The Classroom Rules 1

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47 thoughts on “The Classroom Rules 1”

  1. A smile with an edge… sounds like an art.

    Last summer, I went to Bryce Hedstrom’s workshop on classroom management at NTPRS. He mentioned using a think sheet. Think sheets work for me when reminders aren’t enough. (Thank you, Bryce.) Since Bryce didn’t tell what was on his, I decided to use Susan Gross’ 3Rs to develop questions: 1. What did I do? 2. Why was it a problem? (Explain using the 3Rs.) 3. How can I change my behavior for different results? I keep half sheets on a clipboard that has explanations of what the 3Rs look like in class (copied straight from Susan Gross’ beginning of the year handout) and send students to an isolated spot to write them. They pile up and create documentation of what’s going on in class in case I need it, without my having to stop class or try to remember everything until the end of the day.

    Think sheets made a big difference for me (along with the classroom motto of “Help each other get good results!” I found that I have been able to keep good relationships with most kids this year. The think sheet gives them a (silent, non-disruptive) voice to explain things from their point of view. They do the thinking instead of me: they take time to notice how things that they did affected the class. It gives them a self-timed time out if they are angry or just need a break. So many times, they take things personally. They think that the problem is about them and me and that I’m picking on them. The think sheets help them to focus on the effect that their actions have on the class. When there are misunderstandings, we can talk them through and relationships are restored. And when a kid is just having one of those days and is looking for fight, they usually escalate things. I end up writing a detention and calling their parents the same day, so they don’t get away with things. I haven’t had to go beyond the think sheet very many times this year. Kids perceive a think sheet as my taking action, as strongly as they hear my talking to them as “doing nothing.” (I need to develop some edges and some smiles in the right places…) The think sheet process worked a lot better than the warning-1-2-3 process I tried last year. Last year, some kids eventually realized that they could get away with a whole lot of disruption and blatant disrespect and not get in trouble if they could avoid the third check on their behavior sheet. This year, I decide the consequences by the effects of their behavior, their attitude and whether we are able to resolve things quickly in class. They haven’t been able to use the system against me, but I have been able to use the system to the benefit of all. All that said, I should also mention that I have the nicest bunch of teenagers this year that I have ever had.

  2. …they hear my talking to them as “doing nothing.”….

    Here are our three rigor posters. They encourage the kids to reflect on how your talking to them has value, and when administrators see them on the wall, they like it because they contain the word rigor. They might even help the administrator understand what it is that we do:

    *the rigor posters are available in different languages on the posters page of this site:

    1. Thanks, Ben. These are helpful. i like the way you framed your rules, as guidelines students can use to evaluate their success! It’s what you and others have been saying all along, but the way it’s framed, it empowers the students. Awesome. On the teacher reflection, what are the 3 tasks for stories?

  3. DERAILING! That’s what my kids are trying to do to me. But I will not give in. But I have to say that not letting it piss me off has to be one of the greatest challenges. There seem to be 4-5 kids in every class whose job it is to get other kids going and to keep me from doing my job. So my question is this: How do you smile when you want to smack the little f-ers? Their rudeness astounds me.

    1. Also, I do stop every time there is an infraction and I kindly ask the class which rule was broken? They know.. they say it in L2. We talk about it. Then a second later the kid does it again. We stop. Go through the same thing. Then another kid does it. Testing me just like a two year old I suppose. I have to get this right. HELP – it’s also raising my blood pressure and they can probably tell. Which makes it worse.

      1. …which rule was broken? They know.. they say it in L2. We talk about it. Then a second later the kid does it again. We stop. Go through the same thing. Then another kid does it….

        Something is going on. We need to figure this out. It’s starting with one kid and that is the point from which it is all unravelling. Can you find out who that one kid is and go asap to the parents. They are the only ones who can help you now – the parents of the ringleader.

        1. But if you cannot identify the ringleader go for the one whose parents will provide the most support. (Calling just one parent will help break up the group unity and make the rest wonder if they will get a call next.)

