It’s almost like the issue of Classroom Management is at such a critical point that we can just start calling it CM, since we here in the PLC already have a long history of acronym-worshipping. Bryan sent this:

Salut Ben,

I was reading “The Smart Classroom Management Plan for High School Teachers” by Michael Linsin, and it had the wonderful idea of giving a daily grade for listening and participation. This isn’t really new, but the part I really like is that one infraction for listening immediately results in a 50% reduction in points for the daily listening points. A second infraction results in no points for the daily listening points. He does this for both listening and participation. All you have to do is put a dot or a tally next to the student’s picture on your seating chart, and then subtract those points at the end of the day (or more realistically) at the end of the week. This gives the Interpersonal Communications Rubric some major bite, and makes it simple to use.

I modified it a bit for my classroom, but the idea of it is sound. I’m going to start using this modification tomorrow. I think it will make life much easier.

I thought this would be helpful for making it super clear to students what expectations are and how they can earn their grade.

Have a great week, and I’m looking forward to the classroom management book! It’s going to make a lot of people’s lives so much better!


My response is that this will work for some but only those who can think in this way. For me, all classroom management must arise from the students’ desire to want to behave properly and so things must be set up that way, on that premise, a premise of teaching decency, if you will. Many teachers say that it is not in their job description to do that. I call that selfish inaction. In this society right now, it is a social responsibility. It is my view that the teacher should of course work to enforce the rules and call out kids from time to time, etc. but that the general thrust of classroom management in my opinion should be intrinsic and not extrinsic in nature. Let’s keep this dialogue at the forefront of our discussions here from now until, say, a century from now, when things will be a lot better.



10 thoughts on “CM”

  1. I have an update: The problem that I found with it was that I ended up feeling like I was just looking for the wrong things instead of focusing more on the positive. Also, several students said that they immediately started feeling more stressed out in class because they were worried about getting docked points. It was just a little too extreme, so I switched it back to A = almost 100% of the time, B= most of the time, C= hit and miss, D-F= little to none. It just felt too punitive, and not focusing on a positive classroom climate like I prefer. (There needs to be balance, for sure…)

    Also, with my seventh period class (that has been causing problems because of their disfunction as a group) we had a “coming to Jesus” moment this Thursday. I had been much stricter and giving them a lot more reading, writing, and grammar the last couple of weeks in response to their behavior. I started off telling them that I really cared for them as a class, and that I want it to be a successful class. It was actually a very powerful moment. I broke down and cried (which I rarely do… It’s probably been a few years since I really cried like that, and I have never done that in front of a class before. Part of it is that I barely slept the night before, and there have been many nights where I have woken up and worried about it, and not been able to fall back asleep, or very poorly.). I told them that I really hate having to be strict and “mean” to them, but I really have no choice as a teacher if they can’t meet me halfway and do their part to make class successful. I really want the class to be positive, and enjoyable. I asked them if they were happy with how the class was going, because I wasn’t. I said we need a fresh start, and we need to come together as a team. Otherwise, they know what the other option is.

    I then told them that as a French 2 class they are expected to read more, and do some more writing than they did in French 1, and that there are certain things that I require of them that they may find boring because I want them to acquire the language. I then had them get into groups and come up with some ideas on how to improve the class, and what works best for them. Some of their ideas I don’t entirely agree with (from an SLA perspective), but I’m willing to give them some of what they want if they’re willing to give me more of what I want in the class. They then shared their ideas as I took notes and made comments, and we clarified some things. They then turned in their group’s list so that I had the original copy as well. It was a very fruitful time, and I actually ended up asking my other French 2-4 classes what some of their thoughts and ideas were for improving the class. I didn’t ask French 1, because I think they need some more experience in the class and more skin in the game before I do something like that. I actually wish I had asked earlier on in the year. Quite a few of the things were ideas that I already had for the class (such as having more French culture), but I hadn’t yet implemented.

    Afterwords I felt a huge weight off of my shoulders, and I felt much more at peace and in tune with my students. On Friday I immediately started implementing some of their ideas and showed them the list that I compiled for future changes (saying that I wouldn’t be able to make all of the changes, nor make them immediately- it would take time), but that I was serious about improving the class for them if they were willing to meet me halfway and work together as a team. It was a big moment for them and for me. So, whether I have to turn back to more draconian measures in the future (which I hope I won’t…) or not, I really feel like we have a new chance to move forward together. I feel like there is much more buy in than before. My other French 2 class even gave me a card thanking me for all that I do, and several students let me know how much they appreciate me. In the future I’m going to start the year off in French 2-4 asking students what some of their ideas are for the year so that they have more buy in, and feel like they have a say. This has been huge for me (and I believe for them as well).

