Classroom Management – 6

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13 thoughts on “Classroom Management – 6”

  1. Oddly, I find the opposite to be true. At the urban middle School where I teach 1 class (I spend the rest of my day at an elementary school), I have to give common assessments every 7-10 days. 3/4 of those assessments are vocab and grammar. On the days that I teach with CI through stories, just chatting, write and discuss, etc., my classroom is engaged and behavior problems are minimal. On the days I have to get the grammar in, we struggle. A LOT. Those grammar days are the days I spend more time telling kids to sit down, be bc quiet, go back to your chair, stop yelling across the room, etc. than actually teaching. I leave frustrated and defeated. When I can engage those same students in a story or teach about something that is going on in the world through very simplified language, the behavior problems are minimal and simple redirection works when they get off task. I leave with a smile on my face, excited for the next class on those days.

  2. Yeah Jenny this is more accurate. I will remove that section. How nice it is to have an instant content editing service for this new book right here on the PLC! I think I was trying to make the case for more engaged students needing more management but it’s just not true.

  3. Sean M Lawler

    Yeah, this classroom management topic is big. I imagine, Jenny M, that you don’t have behavior issues with your middle school students (by the way, you’re a superhero for teaching middle school even if just one class!) because you have that verve, that effervescence, and not to neglect, that spit and fire. We all need to know how to spit fire when we need to. That is, through our eyes. It’s not a job for the light hearted or thin skinned. But boy, if you can find joy in both inspiring and correcting students — we have to correct them. They are, we can’t forget, our future voters and caretakers — then this job is for you! And CI is for you because you will begin to be able to live your life, stay healthy, revive that once-loved hobby…

    Ben, I’m going to have to come back to this series of yours on Classroom Management. I think it was you who mentioned how when we reflect on our classroom management growth we must look internally. We must examine our own responses to students, thinking about if those responses came from a dark place: anger, despair, envy… or from a place of light and love. You can’t deny that groups of teenagers or preteens, or any children for that matter, can bring out the worst in us, right!? That comment has stuck with me this month.

    But yeah, I’m looking forward to reading through this series of classroom management posts.

  4. If CM – our new acronym for Classroom Management in this historically acronym-happy internet space – is looked at in the external mechanical terms (the current state of the art still languishes only there, in my opinion) but also if we do the internal work, then that will bring both poles of the topic together and we will then know what full command of the kids really means. I just have to get all the mechanical aspect articles written and posted here asap so I can get to what has been percolating in my deeper mind for YEARS now – that internal meditation, the greatest challenge of this work – how to engage a snotty adolescent without anger but complete power. Think of it. Imagine it. No rude kids! Like you said above, Sean – “…if you can find joy in both inspiring and correcting students — we have to correct them….”.

    If we can’t correct them, if we can’t be the adults in the room, then we might as well quit trying to learn how to do CI right now, bc without the CM piece, nothing good will happen. God bless all of us so that we can one day know what it feels like to be in total and calm control of a classroom, and to be able to instantly recognize and neutralize the little narcissists to whom we have given over our power. Did you know that one out of every 5 or 6 people in our population is a narcissist?

    So in a class or 30 students, we are typically going to have to deal with about 5 kids who don’t know how to act, who think only of themselves and who suck energy from the group, who can’t read social signals and how to convey respect and keep in line. I mean, they can’t do it. And we keep thinking they might change. Narcissists don’t change.

    Well, I’ve just given away a portion of the book I want to write this year – how to recognize the vampires in the group and how to avoid enabling them and becoming their empathic victims. If anyone wants to really get control of your classroom, I recommend you get Christiane Northrup’s book, Dodging Energy Vampires and read it and internalize its message before school starts. It has changed my life.


      I have been the victim of two seriously debilitating narcissists in my life and in both cases it took me years to recover. Time healed the first one, and the Northrup book mentioned above helped me get through to a nice fairly rapid recovery in the case of the second one, so I am very grateful for that. Can you even imagine what it must be like to have someone move in on your life and slowly make you think – completely inaccurately – that you don’t have any personal power and you need them to provide that for you? They end up cleverly and slowly stealing your gold and, as Northrup says, they leave you lying by the side of the road once they have what it was that the3y wanted from you. Vampires are tricky, and they never can recognize what they are, how they hurt others. That’s the really dangerous part. This will all be addressed in the new classroom management book. Students who function as vampires in the room have RUINED COUNTLESS CAREERS.

        1. Narcissists comprise 20% of all populations. They are charming, often successful, and yet lethal. They often don’t know what they are. They pick empathic souls to drain, because empaths are often blind to the vampires. Thus, 1 of 5 of our students have strong narcissistic traits. That needs our attention. Best book I’ve read on it is by Dr. Christiane Northrup: Dodging Energy Vampires. It will help you in classroom management big time.

  5. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    I am nodding vigorously at all of this! Yes we need to understand what triggers our own responses in the moment, and how to modify/control those personal behaviors. Bryce Hedstrom does a fabulous session on teacher body language (partly based on Fred Jones, I think?) at the conferences.
    Are we agitated, tired, sad, nervous, hungry?
    We also must try to understand and empathize with the high-flyers and understand what informs the kids’ behavior. In elem we try talking to the classroom teacher, social worker or SPED team, etc. We can talk directly to the student/s privately to see if there’s any insight about the disruptive/distracting behavior; the parents are a whole other level that I am usu hesitant to embark on unless absolutely necessary…
    One of the keys to building trust w/difficult community members (at least for me in elem) is to send a strong msg that I’m not going to give up – I’m going to try different strategies and continue to tweak until Joey can be his best self in class – if that means changing seats; sending a silent gesture signal w/eye contact when there’s an infraction; giving extra jobs/movement; allowing a cuddle toy (YES! a furry lil bunny puppet was so helpful this past fall); extra scaffolding before/during/after class whispered in ear; sitting in chair instead of on floor; and the list goes on…

    1. Alisa as I reflect back on how I personally changed over 40 years in terms of “sticking with” certain kids (although middle and high school kids are so different in terms of management than the little ones), I see that I always hung in there with kids as long as they showed some desire to hang in there with me.

      However, there is a kind of secondary school kid whose oppositional defiance (either in the form of shutting completely down or acting out – the two extremes – I just let those kids go. I enlist admin help with both. I am intensely aggressive about getting those kids removed from class in the first week or ten days. Indeed, not doing that right at the beginning of the year has cost me. There are some kids who shouldn’t be in class. I wrote a series of articles called Pigs Can’t Fly here a few years ago. They can’t. This topic of “when to give up on certain kids” is a big one and I hope to get to it in this unfolding book. A key is learning how to identify socially incapable kids. I will sometimes let a completely shut-down kid stay in the classroom, of course – we all do that out of compassion. But with the verbally violent aggressors, I tolerate nothing. I meet them (not in front of the class, of course) with force that takes many forms.

      We are not miracle workers. For the wee ones, we probably can be, but oh boy if we could make a FB page where teachers talk about “their worst secondary students” we’d have some stories to tell! Mine would include Mildred, Kyle and Rafael.

  6. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    If we’re lucky, a faculty member or specialist will advocate on behalf of said kid and help us articulate to the powers that ‘so and so’ is just not available for instruction. Once I was completely befuddled by a kid – so I called in the SLP (Speech Teacher) to observe a lesson w/his class – I thought it was a good lesson (for the rest of the kids). She simply came up to me and said how clear it was that he wasn’t available for the instruction – that it had NOTHING to do with the class – and she set the paperwork in motion to have him further assessed. He ended up in a pullout in SPED during Spanish…I’ve read posts here over the years on kids getting identified for all sorts of LDs by the WL teacher – turns out he had lots of issues incl auditory processing…

  7. What we get in high school a lot are oppositionally defiant kids who joust w us in the first weeks to see who can get the power. When they understand that the class is about rigorous listening and focus, they often rebel, and if we can’t get them out in the first few weeks, we have them for the year. My prayer is that schools function on behalf of teachers like happens in your school. We’re not always so lucky.

    Have a good time in Florida! Represent! Anybody here going to iFLT go to Alisa’s session!

    Related to this is this article from the Primers hard link above:

    Robert Harrell – Advice to an Embattled Teacher/Clarification of Rigor

    I’m sorry to hear you are getting grief from your administrator about rigor. It sounds to me like he attended a meeting and received a one-size-fits-all worksheet. I think you need to educate him (nicely, of course) about what rigor is and what it looks like in a language acquisition classroom.

    As I continue to talk to people – including my students – about rigor, I have expanded a bit on my definition, though the base and core remain the statements provided by the US Department of State. This week I concluded that my students needed a reminder of what the class is about, so I had some discussion with them. When I got to the section on rigor, I began by asking them to define “Academic Rigor” or tell me how they decide if a class is rigorous. Then I gave them my own definition: Academic Rigor means that an educational experience is designed to help students 1) understand knowledge and concepts that are complex or ambiguous and 2) acquire skills that can be applied in a variety of educational, career, and civic contexts throughout their lives.

    Next I shared with them the four elements of rigor that the Department of State gives and one that I have added:
    1. Sustained focus
    2. Depth and integrity of inquiry – paying attention to what is going on until I understand it, can reproduce it, and can explain it in my own words. I clarify if I don’t understand, and I contribute appropriately to the conversation or discussion.
    3. Suspension of premature conclusions – I do not listen to only a few words and then think that I know what is being said. I listen to complete statements and questions and think before trying to formulate a reply.
    4. Constant testing of hypotheses – I try out the language and then listen for feedback. If I used the language correctly, I will get confirmation; if I said something wrong, I should get a re-statement with correct language or other help.
    5. Person Challenge – I do not take the easy way out but am always trying to improve both my understanding and my performance. I do not allow a failure to understand make me give up or be frustrated but strive to clarify and understand.

    I also addressed the issue of mindset, although I didn’t use the term.
    There are two ways of thinking:
    If I think my ability or intelligence is fixed, then I will do everything I can to protect myself
    If I think I can increase my ability and intelligence through challenging myself, I will not see walls but bridges to success

    Perhaps you can have a meeting with your administrator to discuss the concept of rigor. Ask him what his definition of rigor is. If you do a search and look through various websites that discuss rigor, most are careful to distinguish rigor from simply more or harder work. The Department of State website even cites Alfie Kohn. “Academic rigor does not imply harshness or severity. In a recent interview, Alfie Kohn (in O’Neill & Tell, 1999) states, ‘A lot of horrible practices are justified in the name of “rigor” or “challenge.” People talk about “rigorous” but often what they mean is “onerous,” with schools turned into fact factories. This doesn’t help kids become critical, creative thinkers or lifelong learners (p. 20).’”

  8. Regarding your original article here, Ben, there’s also the problem of textbook WL teachers being told to have students work in small groups in order to get them more engaged. And the push for small groups in general. Students teaching students to get that distinguished mark on the Danielson Framework.

    CI teachers, rather, you might say, tease students more than engage them. We tease them. That’s a better word to use. We tease them to want to respond to us in mid-conversation when, in reality, we don’t want them to respond. At least, not too much. We want them to listen. We tease them to listen by building suspense. We tease them to listen by being unpredictable. We tease them by giving them jobs in which we genuinely need their help. We tease them through charisma. We tickle them with love. Ha!

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