          Also, if you can call a parent whose student is doing the right things, make that call, too.

          And, if you can catch one of the troublemakers doing something well, call and only tell about the good thing. If you have to, call back next day or a few days later about the further acts of not looking/listening/requesting clarification/responding. But with something good said you may have one the parent over that you are on the kids side.

      2. I know that Ben generally proposes a general restatement of the rules without going to the offending student directly.

        However, this is perhaps an opportunity for you to teach your students a life skill that many people do not possess: the art of the apology.

        Most people do not understand how to apologize or what an apology truly ought to be, and so we have people who give pseud0-apologies. One of my students, for example, is prone to saying “My bad” for a lot of things, sometimes even when no apology is warranted. Sometimes people make excuses, not apologies.

        A true apology should consist of the following elements:
        1. A verbal (or written) statement of the offending behavior, e.g. “I was blurting in English”
        2. A statement of the reason this behavior is wrong, e.g. “By blurting in English I was showing disrespect to you (the teacher) and to my classmates who want to learn.”
        3. A commitment to change.
        4. A statement of the positive behavior that will replace this negative. Not just, “I won’t blurt any more*” but “I will think before I answer, and I will try to answer in [the target language].”

        Expect relapses, but going through this process gives students some metacognitive perspective and makes them acknowledge out loud what the offense was, why it was an offense, and what they purpose to do to change it. The public nature of this provides accountability.

        Expect to have to do this a lot at the beginning. Your students may or may not be too young for this to work.

        *Whenever I hear or use this phrase: “I won’t [whatever the action] any more”, I always think of my days at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament. One of the knights occasionally drank too much, particularly on a Saturday night. He would then come to the Sunday matinee with a hangover. Knowing I had attended church before coming to work, he would say to me, “Oh, Robert, I’m not going to drink any more.” I would look at him and say, “The problem is, you’re not going to drink any less, either.” The lack of a positive substitute for his actions meant that he would simply keep repeating the poor behavior.

        1. The art of the apology. Timely, as usual Robert. It takes time and thought to make a true apology. The truest apologies are probably not the quickest ones. I would guess we might do more for critical thinking skills with working through true apologies. Thank you for thinking this one through and putting it out here for us and our students to benefit.

        2. Robert, does the apology process you describe above happen right then and there in class, just after the infraction? Can you talk me through the order of events so I can picture the whole flow? Student x blurts and then…?

          1. Jen, it happens right then and there.

            For example, Joe is having a conversation with Jane, and I stop class to deal with it. The following takes place in English.

            Joe: Sorry

            Me: Sorry for what?

            Joe: For talking.

            Me: Why is that a problem?

            Joe: You don’t like it.

            Me: Why don’t I like it?

            Joe: I’m not paying attention.

            Me: And … ?

            Joe: [Thinks – for the first time] I was bothering Jane.

            Me: And … ?

            Joe: [Thinks some more] And the class.

            Me: And .. ?

            Joe: [Thnks some more] And keeping other people from being able to learn.

            Me: Is that good or bad?

            Joe: Bad, I guess.

            Me: Why is it bad?

            Joe: Because we’re here to learn German.

            Me: So?

            Joe: So I was keeping the class from learning German. Can we just go on?

            Me: No. So you need to apologize to everyone, not just to me, right?

            Joe: Yeah. Sorry.

            Me: For what?

            Joe: Sorry for keeping everyone from learning German.

            Me: And what are you going to do to keep it from happening again.

            Joe: Not talk anymore.

            Me: What positive thing are you going to do instead?

            Joe: Pay attention, I guess.

            Me: Good idea. So the positive thing you’re going to do is participate in the class discussion?

            Joe: Yeah.

            Me: Good. Now tell me that.

            Joe: I’m going to pay attention to the class discussion instead of talking.

            Me: Great. I accept your apology. [It is important to verbally accept the apology.]
            Class, do you accept Joe’s apology?

