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10 thoughts on “Resistance”

  1. It sounds like this is likely a Latin class. My own experience is that until I moved more into CI teaching/learning in my classes, Latin classes were often filled more with 4 percenters than normal (not much more, but often more than other language classes) due to stereotypes held by parents, students and others in the school who placed students in classes. In my experience, those students will resist change more vehemently than any others simply because the traditional methods are those that they know they can excel at (even if they aren’t really learning much real language). Ben’s advice here is dead on. Go for it. And reassure the 4 percenters that they will not only get good at what you are offering, but that in the long run, they will be much, much better at their Latin.

  2. I also echo the “go for it” from Bob and Ben’s advice to get your students to help you with this transition.

    You are courageous to make the change late in the year. I did this last year…started CI teaching in April. I called it “Fourth Quarter Extreme Makeover.” If not for this group I would have waited until September, thinking “oh, I should just wait and start fresh.” I am so glad to have made the change. I think whenever you are compelled by a force beyond logic is the “right time.” This doesn’t always coincide with the academic calendar.

    I have those kids you are speaking about. We all do. They are afraid. Their very world view is suddenly shaken and all their patterns and coping skills (memorizing, compartmentalizing the “subject” into neat little assignments that they complete, getting external approval in the form of good grades, being “better” than others, etc.) …all of this is suddenly blown into the ether and they panic. So they take it out on us for changing the rules of the game. They claim they have not learned anything . They *tell* us “you have to know the grammar in order to learn the language properly,” and they say it with such conviction that we almost listen to them.

    It is a long haul sometimes to neutralize that fear, but stick with this. I have never ever looked back. Keep it simple. Follow Ben’s advice to incorporate the quick quizzes. Especially enlist everyone in the quest for 90% target language use. This is the most powerful force, and is the whole point after all. I have found that the kids who struggled with the “old system” are suddenly lifted. They begin to realize they are not “dumb” or “bad” or “suck at languages.” This is the best part! The 4% kids have a harder time, obviously, but when they realize they will get good grades AND feel proud that they are in a class where no English is spoken, they begin to respond.

    Be careful about projecting your own potentially negative energy toward the 4% kids. I am not saying you are doing this, mostly speaking from my own experience in the transition. This was a challenge for me for sure, and I don’t think I really noticed it until halfway through this year. It can be very much like reverse discrimination. Basically just remember that we don’t always know people’s stories. I had forgotten this with a particular student and was definitely projecting frustration and even contempt at one point, but then suddenly all her patterns and the way she gets through her day emerged to me as coping for her truly chaotic life and a very unhappy home situation. The one “constant” that she thought she could control was suddenly taken away. This can be traumatic for some kids, causing their stress levels to rise.

    Remember that this is a practice. Each day you get a new opportunity. Try to keep it simple for yourself. Print out Ben’s suggestions and keep them in your plan book so that you have reassurance as you make your way through the remaining days. Good luck, and keep asking questions to this group. It is a real lifeline!

    1. …be careful about projecting your own potentially negative energy toward the 4% kids. I am not saying you are doing this, mostly speaking from my own experience….

      This is a HUGE point jen and I am so glad you make it here. It should be aimed at me. I do this a lot less now that I have matured somewhat into the method, but in the past I used to fricking lecture the kids on the importance of the method instead of doing CI.

      I have been known to stop at an intersection and roll down the window of my car and start bitching at the person in the car next to me about how things have to change in language classes in schools. OK – not really but it makes a point – I need to not let my own considerable anger about the way languages are taught in the U.S. simmer down bc if that transfers into my classes it is a very bad thing as you so accurately point out above.

  3. Trust begets trust. If you want your students to trust you, you need to be able to trust them, to show them that you trust them. And you do that by being honest with them. I would talk to them, tell them that you are relearning how to teach because you want to be more than a good teacher, you want to be an excellent teacher. I read a story about Tiger Woods years ago that impressed me. He was recognized as one of the best golfers in the world, he had won several tournaments, when he decided that the only way he could progress and improve his game was to change his swing. This meant unlearning things that had become completely spontaneous and re-learning how to swing a golf club. It took him two years of hard practice and during those two years he didn’t win a single tournament. It took a lot of courage and determination, just as it takes a lot of courage and determination for a teacher to decide to re-learn how to teach. But unlike Tiger Woods, you have the satisfaction of seeing that even with “bad CI” your students are making progress and are better than they would have been if you had not changed. Tell them so. Tell them that you now understand that the charts and drills and worksheets that you used to be proud of were not effective because using a language must be as automatic and spontaneous as a well practiced golf swing. You are actually asking them to re-learn how to learn a language, so it’s normal for them to be a bit upset. Explain to them why, ask them to be patient while you work out the kinks and reassure them that they will be the true winners. I’ve always found that when I was frank and honest with my students about my difficulties, they made honest efforts to meet me half-way. Then the hard part was living up to my ambitions and not slipping back to old habits.