  2. I would be curious what that French 2 class suggested to you as ways of improving the class. I love that kind of free and open dialogue about things, and have come close to crying as well in front of classes, just out of frustration that the communication was so low sometimes between us. Such open dialogue is necessary. BUT whenever I did invite their ideas I found that they suggested things that had too much to do with output, along with games from traditional classes that they had enjoyed in the past, and so I stopped asking them. Big stuff there, Bryan and thank you for honoring one of the main focal points of this PLC – honest and open dialogue about what we REALLY GO THROUGH in our classrooms on a daily basis. So what did they suggest and did it align with what you know to be best WL practices?

    1. There were quite a few ideas, which I haven’t had time to process yet (but I will get those to you soon). And, yes, some of them will have to be nixed because they don’t align with CI and/or my own mental health.

      One idea is that they want more culture (similar Tina’s push to get some more culture into second year classes). I haven’t had much time to look into the CALP stuff that Tina is putting together, but I will. In the meanwhile I put together a research project for my French students so that they can do the research, create presentations, get the presentations to me, and then I would edit them, and make sure everything is in simple French, and show them every now and then as I am able to work through them. I would present them myself, and talk about them with the class. Here are the project handouts:

      French 2:

      French 3:

      French 4:

      I like the idea of having them decide what topics are interesting to them. Plus, if their presentations aren’t up to snuff and/or are boring they can’t blame me… Also, after I build up a library of some of the better ones I will have those ready for future years/classes. Feel free to share if you find them useful.

  3. WOW! Bryan this is powerful. Thank you for your courage. These types of interactions are essential. Not just for the “classroom management” or the “program” but for real life harmony. We are so programmed to ignore emotion. You modeled honest communication of emotion and asked for help and facilitated open dialogue. So huge! I’m so inspired by this. You are modeling deep honesty and the intention to connect and understand each other. Nothing is more important than this!

  4. I feel so awful that your kids pushed you over the edge to tears, Bryan, but I am not at all surprised. We show up fully with all our emotions when we (CI) teachers come to work. Our heads and hearts are in sync, and we are in the moment – no time to intellectualize and turn off/stuff down our feelings…
    If people in cubicles had any idea what a human-interaction-intensive career like ours even was, they’d be shocked. Sometimes I simply cannot believe what we do for a living.
    Anyhoo, in elementary we are trained and it is not surprising or in any way questioned that classroom management is THE MOST IMPORTANT glue holding the rest together. Our youngest kids are trained about the classroom environment – where and what the materials are, how and when to use them and care for them. Routine – predictability is laid in from the get go, and blended with decoding – such that the day’s schedule is both a salve (‘recess is next!’) and an opportunity for number recognition and sight words/decoding. How to greet a classmate, how to interact, communicate, problem solve, walk in the hallways – these are all explicitly taught and regularly practiced, both with morning meetings and when situations arise. As a specialist, I try to borrow from my talented early childhood colleagues, and spend the first few weeks with my first graders growing familiar with a tight routine (greeting song with gestures; name tag distribution, some gestures and rejoinders during input time; leave taking and line-up time…) This builds trust and confidence, and not a little bit of foundational language.
    As the students move on to 2nd, 3rd and 4th grades, the classroom culture is fortified by the predictability (though I change it up for developmental appropriateness and language) and (hopefully?) fond memories of years past. My Ss generally help new move-ins acclimate to ‘my game,’ even as I up the literacy ante, and layer on new expectations, such as a jobs, and experiment with new ways of delivering CCCI.
    At the core I am constantly and unapologetically trying to maintain an input-conducive environment. I feel that many teachers of older kids (middle & high school) struggle with this reality – maybe they want to be a ‘cool teacher’ who doesn’t have to remind/insist/request/re-do, or invest/ persist with their management efforts. But we must!
    I was training a group of ill-behaved teachers this summer, and found myself having to insist on attention by stopping, giving Bryce Hedstrom’s Queen of England facial expression and stance, and going back to the beginning of the point I was making. Later I learned that this group was never held to any behavioral expectation and that taking and making cell phone calls during faculty mtgs, passing notes, chatting with colleagues (loudly) were never considered disrespectful nor were the Ts held accountable to any behavioral standard…. So they were engaging in all these distractions, oblivious to the fact that it prevented others from attending! One teacher came up to me and apologized for his colleagues’ disrespect, saying that he was personally ashamed for their behavior and for his administrator’s lack of oversight.
    All that to say that I think we need to wipe the slate clean, as we did with textbook teaching, and embrace classroom mgmt as the glue that holds the rest together. As Ben has gently reminded us countless times, we need to hold our standard high and not veer from it. If it takes a tally pad to ‘threaten’ a chat with the parent, (or in my case, the homeroom teacher, first), so be it. I think we are victims of magical thinking, hoping and wishing that our class will be so compelling that all behavior issues will melt away, and angry when they don’t. Instead, we need to pause and point to our norms with a smile (Tina is MASTERFUL on her videos!), and follow up as needed.
    I don’t want to sound toooo fuddy-duddy, but the old adage about “Discipline Before Instruction” is absolutely true. It changes over the years – what I do with first graders will look differently than what you do with HS juniors – but they share a common purpose – to build a friendly and trusting community and maintain a CI-conducive environment.

