Jeff 3

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15 thoughts on “Jeff 3”

  1. Totally agreed. I think that John and Ben have reminded us of the “centering” we have to do, almost daily. Remember who we are. Remember what we know about this process called language acquisition. Remember why it works for EVERYONE and remember how badly things went when we taught otherwise.

    From that kind of centered place, it’s been my own experience even with these kind of four percenter students and their parents that I can make myself an ally of theirs in order to get them into this fantastic process. I’m not talking about cow-towing to bad behavior. In these cases, I also remember that I am a four percenter, and some real part of me gets them. I have largely overcome that in myself, and they have not. Their four percenter abilities can and are their strength. We wouldn’t want to take that away from them anymore than the basketball coach wants the kid with the 16 inch biceps to stop workingout, BUT, he can see that those gun-like arms are out of control when he goes to the free throw line (sorry if you are not a b-ball fan, basketball is really the only sport that makes sense to me). The coach has to help him learn how to use those guns, gently, under control, with finesse, at the line.

    I am not necessarily suggesting that Jeff “must” do this kind of ally work with this girl and her parents right now. I think Jeff must get centered in what he is doing. From my vantage point, he is making huge steps in that direction. This is is first year as a full on CI teacher. Incredible things you are doing, Jeff!

    Along the way, if you can find a way to let this girl know that while you are in charge and you know what you are doing that you also understand what she is good at, that while you will let her do some of that work, you can help her best by helping her acquire this language, and her strengths (say in grammar study) will REALLY come to play in her third and fourth year when you have them writing their own original plays, stories for publication with artwork, etc. In the meantime, if she does not acquire the language by showing up each day and playing the game you set up, she won’t be able to do squat with her natural abilities in 2-3 years.

    We don’t want to get rid of the four percenters. We have to help them learn, too, but in other classes, in earlier years, they’ve been led to believe that they are above what most teachers are doing (and hell, frequently they are!). Not so in a CI classroom. They stand on even ground with the rest of us. That’s a new, quite honestly, maybe frightening experience to them. That’s okay. Other kids in the room are scared, too, for different reasons.

    Jeff, capitalize on any admin who shows a glimmer of understanding. Emphasize how this work WORKS for every kid in the room, but they cannot be exempt from the process. The process works. The process works. The process works. Except for those who refuse to enter the process.

  2. Jeffery Brickler

    Thanks for all the words. Right now I am struggling emotionally, I must admit. I am overwhelmed with being out of my comfort zone with learning all that there is to learn and being angry with myself because I am not doing a better job. I am getting attacked from several sides and I feel very vulnerable. I received an email from my high school principal yesterday afternoon saying that she wanted to see me on Monday without anything else. This kind of thing eats me up. The unknown. I think, “What now?”

    With all that said, I will try to read and re-read the points here. I will try to work with the mom and the daughter to come to a solution. If not, I will express to her what it means to drop the class. I agree that we want to have the 4%ers in the class, but the also must behave and be real individuals.

    I am certainly thankful for all of you. I will wait to hear more and keep everyone in the loop here. This PLC has certainly been the only thing keeping me going. When I was teaching to the 4%ers, no on said anything. When I teach to everyone and use best practices, I get attacked. Go figure. This is one strange world.

    I wait for others to let me know their thoughts. It is through this process that I will improve.


    1. Jeff, first, stop the self-beating. You are doing an INCREDIBLE job. None of this shit you are getting is a reflection on a “bad” job. In fact, it’s what I call stirring the pot. You are doing an amazing job, and the fact is that this kind of work stirs things up. In has in my work, and I’d lay good money that everyone here would agree that this kind of work stirs up stuff–among admins, colleagues, students, parents, etc. It is part of the learning.

      And second, what a piss-poor admin who writes an email like that on a Friday. I’ve had those before, too. They left me imagining the worst (so I get that it eats you up). They most often were not what I imagined, but that didn’t stop it from eating me up. So, find things to do this weekend that allow you to let go of this. It will be there waiting on you Monday morning. Meanwhile, enjoy something. Play with your kids. Go for a walk/run/swim. Make some good food and drink. Read a good book. You deserve it.

  3. Jeff,

    I feel your pain. I can offer help, maybe, by sharing my experience with 4 girls who just didn’t want to show up as human anymore. This happened this week and was finished by Wednesday (here’s hoping). 1 girl just doesn’t want to be in school. She refuses to make eye contact and wants to have conversations with a neighbor. Since my admin won’t take her out, she’s just going to get the kick from jGR…although she could care less about school. Girls 2 and 3 quickly came back to class when I told them that they would be responsible for the textbook grammar work as well as the CI work. That was too much of a challenge.

