Report from the Field – Jason Bond

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21 thoughts on “Report from the Field – Jason Bond”

  1. “Iā€™m more or less left alone to do my thing”

    Despite what your boss says, if what she DOES is leave you alone for the most part, as long as you don’t make life more difficult for her via parent complaints, then you are in a good position to implement CI, as long as it is subtle.

    Personally, I would take what she says about rioting and run with it. This basically gives you the green light to deal with the most disruptive kids via JGR Interpersonal standards. When I have students who are spacing out but not disrupting, I don’t put their JGR grade in the toilet partly because their performance on frequent quizzes and tests will take care of their grade. Then, when your student or their parents ask you what the problem is, you can point to the student’s continued lack of awareness in class as the primary cause. This will be somewhat indirect, but a more productive way of encouraging your shy ones to plug in, without getting on your boss’s nerves.

    As for the use of English, you can reassure her that you are using English to clearly establish meaning, and to check in with students (e.g. “can someone tell me what I just said?”)

    Making a few small adjustments, not so much in how you teach, so much as how you DESCRIBE the way you teach to your boss, combined with your students’ gains in the upper levels, will certainly allow you to keep doing what you are doing, and slowly, gently, convincing your 4%er boss of the wisdom of your method. Asking for supportive parents to voice their support (in words or even better, in writing) will certainly help you to do this.

  2. I think that it might also help to revisit the jGR that you are using with your students…in a firm but positive way. Show them how easy it is raise their own grades with a few simple steps. Thank them in class when you see that they are following your expectations. These kids are used to receiving A’s and B’s. They are used to having their egos fed. (I mean this in the nicest possible way.) You have inadvertently set them up to go ‘cold turkey” as we say to live without that food. It is very very hard for them. (and apparently their parents).

    The other thing that you may have to consider, as others have, is that the percentage of the grade that is the jGR may have to be altered for this age group. They come to you without experience with this behavior. You may be able to count it as 20% year 1, 25% year 2, etc….raising the % as they spend more time with you and as they mature with age.

    Just thinking aloud. We do need to feed our students’ needs to some extent in order to create the give and take relationship required in an acquisition-based classroom.

    I love your passion and am very jealous of your students’ opportunity to acquire Gaelic!!!!!

    with love,
    Laurie

    1. Thanks for your kind words Laurie! I can see how it would be hard for the kids used to getting their straight As. I try to give them positive post-it notes for hard work, improved behaviour, etc. My wee pad of post-its is one of my favorite tools.

      Right now, I use JGR as 100% of their mark as term reports over here are marked on a 1-4 scale in behaviour and effort, ie: 1 for behaviour = always behaves, 2 = usually behaves, etc. Overall their quiz scores are quite good and I’m worried that the kids who have side conversations will end up getting As simply because of their quizzes. In my eyes, that would reinforce that they don’t need to pay attention to get an A and open Pandora’s box.

      1. James, could you clarify this business about the term reports being marked on a 1-4 scale in behaviour and effort? Perhaps part of the issue is trying to match your grading system, including jGR, with this school-wide grading system.

        Other questions: how long are your class periods with the younger kids? How many students?

        I’m finding the need to start each class not with a bell ringer, but with my presence in the front and a review of behaviors. I’ll talk to students in the TL about who is present, who is absent, the weather, about who is sitting, standing, chatting, who needs to sit up, face forward… rounding up the attention of more and more students until all the class has settled. Some days this takes longer than others, but I’m cool with it because it’s in the TL. (Don’t know if that helps.)

        Ditto on what Laurie said about your passion. Your commitment to this stuff motivates me.

        1. No worries Sean – the marking system for first and second years are a 1-4 scale (1 being highest and 4 being lowest) because they are still doing their broad general education requirements and get to the standardized exams in third year. Thus, they receive marks in 3 categories: behaviour, effort, and homework.

