When nobody gets a pass, all students end up passing the class, and classroom problems disappear. What does this mean?
It means that every single kid in the classroom gets my attention, at every moment of the class. The importance of sensing when a kid “leaves” the class mentally and my reacting to it by going over to the kid immediately and asking them in English to tell me how it is that I am messing up cannot be understated.
I look like I am putting it on me. I say that obviously they don’t understand because of something I am doing, and I ask them to then please follow rule #4 and to please help me by letting me know when they don’t understand by hitting their fist into their hand, and only after that interaction with every single kid who is spacing out, do I return to the lesson. I do that even if every other kid in the room is reporting a ten on the hand comprehension checks.
We all need to develop the personal power and courage to stop our lesson when even one kid mentally leaves the room. This immediately shifts the entire responsibility of the classroom process onto each kid. If we let our students stare off into space (this is just a cry for help) the more discipline problems we will have throughout the year. Each day counts big time right now.
When I am doing the Circling with Balls activity, each student MUST be in direct eye contact with me, or I will not teach the lesson. And they can’t fake it. I must go as slowly as the needs of the slowest kid. There is no exception to this unless arrangements are made for that kid to drop the class.
That is one of real strengths of starting the year with the Circling with Balls activity – it allows me to change the energy coming from the kid by including her in a positive way in the discussion by talking about her in a positive way. We start the year in TPRS by starting off each class by talking about the most hard to reach kids in the class.
If we don’t do that, we are cowards. We must learn to go after that which we fear and smile and do everything Susan Gross has taught us and, if we do that, we cannot fail in our efforts to establish a great classroom atmosphere.
I stop and put it on the kid, but it looks like I’m putting it on me. Nobody gets a pass, and when nobody gets a pass, they all pass. Except for the ones who truly don’t want to learn and get noticed and laugh and be important and be included. But there are very few of those. I am not even sure God made kids like that, actually. What a preposterous idea to assume that some kids don’t want to get noticed and laugh and be important and be included.
However stonefaced a child appears to us in those first crucial days of class, don’t give them a pass. Give them the opposite. Give them the very first invitation to the Circling with Balls party. Hand the child a baseball bat and, with a sweeping gesture of your right arm, invite the child to step up to the plate, and then go to the pitcher’s mound and throw them a pitch that they can hit, and, when the ball goes out of the park, tell everybody to applaud.