More Circling with Balls but only one new card today. Too busy reviewing and limiting to set up the first quiz on Monday, the quiz that we have gone over so many times (Jenna plays soccer in Wonderland – the yes/no stuff that is so easy) so that the kids will all EXPERIENCE SUCCESS on the first quiz.
Today I realized that it really is best to do what is described in the Today 2 blog post from earlier this week – severely limit the content and work with pretty much one sentence all class, with plenty of comparing with me and other kids in the class and chanting, using specifically mais/but in almost every sentence, and mieux/better a lot as described in the formula offered in that post.
I also noticed today how the kids got so much nicer so fast through the week and looks of mistrust were replaced by smiles. I think it was because some kids dropped the class. And it was the bad asses who dropped. Hmmmm. What happened?
People new to teaching are often surprised when their good will towards all kids in the room is met with the harsh reality that not all those kids want to be in their class. This can be brutal. The kid, who plays along for a few days, studying the teacher, calculating angles on how they are going to “play” the teacher, suddenly emerges after a week or so as a jerk who has staked off a part of the classroom as his own.
What went wrong? How could the teacher’s good will and assumption that all the students in the desks really want to learn the language be dashed in this way? How on earth could wanting to teach kids and help them backfire on a teacher?
The answer is that, in those first few days, the teacher probably failed to norm the room sufficiently. The first few weeks of a language class are for personalizing the room and making clear through consistent modeling the fact that the rules will be enforced. This alone can guarantee that there will be no discipline problems later.
Finger rule #2 was the one that I enforced the most this past week, the first of school. Nothing on the desks. Rule #1 was easy, the kids got that it is a listening class right away. Rule #3 was easy, maybe took two classes to assure that they wouldn’t repeat anything back to me. #4 and #5 were really easy – that is what we do all the time.
But the thing is, what I noticed, was that as the week progressed there were fewer and fewer bad asses in the room, the kind of kid above who can chew up a new teacher. I really think it is because, beyond merely norming the room with my classroom rules and the five finger rules all the time, while Circling with Balls (mainly basketballs, footballs, and soccer balls – these are 9th graders), I absolutely stopped them on every single instance of:
– head on desk (happened about four times all week in all my classes and I stopped it cold with finger rule #2
– talking over/side conversations (Classroom rule #2)
– I modeled what I will start doing if I even SEE a cell phone in my class, or earphones – I have a big plastic K-Mart goblet that I walk over and collect the phone in. But I didn’t keep them this week, that starts for real on Monday.
Work hard that first week. Love them extra. