Three Questions

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16 thoughts on “Three Questions”

  1. Student #1 – that problem was created by you. It happens to all of us. If we do not stop ANY misbehaviors in their tracks in the first three days of class, this will happen. Tina and I have four response levels and here is the one we use the most: Stop teaching every single time a kid tunes out, talks, etc. Just stop teaching.

    Walk to the Classroom Rules poster. Place your hand on Rule #2. Look in the general direction of the kid. Not directly at him. Smile. Wait until he corrects his behavior. Only then go back and continue w the lesson. If it happens again, rinse and repeat. Never teach unless they are all on board or appear to be since we can’t force listening.

    Student #2 – Not your fault. There are “gifted” kids who are not gifted at all except in robotic memorization. In CI classes, emotional quotient is far more important than IQ. My guess is that you are challenging him to open his heart to the reciprocal, human and back and forth business that SLA is. He can’t do it. He has learned to live by memorizing and would give anything for a worksheet teacher. Be patient. In your class, he is scared. So he blocks. Do you have a grammar teacher in the building for him?

    Student #3 – Personally I would do all I could to get her out. A sympathetic AP or admin or even counselor, with both mom and kid at the meeting, could mediate her out of the class. Why tolerate this situation? Try to get her out. If admin fails to support you on this, then they suck.

    In the use of the rubric, don’t lie. All three of these little dip shits need to fail the first term. Then in come the angry parents. That is when you re-educate them about the standard for your subject matter and the Three Modes.

    Use the category on the right side of this page for ammunition: Administrator, Teacher, Parent re-education.

    1. Ben and all, a question—it is start of 2nd quarter. Is it too late to do a refresher on stop teaching and point to the rules any time a student is not following expectations? I want to go over expectations since Q2 is just starting and want to double check that I’m not too late..

      1. Never too late but having said that you have to have deeper levels you can go to. I am working on that book now, on the 12 levels of Classroom Management.

        When they don’t respect CM level #2 (Classroom Rule #2) this works, go to CM level #3, as per this video from Tina:

        (will insert it here when I get it)

        And beyond that are the other levels.

      2. What Ben said.

        It is never too late to start to do the right thing. However, you must be absolutely consistent because students have gotten used to getting away with things. It is harder to regain control than to establish it in the first place.

        The start of a new quarter is a good place to begin because students recognize it’s a transition.

  2. I disagree with Ben’s diagnosis of Student #2 because of the following two statements:
    He has a hard time making eye contact on the best of days
    He really is listening

    My opinion is that Student #2 lacks social skills, and your class may very well be the place where he learns some very important interactional strategies. Gifted and Talented Students are used to living in their own bubble and have a hard time interacting with people who don’t share their specialized interests. Not true of all but of many. “Small talk” may hold no interest for him (often true of highly intelligent people). There may be cultural things going on. Some cultures consider it rude to look authority figures in the eye – but I don’t know if that is going on. He may be a shy introvert (there are other kinds of introverts) who feels that he isn’t part of the group. If he is socially awkward, games and team activities may be uncomfortable for him, and he is covering his insecurity by dismissing the activities.

    Without knowing the full situation or the student, it’s hard to tell. That’s ultimately a call you have to make, but I can tell you that I was Student #2 in some of my high school classes. My chemistry teacher was convinced that I never paid attention because I didn’t keep my eyes glued on him. Yet, whenever he asked me a question or did a comprehension check, I knew my stuff. And I was interested. In fact, I was the only student in his class who went to a chemistry lecture he told us about, and I used that information in class – much to his consternation. Eventually, he started using my score on tests to set his grading scale. He took 90% of my grade and declared that to be 100%. (I didn’t find this out until one of the other students in class told me that.) I still have problems with small talk, so teaching my students to do it German is also helpful to me.

    I do agree with Ben about Student #1 and Student #3. It is not too late to solve the problem with Student #1, but it will take absolute consistency and perseverance – and it will be harder than if you were doing this on the first day. The key is to make certain that the class knows that Student #1 is the cause of the interruption. By stopping every single time and with every single student who interrupts, you are showing that this is important and you are not being partial or letting anyone get away with something. My sixth period class has lots of freshmen, and by sixth period their attention spans are shot. I still am stopping multiple times per class period to point to the Interpersonal Communication Rubric, but it is getting better. Since my walls are metal and the poster is attached with magnets, I can pull the poster down and walk over to the area of the room where the disturbance is taking place. Now, when my students see me walk over and pull the poster off the wall, they groan. That’s a good thing, because it means they are getting tired of the interruption. I just have to certain they tie it to the distractors and not to me.

    Okay, that’s enough rambling for now.

  3. julie quenneville

    Thanks for your thoughts!

    For Student #1: I do stop — during each and every class — to remind about focused attention and make a gesture “take the bud out of the ear”. Of course, with a smile. Guess it’s time for a private chat and/or phone call home to explain how important attentive listening is.

    Student #2: There is no cultural issue. But I agree, he is quite socially awkward and is extremely introverted. I agree that he would love a grammar teacher — unfortunately, I’m the only french teacher in the school!