            Class: Yes.

            Me: Okay. Let’s get back to German.

            I would love for a student to tell me that talking on the side is bad because it distracts the class from the great conversation we’re having, but I’ll take the learning German statement for now.

            Hope this helps.

          2. Robert, this has made me think.
            I noticed when I read your first apology comment that your apology had almost exactly the same structure as our school “Planning Guides” which kids fill out in the “Planning Room” and then get a detention. In many cases (not all) these become routine nonsense with no meaning and no real use beyond removing someone from class for a while if that’s what you want or need. Part of the problem is how they are talked through it, or not, in the Planning Room.

            I rarely give out these planning guides, but I regularly deal with chatting, blurting, etc. in various ways as best I can, including a truncated version of this that doesn’t get us where we want to go. To use this process all the way through, in class, right then and there, could be so much more effective than either the planning guides or whatever else I try, at least in many situations. The key for me to remember is to really take it all the way through in a calm, communicative way. It seems like it would be well worth the time it takes.

            Thank you! And thanks, Jen for asking your question!

          3. It has only been in these past couple of years that I’ve realized just how well worth it it is to talk to a kid in the hallway for however many minutes until the kid acknowledges the problem, apologizes, and thinks of solutions. I’ve come to realize this at my current school in large part because our deans and admin frown heavily on sending a kid to them for any issue a teacher has with that kid. This has really forced me to find ways to relate to troubled kids.

          4. I was thinking we’d have this conversation right in class. Let everyone benefit. There may be some situations where I wouldn’t do it this way, but I see doing this right then and there in class most of the time. I hope I would be doing it less and less and then not at all.

          5. I think it’s important to be sensitive to kids, circumstances, etc. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to dealing with people. Sometimes I take kids out into the hallway for a “come to Jesus” conversation. On Thursday I asked a student to stay after class briefly. He has anger management issues and gets quite upset at one or two other students, who of course delight in setting him off. I told him about growing up and learning not to react to my brother’s teasing, then encouraged him to quite reacting to help take the fun out of their prodding. So far I have not been able to catch the actual provocation, just the student’s reaction. I was out on Friday and will be again on Monday, but on Tuesday I will have a conversation with the offenders about treating others as you would like to be treated.

          6. And sometimes I simply express concern about how things are going because a student’s behavior that day is out of character. I try to avoid sending students to the office with referrals, not because my administration is not supportive (they are), but because I want the administrators to be able to say what one of them said to a student: “This is the first referral I have ever gotten from Mr Harrell. You’re in big trouble.” If it isn’t “big trouble” I don’t want to bother the admins.

          7. We do have to be sensitive to individuals and their circumstances, of course. This wouldn’t be the thing to do with every student. We are making judgement calls constantly.
            For me, “…most of the time” it’s the same students, and this seems like a really good thing to try with them, in class. I’ll see what happens. I’ll use my judgement.
            I’m thinking of students for whom the conversation in the hall or after class is pretty much useless, for whatever reason – their mood, our relationship, their history of conversations in the hall over the years, or a multitude of other reasons.

            I think catching the provocations is often a huge challenge, but key.

          8. Ruth, I’m so sorry if feels like you’re out of options. I know that feeling. So many of our students have given up hope in themselves. I think we have to remember that. They have internal issues that are practically impossible for us as their teachers alone to help them overcome.

            I was also thinking how helpful it is to have a critical mass of students in the class on your side and speaking up when others are being rude. Maybe that’s something to work with.

          9. Thanks for your commiseration, Sean. I don’t really feel out of options. I more feel like I am needing to adapt to the reality of that one 8th grade class, and there are lots of ways to do that. I’ll be trying some different things to try to engage them more and change up the energy. Maybe we can work our way into the lighthearted conversation and fun CI that happens, at least a lot of the time, in my other classes.

  4. “How do you smile when you want to smack the little f-ers? Their rudeness astounds me.”

    Thank you Mindee!!!! I got a great chuckle out of this! I think we each have our own ways of dealing with this (meaning the smile when we want to smack the little f-ers).

    Phone calls to parents are the first line of defense. I am only learning that now, after….choke, gasp…a lot of years :0

    I have a bunch of different things I do depending on the moment. This year I’m trying to just slow everything down, including (or especially) my own reactions. I’ve been invoking Tina (see her vids) and walking to my new sign, pointing and smiling. The sign actually reminds me to smile because I put hearts and peace signs and unicorns and rainbows on it. So when I look at it, I feel happy and silly.

    Your comment made me think of another one that might help with the blood pressure situation: imagine actually smacking the little f-ers ( in a funny cartoon way, not actual violence??? Could help bring some humor to you, which would release some of the tension. I think I am going to paste your expression “smile when you want to smack the little f-ers” into my notebook because it makes me laugh!

    When it gets really old and exhausting, I do dictado or listen and translate. Both of those “feel school-y” and official. I even make them sit in rows for this to accentuate the seriousness. It shifts the energy for sure.

    1. OOH! Another thing is that I observe the species in other habitats: class meetings, assembly, other classes. I notice that they do not (in general) know how to listen without talking. So it is very much an ingrained habit.

      AND…I have also seen some sub groups of the species in entirely different habitat: bagging groceries, stocking shelves, folding sweaters, speaking to customers at the cash register. SO…this tells me that they CAN follow my simple expectations when they have to (at their job), so I need to step up as the boss and create the atmosphere I want. It aint easy but it’ s also not complicated…and very much about my own boundaries and self-respect.

      Saying all this because I don’t come naturally to “classroom management” and am still learning.

      1. Jen.. I’m so glad I could say on here that I wanted to smack the little f-ers. I actually wrote it and then deleted it because I thought it’s not something I should actually say/feel. Then I remembered something Ben wrote about wanting this to be a place where we can be direct and honest about our feelings. Thanks for making me feel welcome! And I will try some of your suggestions, like putting some peace signs on my cart!

        1. Yowza! Timing is everything. I just had a little f-er today! I stopped the activity because one girl in particular was blurting nonstop, and a few others were chiming in.

          Wrote up some reflection questions and also a writing prompt (for a story, for those kids who were engaging).

          But here is the kicker: the blurty girl has zero acknowledgement that her blurting was an issue. OY! Here is her response:

          “I like to talk. I hate just sitting and not doing anything. I don’t learn by just listening.”

          Even more disturbing: One of the questions was ” Why do you feel the teacher and the group do not deserve your respect and attention?” She wrote: “I don’t really know about the ‘group.'” Yes “group” in quotes. ????

          And there’s more: One of the questions is “What could you do differently when you feel the urge to blurt or talk over someone?” She wrote: “No clue.”

          I’ll be touching base with mom shortly.

          Other than that, I responded to her responses. One thing I said was to imagine she was in science class and ran around busting the equipment. I’m trying to point out that she ruins the experience for the others by literally stopping the learning (acquisition) for everyone.

          Any ideas? Maybe mom will have a strategy. I’m most concerned with her lack of awareness about how her actions completely derailed the class.

          I think I will be old school with this group for awhile. They were pretty off the wall, sort of like whack a mole. And very cranky when I smiled and pointed to my fun colorful rule sheet. Maybe I was asking them to do something they are not ready to do.

          Tomorrow we’ll have some old fashioned reading and dictado.

          1. Deep work/strong emotional responses from jen in response to Mindee. Jen’s honesty and courage will always remain as one of the most wonderful aspects of this blog no matter how many years it goes on from here. My feeling is that she stays in this profession for the internal growth, for what she can gain from the kids beyond giving them the gift of her teaching presence on all levels, and this I deeply respect. Her way is the way of effacement and trying to love those whom she cannot love, at least that is my perception. I feel that she, like Robert, teaches in humility and service and their strength in my view comes directly from the Holy One who is Humility itself. She will always have my deepest professional and personal respect because of that. Those who have been here for the past decade know well why I say this. I’m just highlighting a few lines of what she said in her response to our wonderful new group member Mindee today:

            …phone calls to parents are the first line of defense. I am only learning that now, after….choke, gasp…a lot of years….

            …this year I’m trying to just slow everything down, including (or especially) my own reactions. I’ve been invoking Tina (see her vids) and walking to my new sign, pointing and smiling….

            …when it gets really old and exhausting, I do dictado or listen and translate….

            …I observe the species in other habitats: class meetings, assembly, other classes. I notice that they do not (in general) know how to listen without talking. So it is very much an ingrained habit….

            …I have also seen some sub groups of the species in entirely different habitat: bagging groceries, stocking shelves, folding sweaters, speaking to customers at the cash register. SO…this tells me that they CAN follow my simple expectations when they have to (at their job)….

            Most important of the above by far? I vote for the following thunderous idea, perhaps one of the great lines about our work in classrooms. Maybe the greatest:

            …so I need to step up as the boss and create the atmosphere I want. It ain’t easy but it’ s also not complicated…and very much about my own boundaries and self-respect….

          2. I need to do one of these sheets and of course make a phone call or two for my other classes. I am super mellow but dislike excessive off task noise. That said, I am enjoying my classroom alot more this year. If it wasn’t for all those damn meetings.

          3. Thanks for reiterating Jen’s super important points, Ben. I keep coming back to the yoga metaphor.. you can do it/hear it a hundred times but every time the same thing seems to have different, deeper meaning. This seems so true with everything I’m learning from this group through TPRS. Who knew TPRS would lead me on a spiritual journey? Perhaps that is why I am so completely obsessed with it. It is more than a methodology. I carry many of Ben’s books (and Terry Waltz’s) around with me all day to try to take in as much as I can when I have a break (and if Catharina Greenberg had a book it would be attached at the hip). I can’t thank you all enough. I was so tired of my job last year in this Elementary School. Having taught young ones for awhile I was so ready to go back to H.S.. I applied for a job last Spring and when I didn’t get the job I was devastated. How would I go back to what I’d grown to be so miserable at: The legacy approach – (I learned that word too although I’m not sure I’m using it correctly). In any case, had I gotten the HS job I wouldn’t be here bec I wouldn’t have gone to FLES training where they gave us an article by Bill Van Patten. I’d never heard of CI. I went home and looked it up and I haven’t stopped reading, practicing, failing, crying and laughing since. Thank you folks! What a joy.

          4. I have a student this year that almost always walks in late, gets verbal with me when I redirect her side conversations, will walk out of the room without permission, and generally complains a lot. She’s has multiple parent-teacher conferences with her mom last year (so says the dean) and I organized one a couple of weeks ago, which most of her teachers attended since they have similar issues. 30 minutes after the parent-teacher conference, this student got into a fight in the hallway and was suspended for 5 days. Since back from suspension, her behavior hasn’t changed. On Thursday she walked out and talked to a security guard. On Friday she voluntarily saw a counselor.

            I know that every school culture is different. How deans, or the culture and climate team, intervene looks different in our schools. The admin at my school, like many Chicago Public Schools, have to be very careful with suspensions. Expulsions are mostly out of the question. People’s hands are tied.

            Luckily, the spirit of the class that this troubled student is in is generally high, even if attention spans are low. So, it’s an individual student issue. I was sharing this with a veteran teacher colleague of mine and she gave me some good advise. Don’t fight it. Don’t argue or even feed into an argument. Let it go. Forget about what’s going on with the student in the classroom and just ask her, “I see you are upset. Is there anything I can do to help you?”

            I’m learning how to let go of this pressure to be firm with students with classroom expectations. Well, at least for some students. Some, like this young lady, obviously have some inner turmoil. I need to bend like the branches of the willow tree in the wind for her all the while stand straight and tall like the oak for others.