          I’ve made behaviour and effort mirror each other, ie: if kids are getting a 1 for behaviour then they’ll get a 1 in both Behaviour and Effort categories. My train of thought is that if they’re doing all the A/1 skills on jGR, then they’re making a strong effort to acquire the language. I don’t assign homework so that category is left blank. After talking to my folks (ESL teachers) and seeing how others weight their grades, I’m wondering if I should enter their quiz scores as Effort to offset a possibly low Behaviour mark and keep the peace a bit more.

          Thank you both for your comments on my passion. The Gaelic language and folkloric tradition has brought all kinds of wonderful thoughts and perspectives to my life over the last six years and I hope I can pass a bit of that wonder onto the kids. šŸ™‚

      2. Hi Jason,

        I teach this age group, too. They have developing self-control. I more or less count students in the A-range if they are positively contributing to class as a habit, B-range if they are passive but habitually not disruptive, C-range if they have a habit of disrupting class, having side conversations, and/or blurting out in English.

        I’m assuming that you step nearer to the kids having side conversations? That you are noting that problem every time it occurs? I don’t usually let those side conversations pass by without a correction. I also remind them that it affects their grade how they respond in class. My students also sometimes fill out the jGR form and then I can respond to that.

  3. My thing is to stop teaching at every single infraction. So when a kid starts talking and my Classroom Rule #2 – https://benslavic.com/Posters/classroom-rules.pdf – says “One person speaks and the others listen.” I just listen to them and wait for them to stop, noting the problem when it occurs as Diane mentioned.

    When this is done, they get higher marks on jGR. In my opinion Jason you are asking for trouble with jGR weighing that much. You don’t have ACTFL and the Three Modes to back you up over there. Here we can say that jGR is connected to the national standards.

    It’s a fine line, but those kids must be made to follow the Classroom Rules, respect jGR but not fear it, and show buy-in to whatever ratio you end up using of Quick Quizzes to jGR.

    As I have said, my ratio if 65% quizzes to 35% jGR. That seems to keep everybody happy. But I hear you that you don’t want a kid to ride the quizzes to an A. It is a delicate balance.

    1. The stopping-in-the-middle-of-teaching works for me, too. I just stop and with what Ben calls a “bitchy edge” I simply look at the offender(s). After a few seconds I point at rules or just say, “Please stop talking.” Maybe if I know the class/offender(s) well I can then make a joke in the target language.

      But now toward the end of the year I am not having to correct behavior anywhere near as much as I did at the beginning of the year. This is probably because we trust each other and we did the hard work of norming the class in the first month of school. That first month burns but is totally worth it eventually.

      1. Aye, I noticed a massive difference between my first and second years. The former have been fairly normed and we have a good relationship – many of them come to my room to chat and there are a few who are already talking about taking Gaelic when they choose their classes in two years! When I laser point to the rules with a smile, they correct themselves and usually say “Tha mi dullich!” (Sorry!) without being asked to.

        On the other hand, we have my second years who, although more positive than the nightmarish group from last term, still don’t buy in; at least not visually. I try my best to go SLOW, ask for speed checks, use their ideas and interests, and keep the right people in the right jobs yet more often than not, there’s silence in the room and dodgy eye-contact. When I try to circle with them, I usually have to remind them to give me a sign that I’m being clear: saying “ooh!”, a nod, thumbs up, whatever. Laser pointing to rules with these second years sometimes gets snark or negative comments but they’re slowing getting the message.

        I think it’s the group dynamic – they don’t feel 100% safe to put their ideas out there. Also, a number of them aren’t happy about the switch to CI this year and let me know that they don’t feel they’re learning enough, despite 100% marks on quizzes. Their resistance is contagious, unfortunately. Ach well, there’s one or two that only partly hide their engagement and they help keep me sane. šŸ™‚

        1. Hi Jason,

          One thing that has been specifically mentioned by my students as something that helps them realize how much they’ve learned is to do a free write. If done too early, it’s not great, but once you are hearing kids bring up a variety of previously taught vocab in discussion they may be ready.