    1. Alisa of course we know that Bryce is talking about the Queen Elizabeth Stare of Fred Jones, correct? I know that in this work it is very hard to know where something came from, but in this case this is clearly Fred’s idea. I would be extremely disappointed if Bryce is not crediting Fred for this. I won’t go further into that here.

      And the CCCI, I bet a few of our readers would like to know what those other two C’s are. I am guessing one is Compelling as per Krashen, but what is the other one?

      And just to be meticulous in crediting, that discipline before instruction expression is all Susan Gross in terms of the history of the CI/TPRS community. I remember the first time she told me that in about 2002. I was in Golden, CO taking her for her Starbucks Latte before a workshop she was doing and it struck me that that phrase was of immense importance so much that I remember exactly where I was in that parking lot that day, an indelible image.

      Thanks for your wonderful thoughts. Can never get enough of them. Am learning so much about Elementary CI from you.

  5. Thanks for the update and very candid post. I have a similar class which is a grind. I need to do this! I also like how you simplified your grading rubric.

  6. I like seeing that word candid being used here. We ain’t playin’. We are not going to pretend that everything is fine. Everything is not fine. Many of our students are so rude and inattentive that they would be best off doing something else. But by an odd quirk in our collective karma, we find ourselves every day standing in front of people who are very hard to love. Good for us, I guess, in the long run, because it will teach us like few if any other professions the divine qualities of patience, compassion, tolerance. etc. but not good for us in the short run where we have to suffer so much mentally in this profession in what is a very grinding yearly trudgement. The good news is that now w the non-targeted approach we can take it to those kids. They are no match for the Invisibles. We got this Jeff and other who are brave enough to talk real talk here. (Anybody like my new word trudgement? It describes it, right?)

  7. CCCI – I heard this term from Carol Gaab: Contextualized, Compelling, Comprehensible Input.
    I’m referring to Bryce’s fab presentation on Teacher’s Body Language – he is meticulous about crediting concepts so it very well may be Fred Jones’ – sorry but I don’t recall.
    I do believe the phrase, ‘Discipline Before Instruction’ precedes both Fred and Susie, though I haven’t been able to track down its origins. As I’ve said, it is a bedrock for elementary Ts.

    I love the term ‘trudgement,’ though of course I don’t always love the actual trudgery. The other day I subbed from 5:30-6:00 at my after school Hebrew gig (I’m not really teaching there this year – I’m mentoring & coaching). Anyway a brand new T who’s only had 2 hours of a 1-shot T/CI training had to leave early that day, so I agreed to step in. It was the last half hour of an after school program, 11x 7th graders. So that was like these kids’ 10th hour of classroom trudgement.
    Talk about walking into the lion’s den.
    Anyway, I could tell when I set foot that what had preceded was an absolute lack of class norms and standards. Pencil flinging, loud snack munching, side convo’s, doodling, flirting/showing off –
    some heads down…I was looking serious trudgement in the eye.
    This group knew me and my game from last year, but hey, now they were big-shot 7th graders, so we were back to Ground Zero.
    I whipped them into shape by grabbing the legacy ‘activity’ she had left them to do and fashioning a scene with some Q’s. I would like to think that there was finally some real & compelling/creative CI for that session. But way more importantly, that the kids could feel the diff when a T with presence – who owns the room and commands attention – or at least no blatant disrespect – in the room.
    I have the second training with this partially new teacher group coming up in a few weeks and I see I will have to focus first on establishing a CI-conducive classroom through positive but unrelenting management. I did once observe the teacher in the first few weeks and I could tell she struggled with wanting to be liked and seeming ‘cool.’ (She looks and dresses totally cool!) That’s one good thing about being a language nerd middle-aged mom with thick eyeglasses – no worries or pressure about passing for ‘cool’ among 7th graders.


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