    ….and THEN there was Girl 4. She couldn’t decide in one class period and had to talk with her mother about it. The next day we had a private conversation in which she said that she and her mother thought it was unfair if she was expected to do ALL the work (both from individual textbook work in the back of the room and CI stuff). I was like a deer in headlights because I wasn’t sure how to answer that (maybe someone can let me know) so I just told her she was a 4%er, explained what it meant and how I knew because I am one too, and expressed to her how much she helps CI when involved. I gave her the option, therefore, of taking grammar work home if she’d help me in CI class. OF COURSE, she didn’t take the offer.

    When I called her mother, the woman was very understanding and said my explanation of how language works made sense because her daughter used to talk a lot of Spanish blabber at the dinner table in September and October but has stopped. She can’t be talking if she’s not listening in class, I assured the mom. To top it off the mo. Was confused why her 4%er daughter would decline individual grammar study if I was offering. Couldn’t she see the obvious? The kid just wants the book in class so she doesn’t have to show up as human IN CLASS.

    This is what it all comes down to. We are asking bookworms to hop out and interact. That’s scary. Jeff, you’re not alone and you’re our fighter. Don’t worry about the principal’s email. Resign yourself to the fact that it has something to do wih all of this and get your plan of action ready……or your walking papers. Honestly. Why do we have to put up with lack of admin support?

    1. Perfectly said jen with the focus of malfeasance being on the kid. Nice answer to the mom, by the way. Jeff has decided to fly lower under the radar, it is a good pragmatic reaction, but in the end we must keep in mind that what you said about this being about a WEAK ADMINISTRATOR WHO IS BOWING DOWN TO THE PARENTS and not GETTING THE NEW NATIONAL STANDARDS ABOUT COMMUNICATION as expressed in jGR and about a student bully is the real getstalt here. I think Jeff should get in there and set up his old way of teaching and then, within those parameters, spin a ton of interesting PQA and stories and extended PQA and circling and all the stuff that we do best, and just mix them as best he can. I would NEVER suggest mixing old and new unless a person’s job was on the line by stupid people, by the way, just to be clear on that. Jeff I am going to arrange a road trip to your school in January. Anyone wanting to go let me know. And what city are you in? Just kidding, but we ARE thinking of you, in spite of the unrequested, undeserved and unbelievable shitty ignorance heaped on your head today. One day at a time dude, one day at a time. This too shall pass.

  4. Jeff, I’ll start by reaching through the screen for a fist bump, from one Latin teacher who has decided to try to change everything in one year for the better to another. I have failed in so many way this year, and have had a few class periods revert back (for the day or for thirty minutes here and there) to the old ways which now make me sick to my pedagogical stomach. It sounds like you have been able to resist that temptation, for which I loudly applaud you.

    I relate a lot to what you have said here. In so many ways that I don’t really know where to begin. I might need to add more later as my thoughts get clearer. For now I’ll just say that I have a Latin 2 class with a corner of model-turned-difficult students. This is my third year as the sole Latin teacher at this school, my first ever using CI. When they signed up for Latin 2 last year they were not expecting it to be the way that it is. A small part of their frustration might be that they feel like victims of false advertising, even though that’s a stupid reason for a teenager to get upset about a class.

    I have a couple questions, Jeff, which might lead to some more analysis of the situation: First, were you her teacher last year in Latin 1? If so, what was the teacher-student-relationship like back then? And second, at what time of day does this class occur? My two least productive classes this year in terms of CI are both first hour, bright and early at 7:43.

    1. And please don’t misunderstand me. The child is wrong and acting badly. I am not trying excuse her or her mother’s actions. But I have found that understanding the (maybe stupid, maybe serious) reasons for a child’s behavior helps the adult to separate his or her emotions from the situation.

    2. Jeffery Brickler

      This class is the second to last class of the day. It is right after lunch. I’m not sure what/if anything is causing this.

      My wife, who is also a teacher, observed the troublesome girl at another event that we held last night. Interestingly, she called her a bully. My wife even was angry with how the young lady was treating our son. The girl was mocking him and making fun of him. I guess that she is just one of those pig kids.

      I’ll keep everyone up-to-date. I am having a meeting with the parent this week and also meeting with the principal tomorrow. Let’s hope that I can get this resolved. I can admit that I am so tired of this garbage.


