hear more strategies.

    1. Oops. sorry all! I just realized I hadn’t read the whole thread and this was addressed above. 1) Yes, I need to laser and make a phone call. 2)I just realized, when reading Judy’s response, that these outbursts are basically side conversations (as opposed to using English in response to something because I’m going too quickly/they don’t understand). So…there’s a rule for that. I need to use the rule chart swiftly and ruthlessly. I will steel myself over break and go at it:)

      On a related note, a level 2 class recently has completely deteriorated. I think I may need to have a dictee-a-thon. Lately when I try to PQA, they just can’t handle their enthusiasm. The structures I’ve used lately may play too closely with their hormones or something! Using “wants to be with” and “likes” just set off a massive explosion. They had so much to say and I seriously could not stop the chatter. I guess when something sparks like this I need to adjust the format…maybe give them each 30 sec. of spewing who likes whom as many as they can think of (in small groups). Then get back to the PQA? It was almost a case of “overly-compelling” input :0

  7. I went to Michael’s and bought three big N’s made of wood. I fashioned tildes from smaller “S”s and assembled them. They’re necklaces now with gaudy, gold-colored chains.

    A kid, any kid, _chooses_ to take the ñ challenge. Up to 3 kids per class. I call it “el reto de la ñ”. the germans have this nice word, Sprachmeister – master speaker or master of language or something along those lines. I don’t know an equivalent Spanish word that rolls off the tongue like Sprachmeister does.

    For the level 4s, I think you may just need to lay down the law. I think a pagame system might be in order. You can probably have another kid do the tracking of it- give them the class list and you just assign the pagame and the kid documents it for you. the lvl 4s probably need to see their grade go down hard and fast. They can control themselves and should.

    1. Yup. Grades down. Hard and fast. Thank you for the reminder. On my run this afternoon I was thinking about the gold star system and for that group just determining a number they need to earn for an A, B, etc. so it would be a daily visual of their interpersonal grade. But yeah, maybe I just need to slam them. Thank you for the details on the bling! Fabulous!!!

    2. That sounds so cool! I’m thinking about making some ñ necklaces now too just for fun! How does the challenge work in your class? A kids takes the challenge by agreeing to not speak Spanish that day? Then what? This is a fascinating idea and I definitely want to learn more about it.

  8. Abbey Parks is a teacher from Detroit who just arrived in DPS at John F. Kennedy High School and is gaining mastery of the method very rapidly. She said something new here at the workshop, brand new in my opinion, that is worthy of mention here:

    At the beginning of the year, instead of telling the kids that the fist slap (or whatever you use) is how they show us if they don’t understand (or to slow us down), she asks the class to come up with their own sign so that each of her five classes has a different way of slowing her down.

    But the breakthrough thing (nobody in the worskhop had ever heard of it at least) is this:

    When a student makes the slow down/stop/clarification sign (let’s just call it a stop sign), in that moment the entire section of the class that is sitting near the originally signing student must also make the sign. This draws the attention of the teacher to the need expressed by the child who started the motion, but without calling attention to the child, avoiding any shaming.

    Another thing Abbey does is to give a noisemaker to one (responsible) student who then, in those moments when applause is needed/earned, starts the applause. The teacher then is not the only person to initiate applause, there are two people.

    This also sends message that we are in community, that there is safety in admitting that one does not understand, that it is ok to not know and to ask for help.

  9. I have lots of notes from the workshop. I will need weeks to process all of this. Plus, editing the Krashen video will be pushed back by a few weeks.

    Allow me to share my biggest take-away from this workshop. We just did a two hour session on Reader’s Theatre and my mind is fairly blown. I attended Jason’s Reader’s Theatre sessions in Los Alamitos two years ago, but it didn’t stick.

    I see now that if we add the Reader’s Theatre piece into Reading Option A, we will immediately solve , to a large degree, the fact that the books are boring. Yes, we can, si se puede, or at least Jason can, take a boring book and make it interesting, even fascinating, using Reader’s Theatre.

    That will be the principal focus of the blog content here for the next few days. It will be the only focus until the rest of us here all agree that we now know how to make a (boring) novel interesting to the extent .

    So if you already have mastered this topic, now is a good time to maybe go back and read some blog posts from years past. Incorporating RT into my teaching, which means hard standing on my feet doing this fantastic work that Jason does so naturally, trying to put it into the cells of my body, is the work of the next few weeks for me.

    And maybe video can be used properly to help us communicate for real reesults on this, for those who want to do it. But it sure does make reading come alive!

    Gotta work on one skill at a time becuase this stuff is so hard.

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