          1. Thanks for the idea Diane. Do you think that could work with newbies who have started in January with 3 classes/week? I worry that they don’t have enough input to be able to write much but I could be dead wrong. That could be the whole issue with them – that I’m underestimating them.

          2. Hi Jason,

            That sounds too early to me, but someone who knows how much Gaelic you might be able to acquire in that time would know better. For Chinese, I decided to give the first free write for my newbie 5th graders, who see me 3 times out of 6 days, in about December (after 3 1/2 months), and it went really well. All of them could type sentences. Several had stories of 5-8 sentences at least.

          3. They could write because of all the listening and reading input that preceded it. Great work, Diane. Think about what you said. 5th graders writing stories in their first year. Hmmm. I call that very cool.

          4. Yeah, I was really excited (and so were they!). I am really excited to see what this group will be like in 8th grade. I think it’s going to be really fun. They are super-motivated kids and very happy in class. That’s a huge part of their success.

            So there are really some benefits to teaching levels several years in a row.

  4. Jason,
    So, just to clarify, it appears that you are giving students a “C” for both behavior and effort? Could you lower their jGR percentage and raise the effort percentage by claiming effort shows in their quiz grades? That way a low jGR grade of say a “D” averaged with a “B” or “A” quiz/effort grade might make things more justifiable to parents and adminz.
    I have jGR as 35% with quizzes at 65%. So far, on-task kids earn a great grade while those talking, dozing, blurting kids might do well on a quiz, but I get to lower their overall grade with the jGR.
    Just my two cents and I am always about tweaking things šŸ™‚
    Good luck!

    1. Hi Louisa,

      That’s what I’ve been doing yes – weighting 100% on jGR. After reading everyone’s comments, I see the wisdom in using it to highlight areas for improvement instead of a full-out assult on their grade.

      On the next report, I’m going to follow your advice – use the Behavior category for their jGR marks and Effort for their quiz grades. Thanks for the suggestion! I hope it provides a clearer picture of the kids’ success in class.

  5. …I have jGR as 35% with quizzes at 65%. So far, on-task kids earn a great grade while those talking, dozing, blurting kids might do well on a quiz, but I get to lower their overall grade with the jGR….

    This is how it works for me as well Louisa. It’s a game of push me pull you with those kids and those percentages help me win.

    Jason the kids need to know that if they but pay attention they can get the grade they are used to be given by other teachers. And I mean given. We can’t break them of their entitlement mind set by insisting on a certain behavior. It is too much for them to fathom. Why, if they can get a B by doing well on tests while talking away in class, should they ever have to do differently? That fight is more than I would want. The school game is now officially up and running for them, and they know it’s about getting a grade, and it will be that way for their rude talkative selves in all their classes up to and through college, unless you have a way to stop them (jGR at the right percentage). And don’t make it personal. Try to be machine-like in your assessment. I have learned never to try to try to reason with a kid about the interpersonal skill – they won’t change because you talk to them – but rather to tie it to a grade. Pay me five times my salary and I might bring that fight on myself. Otherwise, no. Juke them with the jGR. Assigning the quizzes into the Effort category might allow you to do that, as you suggested above as a possibility.

  6. Hi Everyone,

    A hundred thanks to you all for your input and suggestions – I feel I’ve turned a corner over here. I can see how jGR fits into the bigger picture and how silly it was to weight it as 100% of marks. I guess I was trying too hard to send the message that being a human in my class is the priority without thinking much about the range of personalities I get. I think I’ll try putting quiz marks into the “Effort” category on reports and go from there, making the balance 50/50. If that doesn’t pan out so well, I’ll work something else out.

    Definitely one of those lightbulb moments. I always like those, even if they’re brutal to win.

