Jeff 2

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10 thoughts on “Jeff 2”

  1. Karen:

    Don´t be apologetic about using songs–they are standard language classroom fare around the world. Ben may be right in his advice to drop the songs, but since I can´t live without music in my classroom, I want to give you some advice should you choose to keep them.

    First, you are the trained professional who gets to choose how to teach the language. Project that confidence as you explain to students and parents why you use music. Sing the first half of the Oscar Meyer (or some current ad) jingle and have them finish it. Maybe a light will come on and they will know that music is magic. It´s an easy way to get a phrase into long-term memory.

    Most of my kids are totally on board with singing, even goofy songs that high schoolers might think beneath them (and we just did itsy bitsy spider lsat week). But some kids don´t like to sing. I don´t make anyone sing, but I insist they lip sync convincingly. If they lip sync, they have to pay attention to the words and thus get CI, which is all I care about.

    I think the song may have become an issue because of having to stand in front of the class. Not all kids are comfortable performing a song in their LI–doing it in L2 is a little harder.

    It is rough to be compared to another teacher, but don´t let that intimidate you. You can be a wonderful YOU without being Señority Cooper.

  2. I think I would never ask an adolescent boy (or girl) to stand in front of the class and sing Itsy-bitsy spider. Unless I had a special relationship with the kid and knew that 1) they would willingly play along and 2) they were so high status in the group that no one would dare laugh at them. You can quickly nip a lot of the agitation in the bud by being honest and telling them and their mother that you probably should not have done that.

    On the other hand, I would not let them attack the way you organize your classes. Here’s the link from ACTFL that Skip sent in a while back. It should be required reading for all parents and administrators. Tell the mother that once she has read it, you can explain how you organize your classes. And stick to jGR, as Ben says.

    I always told my students on the first day that I wouldn’t be using the book or the workbook. That gave them time to return them or sell them to someone else. If your students are stuck with the workbook, could you find some activities that are worthwhile in it and assign them from time to time? For outside of class?

    Sabrina is right, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. And if you can make the big step of recognizing that the boys felt pretty humiliated performing in front of the class, the mother should be capable of hearing you explain that there is a reason to your madness.

  3. And songs really are fine but in the right setting in the right way. I never force anybody to do anything in my class. I’ll blurt out a song and even have a running joke where I ask them “Class, does the teacher sing?” (Yes!) and I circle that and then at the end of that circling I ask them if they want me to sing and they all say “No!” And I sing anyway. It’s a ritual that we all love.

  4. Speaking of the workbook, this is why I have the ClassJump site, to defend myself against parents who claim I don’t give homework. The site is in disarray because I don’t need it in my current school, where few students do anything outside of class. But I used it at East. It’s explained somewhere on this site. Here’s the link to when I had it at East:

    Click on the second page link called “French 2 Vocabulary Lists” (they’re not the right lists but you get the idea)

    (By the way, if you need to make a class website, this one is very user friendly.)

  5. I told the parents at the first parent conference that we weren’t going to use the “wordmaster” (vocabulary extension workbook, superfluous as a third leg) and they were happy to save the money. However, I didn’t yet dare to cancel the regular workbook and am now using the better exercises from it. Or short ones. And I am usually ahead of the workbook so that they find the exercises easy. Nevertheless I think next year I’ll not order any workbooks and ask the parents if I can spend the money on books for a class library instead.

  6. At my school, we are required to post homework on a website called HomeworkNow. Most of the kids don’t look at it but sometimes parents do. I put contests up there to get kids to check now and then. Anyway, this is the place I use to demonstrate the “structure” of my classes. It basically just shows the order we are do things like Mon: working on new vocabulary (then I list the words), Tue: Time to create a story, Wed: Continue working on story, Thu: Chinese character writing practice Homework: complete character and sentence writing, Fri: reading practice, Homework: prepare flash cards, Mon: Dictation, Homework: prepare for listening, reading, & writing quiz, Tue: Quiz, (then whatever I decide we are doing after the quiz like free write). I change the entries when we need more time on something. It reminds me what I am planning to do and it sets up the routine. It also sets up the “structure” that some of these parents are looking for. In fact, I give very little homework but this makes it look like there is more. Something like that might help with parents who like lists and need the structure.

    If it makes you feel any better, I am currently working on a kiddie song with my advanced kids. There are lots of great terms in the song and we did a story with the vocab. Yesterday, we read the song then the kids actually asked to hear it again and I told then they could sing it or read it outloud. Maybe you can use songs that the parents have never heard of so they won’t think it is too young for the kids.

    I had a long conversation with our Drama teacher yesterday that sounded just like what you are going through. He told me a story about how he had to meet with these awful parents who were mad that their daughter didn’t get cast as the lead in the school play. They bullied him and even made nasty remarks about his sexuality. The principal stood by his decision but didn’t call the parents out on their harassing remarks. It is pathetic what parents do these days.

  7. First of all for some positive feelings, don’t forget about all those other kids who give you their eyes and cute answers and make your job great. You can’t make everyone happy. I would suggest you meet with the parents and walk them through your procedures for teaching and how it benefits their kids. I would bring my research to the table. It’s hard to argue with research. Just an idea. You can’t have progress without some struggle.

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