      1. Jeff, trust your wife on this one. We as male teachers often try too hard to live in our cognitive world. Your wife’s intuition, especially as it relates to how people treat her son, is highly reliable. This girl is a bully, and she is trying to bully you. BTW, your wife was rightly angry with the way this girl was treating your son.

        I have a couple of good friends who are highly intuitive. One is in a medieval re-creation group to which I belong. Several years ago we were empress and emperor, i.e. national president and vice-president. During that time I learned to appreciate and trust her intuition; if she and I arrived at the same conclusion – she by intuition and I by reasoning – there was not a chance in the world that we were wrong. I see that operating here: you have pegged this girl as a trouble maker, and so has your wife (after a single encounter). End of discussion.

  5. I don`t like butting into this kind of thing, but looking at it from the sidelines, I would have to say I’m starting to seriously worry about Jeff’s position. I’ve seen people lose their jobs or suffer a career setback over this kind of bright student/parent rebellion before, and I would hate that to happen here.

    As far as I can see, the only reason Latin is still taught in schools today is because some people still think the old school badge is worth wearing. That’s what it’s all about. So if you get a new teacher not playing the game and upsetting the very people that the subject is kept on the books for, that defeats the whole purpose of the exercise. Older, more experienced teachers with a well established position – well maybe they can get away with rocking the boat a bit, but younger teachers had better watch out.

    This meeting might not be anything at all, but it might be a showdown. If you have a good principal, they will be looking for a strategy to come out of this with the school not looking too bad. They will probably be undecided about what to do – wondering whether to treat you like a young buck in need of a bit of guidance or whether to slap you down hard. You need to go in there with some unexpected arguments and a plan of action of a kind that will show the principal a way to back you and still come out looking strategically good, or suck up whatever medicine she decides to dole out.

    1. Henry,

      The good thing is that I have a continuing contract. I got it several years ago. I am confident that I am free from worries of losing my job, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t get quite a bit of grief about it. The funny thing is, I teach at two schools with two very different philosophies. The one, make parents happy and do what they want, the other, do what is right and teach the kids. If you are doing what helps kids learn, then you are doing the right thing. The funny thing is that I am getting grief from parents at both schools. I now have a meeting on Monday with the better of the two admins. This is why I am a bit worried. I am thinking that she just wants to hear what is going on.


  6. Jeff,

    Almost as soon as I hit the send button, I felt bad about what I said. Then I didn’t, then I did. The reason is that from the moment I saw that first parent letter, I predicted to myself exactly the scenario that has now played out, felt stupid that I didn’t say anything more because others know more than me and just in case you were headed for a cliff I should shout and gesticulate at you. I apologize.

    I do in fact however, think that the reason why some parents encourage their kids to take Latin and why some schools continue to offer it is more affected than they would openly admit by its history as a rite of passage for the children of the elite, and if the passage that is occurring is not what they expected then they feel they have been short changed somehow and want to throw their weight about.

    I really hope that you came up with or are coming up with something to get out of your jam. One idea I had if you were being forced to make changes of a kind you would rather not would be to tie in homework with the classroom behaviour assessment grade. Students who hate it to death can opt out and be graded on homework instead if they or their parents insist. However, they would still continue to get the other grading with a very poor result causing some reduction on what they could get on the basis of homework.

    Students could also make up their grade in the event of a sudden slipdown by doing homework as well. Ultimately most kids want to avoid the homework and therefore would try harder to stick with the softer option. Those that were hardcore against you, however, would have some place of refuge.

    Just an idea. Maybe you think it’s terrible.


  7. I think it’s a good idea and might work. It’s well conceived but may not play out well in action. The problem is in the complexity of things now. This shade vs. that shade of grading. Jeff’s intent to teach using what he considers best practices and the parents’ intent to keep him in the role of submissive memorization based tutor to their little Fauntleroys. For me the answer lies in the realm of lots of reading. If I were Jeff I would read my way to the end of the year. They learn a ton, but it doesn’t have the radical auditory piece. Jeff crawls to June, gets away from the clutches of the harpie students, and moves on. But I would defer to Patrick and that Latin crew on that reading idea.

    This all reminds me of in football when a running back gets smacked by two linebackers at once, driven back, is about to fall, and the rest of the team gets behind the runner and pushes him forward and there is a big scrum and no movement for about ten seconds. Then the runner may escape and make a touchdown, sometimes he never even falls down and the play is whistled over, and sometimes he falls on his ass. That seems to be where we are today with this, Jeff. Just don’t lose your helmet and know that we are pushing forward as hard as we can with you. If teaching is not a physical sport, no one can claim that it is not emotionally violent.

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