    One quick question: seeing how two of my shyer kids have gotten burned by the fires of pure jGR, would there be anything to gain from bumping their marks up to Bs on last weeks report? Their quizzes show they know what’s going on and they’re not rude or disruptive – perfect examples of Diane’s “B-range kids” mentioned above (passive but habitually not disruptive). Giving them Bs may restore balance to my relationship with them and their parents, who help out at the school, and I don’t mind writing a letter explaining why I feel they do better than I gave them credit for. Would that undermine my credibility though?

    Thanks again folks!

  7. It would not undermine your credibility to bump up those grades. It is the right thing to do. jGR is all about honoring children for their non-verbal (because they don’t speak the language yet) observable behavior. Shyness should not impede a high jGR grade.

    Again, we are looking for non-verbal observable behavior – literally what we see in their faces and their eyes. We just know when they are with us, and it is primarily our job to make that happen, not theirs.

    I would hate a class in which my shyness kept me from a good grade. And nowhere in my own concept of jGR is there anything that requires a student to become something they are not. I would bet that in fact those students are doing better than you gave them credit for. So bump up those two grades.

    I say this again – and it’s just my own opinion – I can know more from the every day moments of teaching my kids using comprehensible input than any test could ever tell me. Honor them. All kids hide at that age, even the loud ones. It’s a time of shyness and hiding. Except in our classes, when the look of shyness often hides a total involvement in the CI, especially if it’s good.

  8. we are looking for non-verbal observable behavior

    I asked a question yesterday. A young lady reacted in her face. . I thought, “She doesn’t need to do anything more than that. I am looking at her. She is engaged. She is letting me know that something is amiss.” I realized that the closer we are to someone the subtler and softer the signal can be. The more distant less noticeable person at a given point in our movement about the room is like someone on stage: they have to exaggerate their gestures to be noticed.

    It is a balance: we are trying to teach to the eyes while at the same time showing them how to advocate for themselves when we fail to notice.

    jGR is a good teaching tool for this.

    “honoring children for their non-verbal”
    This expresses so well the feeling that I had when I first read jGR last fall. I recall in the past when I had participation grades that were more output based. I wish that I could take some of those kids back and redo that part of the year with them. Things would have been a lot easier.

    Alas! There is so much to learn. There is so much to unlearn.

    1. …we are trying to teach to the eyes while at the same time showing them how to advocate for themselves when we fail to notice….

      I had exactly the same experience today. A kid who might be a gang member, I wouldn’t know but it certainly is possible from his dress and his attitude, today (I have been working on reaching him all year) spent much of the class shaking his head up and down and making direct eye contact with me. He used to make eye contact with his desk. Now he makes eye contact with me, because I waited for him and he has known all along that I have been waiting for him. I stopped class and announced (reflecting what you said above Nathaniel) that he has been so focused in class lately (not first semester) that he will earn an A this six week term. No homework, very few tests or jGR grades because the class doesn’t really need them now – I know what I want and I see what I want in every kid in the class – and he smiled. To me this is real teaching, not jacking the kid around on whether he did his homework or not. This kid is my big success story for this year. I am happy.

      But the other part of what you wrote above Nathaniel about teaching them to self advocate (via the stop sign) is not something that I would mark a kid down for. We spend the first ten years or so of some of these kids’ academic lives teaching them that they can be wrong and their self esteem of course falls a bit more each year, and then we are going to all of a sudden in one year bring back that lost self esteem and ability to self advocate via the stop sign in class? I just don’t think we can do that. Maybe I need to revisit that stop sign thing in the jGR. I don’t need the stop sign to observe non verbal involvement. I can still hold them responsible for the other things asked for in the jGR. But I love the idea that you expressed of assessing by what we see. Most people would say I am “out there” on this point and that we need plenty of raw data and testing. However, if am speaking to someone and they are looking at me, I know the difference between fake and real looks, fake and real involvement. I just know. So does anyone. We all just know if somebody is hearing us in the real way.

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