Strong Discipline Through Silence

My Rule #1 (see rules) says, “Listen with the intent to understand”. There is another one that says, “Sit up…squared shoulders…clear eyes.” And a third that says “Do your 50%” (explained in a link below).
I mean those things. I defend my right to a classroom in which every single child in it does those things. Mine is primarily a listening class and those rules are sacred in my classroom.
I have worked too hard to have those rules ignored by some unconscious teenager who doesn’t yet grasp the value, the gold, he is being given through my hard work in learning how to teach using comprehensible input. Teachers who fail to confront, first personally, then via parents, then via administration, those few kids who don’t sit down with appreciation to the meal I set for them every day , deserve what they get if they don’t confront them.
John Piazza wrote about having a script to communicate with parents at parents night. Once the parents understand how we teach and why we teach this way, I would also suggest explaining those rules with the parents and administration because they are the iron fists that make the method work.
Although I often use the actual English words when I enforce the “Sit up…squared shoulders…clear eyes” rule, the others I enforce with silence via the laser pointer. I avoid saying them verbally when I need to call a child’s attention to them. How?
I simply stop teaching and stand there, waiting for the wayward dreamer to pull his head out of his gaze out the window, or his notebook where I know he is not focuses on taking notes, or reading something else, or, most egregiously, messing with an electronic device, which requires immediate collection of the item without exception from the first day.
I just stand there. Once the kid figures out that I have stopped class for her, and as the discomfort builds, I smile and laser point to the rules. I may walk over to the child if necessary. That is how I get the kids in line from the beginning – with loving intimidation and silence.



2 thoughts on “Strong Discipline Through Silence”

  1. Ben,
    Thanks for addressing my questions in recent postings. It’s a fine line between informing parents/colleagues, and protecting ourselves from destructive criticism/judgment by people who don’t understand what we’re trying to do. I look forward to more discussion on these points as we draw closer to the beginning of our respective school years.

  2. Yes and Laurie has this down perfectly – how to lovingly explain her position without giving an inch or getting defensive. I may get there in about three lifetimes. Again, though, I do believe that most people don’t care, and those who get in our face about this, usually administrators and colleagues, are going to have to be the ones we do the mental wrestling with over the next years.
    Judging from recent personal emails, the issue of administrators who simply don’t understand what we do – which comes from thinking that we can teach like the other disciplines and not understanding the current research on language acquisition – is going to be a very hot topic in our worlds for some time to come.

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