            (I can’t resist the tree metaphors that Ben started)

      2. “Saying all this because I don’t come naturally to “classroom management” and am still learning.”

        Same here jen!

        As for Mindee’s situation. There more calm we are, there more they know that we are in charge not them. Ben talks a lot about power. This is where students shouldn’t get to us. Swift and quick consequences with a smile. Of course, age appropriate consequences.

    2. I have one 8th grade class with some very unruly and rude students. They were difficult last year, and this year with the addition of students from another team (this is the only time they get to see each other), they are worse. I try different things to see what works and nothing ever does. I know the feeling, Mindee and jen. They take the heart out of me.
      My principal observed me the other day with the goal of helping me out. They could not have cared less that the principal was there.
      I talked about the class with her today. She was not critical of me. She saw what I am dealing with. She had ideas. I agreed. I am dividing the class into two groups. One half will work facing the wall or windows at the tables around the edge of the room. They will do Duolingo with headphones or worksheets maybe (that’s what they want). I will set up a Duolingo classroom so I can see what they do. Plus the screens will be facing me.
      The other half of the class will be with me in the open central space where we will do whatever CI we do. It’ll be all the same kids of course, but I can separate some and will have fewer at a time for the CI.
      Then halfway through the period the groups will switch places. We’ll see what happens.

      I am trying not to let the feeling of failure creep into my heart. I think I am succeeding. I am looking at my sanity and the mood I am in when the next lively and fun class of 7th graders comes in right after these others leave and I’m drained. Classroom management doesn’t come naturally to me either.

      1. Classroom management has been a process for me too! You should have met me in my first year. Oh la la. I could not teach my way out of a paper bag.
        I just wanted to say, about your eighth grade group, that if they do not get to see the other team’s kids except for in your class, maybe it would pay off to have some kind of routine of giving them time to visit, maybe with a L2 song playing so that it looks like Spanish class (or French or Mandarin or whatever) and let them visit till the song is over.
        Might help! I have found myself a lot more relaxed with my kids this year, starting class “the slow way” and they are grateful. So am I, since I need to reconnect with kids each period and get my happy mojo going. So taking a few minutes to just enjoy being together again, is growing really important to me.
        After the fluency fast classes I took in TN this summer, too, I have a lot more compassion for kids’ experiences and how much mental energy it takes to simply listen and understand in the language. So, if we relax a little it is best for them, I think.

        1. Thanks, Tina. I actually have done/do that, giving them a visiting and snack break before we start. With some groups it’s been a good thing. This group is different. It seems no matter what I do, there is that subgroup that drags us down, but I’ll see if there’s a way to do it that might help. I do play songs sometimes at the beginning, but I like the idea of having the song be the visiting time. I was thinking of asking them to find some songs and give me a list. I just hadn’t done that yet.
          I did divide them up yesterday (I only see each class every other day) and it was somewhat better. A little distracting with two things going on. We’ll see how it develops and how I can tweak it. And we’ll divide up after the visiting time. It occurred to me yesterday that we went right into the two groups doing their thing without the pause at the beginning.
          Deep down, I am right with you in this way of thinking, but I get waylaid by the negative energy sometimes. I appreciate the backup and reminding how important it is.

          1. Thanks Ruth and Tina!
            I have been giving kids a break halfway through class, in addition to the “slow start” where I wander about chatting with individuals as they come in, take attendance, etc. but I know it is not enough and is not “tight” enough. I love the song idea. Will try that this week. I have been doing “song of the week” this year (not hammering on activities with said song, just basically listening to it and enjoying it, with occasional lip synch / dance break / karaoke adventures as the energy of the group dictates).

            I love the idea of using the music as a timer. I feel like this might help a lot. It feels like I’ll feel freer to give multiple breaks as needed, since the music will be a timer. Also I can “review” the older songs during the break too.

          2. How to start a class of students that aren’t ready for SSR as a bell-ringer is a really good conversation for me. I need ideas for my 8th period class. A song playing might be good, though I wonder if the extra noise above the chatter would be unsettling.

