Pigs Can’t Fly 6

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11 thoughts on “Pigs Can’t Fly 6”

  1. Ben,
    Thank you for sharing the fact that you, too, continue to have oppositional behavior in your classes (or at least you did until today). It is so frustrating for me to have the one kid who doesn’t stop talking to whomever he is seated next to, or who blurts out stuff in English, etc. etc. etc. My first period class is full of wonderful 9th graders who are eager to listen and participate, but they are kept quiet and intimidated by the behavior of the few who use this “bullying the teacher” behavior of passively-aggressively disrupting the learning environment. Today I spoke to the counselor, for the 3rd time, about one kid in particular who will not meet me half way. I told her I needed her to set up a parent conference because I have had no luck in making contact. I have called home, to an answering machine, several times. I am so tired of the struggle. The only thing that keeps me going right now is knowing that TPRS is the best method to use and that I only have 2 weeks left before finals week to have to deal with this kid. I also am hoping that some kind of change will happen when I meet with the parent.
    So, thanks again for the posting about your challenging student. It helps to know that I am not the only one trying to figure out how to work with this kind of kid. – Louisa

  2. Nothing will happen with the parent, is my guess. And getting to this in November, both of us get 20 lashes with a wet noodle for that lapse. Today, along with the good news, my boss told me that I didn’t document enough (trust me, I did a lot of documenting) and he was right that in this system there have to be so many red flags, like enough to cover a golf course, each documenting events of the behavior and especially phone calls home, discussions with counselors, with the student, and on and on. That is the world we live in. I’m so happy to know that you no longer have to teach the kid in a few weeks. But we both learn that the squeaky wheel with lots of support from higher ups and lots of documentation is about the only way to go here. Generally, parents of kids like this are not much involved in the kid’s life, are often critical of teachers, and cannot be swayed. That is a gross generalization, I know. It’s funny that when I was much younger I thought I could rehabilitate these kids. I would have some dumb ass fake parent conference loaded with platitudes and nothing would come of it. Such bullshit I believed would work. It probably cost me hundreds of hours of sleep over the years. Act when you must and be aggressive is my motto now. The hardest thing to read in what you said was how the other kids were intimidated. That should never happen in any classroom, let alone one in which trust is the underlying foundation of the class. I remember back in the 18th century we could just grab them by the nose or ears hard, and pull them thus out of the room. Those were the days!

    1. My rose colored glasses have been slowly becoming transparent as I start seeing that there is no changing some kids and by the time they reach 7th/8th grade a lot of those kids have become the person they are going to be for a while. And the rose color in my glasses has been fading as I read more and more hostility towards teachers in different letters to the editor in newspapers and listen to the lack of respect people have for this profession. It’s a wonder that people even still choose to become educators.

  3. This resonates with me today as I reflect on the three students in my period 2 class who are ruining the flow, and intentionally and maliciously. I can give some wiggle room to enthusiastic students who blurt because they are excited, I can train them and guide them. But these three kids are making paper airplanes in class and intentionally derailing the conversation with their blurting. I have used the ANATTY classroom management plans, documented everything with the dean and now I need to write up removals. It sucks and I hate it. They only get removed for one day the first time, but maybe that will be enough to show the class what it is like when they aren’t there. Thankfully I have great buy in for all my other classes and I end the work day with a small class of incredibly good-natured kids who make me smile for a full 43 minutes.

  4. Carly I was talking to Jake today and we came up w an idea to throw a worksheet at such classes – really at those three kids – for 20 min. to start class w a quiz after each worksheet. After three or four days the paper airplane kids see their grades tank. When their grades tank, they get worried.

    Second step of this plan: for the second half of class do Category B drawings – these are the individually created images and they are the most interesting. Celebrate the drawings. Use any kids w jobs against the three kids. How? Tell the leaders of the class, the ones w jobs, etc. that they have your permission to turn and glare on those kids, and say stuff, and (what is really happening) put them in their place.

    Then at 65% of jGR – giving that grade every day as well – you can collect two devastating grades per class period. That is the purpose of the plan, to get, within a week, those three kids flunking. Then call parents w the news of their “drop in performance”. On the phone or in the email mention how it’s connected to their lack of concentration in class.

    Ask for an actual parent meeting w the one of the three who is the ringleader.

    Such a response to kids like you describe is aggressive and sends the message that you will find a way to drop their grade FAST when they are intentionally malicious. And then if their behavior didn’t change dramatically after two or three weeks of this new “heavy grading” policy in that particular class I would I would KEEP their grade down, as long as I had to to win.

    Just a thought – it might work. It’s all based on the idea that a failing kid is easier to motivate than a kid who is not failing.

  5. I totally agree with you Ben about finding a way to get those kids a failing grade. After you teach with CI for some time you get to find ways to become savvy with Gradebook so that you can base practically all your grade weight on jGR.

  6. Sean said:

    …after you teach with CI for some time you get to find ways to become savvy with Gradebook so that you can base practically all your grade weight on jGR….

    The irony here is that the entire grade is best rendered from 100% jGR, but people can’t seem to hear that. It is because they don’t fully understand the research, which among so many other things tells us that we can’t quantify what has been learned in a language class (vs. other classes). These “school minds” assume that language gains are quantifiable. But if everything is going into the unconscious “soup” as per Krashen’s Natural Order of Acquisition hypothesis, then this is incorrect. This is why savvy and experienced teachers here like jen and Sean know how to play the system and grade mostly in terms of observable non-verbal behaviors, which give the greatest indication possible of what has been/is being acquired, all as per the research.

  7. Friends, as promised, here’s how it went (see Ben’s 2nd to last post). The first half of the class was rough. People not working, cell phones out (had to confiscate 2 of them; 1 student refused), heads down, taking 3 requests for people to sit down, etc. Then they went to lunch (we’re on the 90 minute block). They came back and we did our worksheet and quiz. Most of them bombed the quiz and put their heads down. They were worried for sure. After the sobering reality of the quiz, they were quiet. I then gave them a speech about CI and the rules and how we have two options, because either way, we’re learning Spanish. Our 2 options are what we’ve been doing the last couple weeks (the book and worksheets) or having a conversation in Spanish according to the ACTFL standards. I drew their attention to the gallery in the back and said I want to do that with them, but I brought everything back to the rules. I said they have to be on board with the rules otherwise, we’ll have to go back to the book. So, in the meantime, we’d be doing half of the class in the book and the other half with CI. They were happy with this.

    We then went into Category B (ICI to tableau). For the last 30+ minutes I explained what I wanted (providing examples from their peers in other classes). They got a big kick out of it. Then they drew their hearts out. It was lovely. I left that class light as a feather. People who were combative and apathetic towards me 30 min. before were now working quietly or with a friend, laughing and creating. I have to say, I’m feeling a burden being lifted.

    The only problem was that my worst-behaved student was not there today, so she missed “the speech”. I also didn’t get a chance to see how she’d react to everything. She’s unpredictable and like a time bomb.

    So all-in-all, wonderful day. I will put one in the “Win” column and dance home atop a cloud to my wife and son 🙂 Thanks for the support, friends.

    1. I am so happy to hear this! I think it is a good thing that student wasn’t there. It gives the class a chance to see what the room can FEEL like without all that negative energy.

      Sounds like you worked hard to get this good result, congratulations! Keep up the great work!

  8. Cateogry A is simply there to set up Categories B and C, is how I see it. By going to his big Cat. B gun in this difficult class, while testing them on the worksheet given in the first half of class, Jake was able to shift the entire energy of his class to the positive side. AND he put a second grade into the book after the grammar quiz – the jGR grade to report what they did in the second half of class w the image creation. This plan, after one week, will give him major leverage on the kids in class who weren’t taking it seriously. Ten new grades in a week will do things to a kid’s grade that nothing else can. Plus, he gave the elevator speech (described here a few weeks ago).

    What I like here is that Jake went after a bad class and, through careful planning and a positive attitude himself, totally switched the class. Maybe pigs CAN fly.

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