    Student #3: I wish I could get rid of her. Admin isn’t terribly supportive but I will defer any future issues to her. Why do some parents project their shortcomings on us hardworking, fair teachers?

  4. Student 1 – Is he a good kid who just isn’t interested? If so, in my private chat with him, I’d underline the fact that his behaviour is very disrespectful towards me. Most kids don’t realize how disrespectful they’re being and in the end, don’t want to do that. Some, however, do that because that is their goal. So, it depends on the kid. I’d also tell him that you’re trying to make French class fun and stress-free but that each student’s behaviour dictates whether or not you can actually do that.

    If Student 2 is listening, then he’s learning. Maybe have a private chat with him and ask him to rate himself on his comprehension. Have them do a story retell so you can see how he’s doing. He may be understanding it all without having to track you. If he’s not, you could chat with him privately about how tracking the flow of conversation will help him.

    You know, I’m trying Tina’s experiment of a stand-alone grammar lesson with my 8th graders who have had 2+ years of French. I figure they’ll need it for when they go into the high school and I’m going to do it once in a while. It’s separate to the stories we’ve done, and I’ll do the lesson, a few practice activities and then a formative quiz to see how much they understand. I’ll see if they feel more confident using that grammar piece or not. I just did it yesterday for the first time and they all paid attention, though not sure how many understood it. Time will tell.

    1. Julie Quenneville

      Yes, private conversations should do the trick. They are good kids — just allowed throughout the rest of the day (they only have one other teacher for the rest of their classes) to listen to music whenever they want or check out on their listening skills by turning away, not looking, etc. It’s a battle sometimes to make them remember, “Oh yeah, Mme Quenneville expects this but our teacher doesn’t.”

      Through one-on-one story translating, Student 1 and 2 did understand. Sometimes you take it day-by day!

      1. Julie said: “Sometimes you take it day-by-day!”

        This is so key. October is a tough month. Patterns in us and in ours students continue and just bc we grasp this new work in our minds doesn’t mean we can grasp it right away in our bodies. As per Baudelaire, “”Sois sage, ô ma Douleur, et tiens-toi plus tranquille.”

  5. I don’t get why a student has earbuds in during class. I am (sometimes) not a (total) idiot, but can you just say, “No earbuds – this is a listening-based class.”?
    Also I agree that it’s enlightening to Ss to let them know of our perception of rudeness – sometimes they don’t know the negative vibe they’re emitting, and they correct course.
    As for the one whom you can’t figure out – bright, listening, grumpy, defiant – so long as you are ascertaining his listening comprehension, maybe you won’t be able to force him into ‘the game’ but he is acquiring. Did I understand correctly – he is both listening and comprehending? Direct eye contact is painfully intense and uncomfortable for some people, so a downcast gaze may be his coping mechanism…

    1. Julie Quenneville

      Yes, Alisa, the earbuds are in all day for this kid. His other teacher doesn’t care. Despite my daily reminders, it continues. He will get the hint when I speak with him. I know he’s not trying to be rude. Student 2 understands everything.

      How to assess him for Interpersonal Communication Skills?

      1. I go with observable non-verbal behaviors, as per the Interpersonal Mode of the Three Modes of Communication. I don’t care if he wants to do that behavior in his other classes. He can do it for me in one class a day. To me it’s not about getting the material but giving of himself to the group. What is the purpose of language otherwise? We now have a generation of kids who can’t hold a conversation except w a screen. Therefore we ask, “Why be a teacher?” I’m aware that so many are insecure. Best, in my mind, is to go w Alisa here:

        …we have to meet them where they are and do the best we can….

  6. Yes, the matter of the eye contact.
    In my opinion you can use it to show your power, that they won’t get away with ignoring you (Maybe they have good reason to be distrustful of the adult world.) or you use it to show that you are caring about them. Both is necessary, I believe.

  7. Alisa Shapiro-Rosenberg

    As for interpersonal skills, not all kids (or adults) have ’em. And even when they do in some settings (at home; with close friends) some are introverts, or awkward self-conscious teens…

    All we can do is consistently (and graciously) hold our expectations. But some kids have divergent (word choice?) interaction skills – so we have to meet them where they are and do the best we can. We can’t compare their skills to the extrovert who’s in all the theater shows. In that private talk maybe you’ll gently reiterate that as his teacher you want to see that he understands, but that you don’t want to make him uncomfortable – gain his trust – and would like for the communication to be-2-way, so that he ‘closes the circle.’ maybe a subtle signal – he touches his ear or gives a thumbs up – to communicate w/you and still feel safe…

  8. Perhaps part of the issue in giving student #2 an Interpersonal Communication Skills grade is holding him to the same standard as everyone else. Perhaps try communicating that you want the ICSR to also value growth. Some students started the year with eyes glued on you all period. With student #2, the ICSR grade could also reflect his growth with increasing eye contact with you.

    I have a student, Chelsea, that hardly ever look at me in the eyes until a few weeks ago. And I started teaching her in January last year. Her other teachers said the same thing; that she will avoid eye contact. It could very well be a trust issue with adult males.

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