            Maybe a student presentation of some kind. Like a student presents a photo or an artifact or a word… I don’t know. I agree that I need to check in with students for a few minutes at the beginning of class and I would really rather not do some kind of bell-ringer work in a notebook where students are translating or whatever. Then again, maybe that’s what I need to do.

            Maybe put up a CWB card (that I took a picture of and uploaded to my computer). Students can expect to describe the card or answer questions about the card once I’m done spending a couple minutes checking in with some of them privately. I’m liking this idea. So, the visual is up when the bell rings. After a couple minutes pass of me checking in with kids, I go stand by the image and “break on through to the other side” into the L2 dimension of play and imagination 🙂

  5. Classroom management is usually a set of iron chains for all of us. It’s a unique time in history for kids to be able to get away with acting in this way. In this case, I would be the most eagle eyed in-your-face teacher on the planet for those kids on headphones or worksheets. They of course will want to unsettle my other group. I would prevent that with power and intensity. I would make their activity a punishment and make the isolation real and continued. I would make my CI group work and the other not. You may have to keep working with this principal. Just don’t believe it’s you. You are in no way to blame. Human civility is gone. Anyone who is a teacher now in our country’s history gets extra credit. When we go to sleep after a typical workday working with those rude children, the angels clap when our heads hit the pillow. This I believe.

  6. I have a new principal.

    He has three goals for us and our students:
    1. High expectations.
    2. Be kind.
    3. Look out for one another.

    I have met with him on three occasions already. I believe these are more than just slogans. They are goals that he is setting out there for us. He is not telling us what they mean. He wants us to work that out. He repeats them every day at the end of announcements. They are getting into my thinking. I repeat them to the kids, but meaningfully and pertinent to the situation. Today one of my characters was looking out for a new student. I had the language ready to reinforce his good intentions. “Thanks for looking out for Juanita, Jaime.”

    It works the same with our ICS items. They represent high expectations. Currently, I have been expressing mine as

    “We are expected to listen in order to understand, to look for clues to help us understand, to request clarification when we do not understand, and to respond appropriately when we do understand.”

    These are not only very high expectations, they are also an expression of kindness to our fellow learners. They can become a way for us to look out for one another. (For example, when everyone uses the “I don’t understand” signal, they are looking out for the first person who sent up the signal. Btw, Anna Gilcher referred to exactly this on the ACTFL blog today. TPRS/CI has been the pioneer in caring whether kids understand.)

    Like the other things we do, the setting and holding to expectations is an ongoing to effort until we reach that tipping point where students buy in to what is best for them. It can be frustrating in the process, but keep patiently reminding them of our high expectations and pointing out where they are succeeding, and tying them into the broader school vision.

  7. The smile. It really does matter. Something about making that connection with the kid (and also letting them know a phone call can be made)… it helped today. Thanks everyone. There is no magic bullet but I sure am lucky to have this group behind me in my TPRS journey.

    1. The smile. So true. Sometimes it is a little forced. Sometimes it is harder. Like you say, It still matters.

      We can add a little chuckle, too. Like laughter on stage. They are getting paid to smile and laugh. We can, too. When we need a break or a bailout we can start laugh, like Santa, like a grandmother, like the crook, like an owl, like proud dad.

      Then we can write the onomatopoeia on the board show them what it looks like in our language. In Spanish:
      like a proud father (ja-ja-ja)
      like Santa (jo-jo-jo)
      like a little kid (ji-ji-ji)
      like the crook (ge-ge-ge)
      like an owl (ju-ju-ju)

  8. Yes there is a good group and a bad group. I make no bones about that. The kids who are unwilling for whatever reasons (usually they don’t want to be human, just want to be able to memorized and do worksheets and other robot activities) are the bad group. I want those kids to see the good group, the group trying to behave in actual human ways, working well. I want the robots to see what human behavior looks like. I can’t teach a language in the robot way. I just can’t.

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