  4. Judy, I cannot applaud your “trust” message enough. Absolutely. Do anything that you can to demonstrate trust for them and to invite them to trust you. I often will say, in English, just before we begin an activity–“guys–just trust me on this–this will work if you play along with me. I know it’s going to seem weird at first, but let’s have fun with it.” Simple as it is, it reduces anxiety and makes it okay to “have fun”. Bottom line: if they don’t trust, they won’t be learning much.

  5. I have an idea. Tell the kids tomorrow how time is of the essence. You totally have to practice. Then get Circling with Balls started as per that post here yesterday – Editing Request 2.

    Let’s say a girl named Sophie draws a book next to her name. Circle it, but, and here is the novelty, after a little bit of that ask her to sit in a chair and pretend to be reading a book. Just have her sit there – that’s all she has to do.

    So now you are combining Circling with Balls with a rudimentary form of a One Word Image and an even more basic form of a story. But it will give you practice. Find info on One Word Images on the resources page of this site.

    See what happens! There she is reading (or whatever he or she is doing), and ask questions – it should be a passive activity so as not to viusally distract like the Three Ring Circus, which I never do for that reason is that it is way to distracting for real CI to occur.

    Feel the fear, slow down, keep going and ask some more questions. Then, trumpet call please, ask where this is all happening. Only accept funny local places. You may have to go to L1 for a moment to coach them in the art of silly responses. Watch what happens in terms of the energy.

    You may want to set up a ringer location response beforehand if the set of kids is really dull. Just tell some kid to say something local and funny for the answer to the where question when it happens. I’ve done that before and it only fails half the time.

    All the while, your superstar has been taking notes in English. Tell her, before the class, what you are going to do. Ask her to form some of the simplest yes or no questions ever created. Then ask the questions, five is enough, before the end of class.

    When they walk out after seeing and feeling how easy it was, and all they had to do was pay attention, you will have won a battle, and then you can fight the war next year.

  6. It’s amazing how much of all of this we all need to keep in mind. My CI recently with my 5th graders has been focused around a French geography unit to dove-tail on the studies of my students in their Anglophone social studies class. I used to do this entire unit in English and finally had enough guts to try this in French this year. And I don’t think I’m sheltering vocab. We spent on almost4 months on this project, focusing on vocabulary, PQA with this vocab, an adaptation of a French folk tale and some writing. I was observed by someone who has spent years working with early language learners, from outside of my district, and it felt great to have my students interacting in such a great way.
    I strongly believe that anything can be adapted to CI. We each have to find our own way to deliver, but the general rules are the same. And we gotta have faith.

  7. I am writing back here to give some feedback. I spoke with my kids today. They explained to them the situation and explained that there would be no tests and only small quizzes. I also explained what their part was. However, I haven’t had a chance to begin the circling with balls as I am chained by the district Final exam and there is material that I have yet to cover. Many students were excited to hear what I was saying and were pleased. Some others…not so much. In fact, today, I had to go into the principal’s office to talk about the values of what I am doing. Luckily she likes hearing the words “researched based.” The students complain that they are not ready for the exam and that I am a horrible teacher. Well, there are many reasons that they think this, but…I’m not too worried about it. We are having some growing pains right now. I think that I won over many, but not all. I’m going to continuing doing what I am doing as we only have 2 weeks left. Trust is truly a huge factor and I have some students who don’t trust me. I’ve been trying to win them over, but to no avail. I’ll keep you posted.

    1. You will have to go to the administrator re-education category here as well. The basic upfront response that you want to share with anyone who challenges/asks is this:

      In order to align with new standards and the new research, you must now use the TL in the classroom. As a teacher of language, you must now speak in the language in the classroom in ways that the students can understand. You can no longer teach them using English and in ways that they cannot understand.

      They should be able to get that. If they want to go further, just refer them to the ACTFL Standards, Three Modes and 90% Use Position Statement:

      Three Modes:
      90% Use:

  8. What level are they? The older they are, the worse.

    Dig deep for courage. It doesn’t get any worse than this kind of situation. Get through it. The change is now pushing the flower from the bottom of the water. Can you say mud? It looks dark. But how to get the flower without the mud?

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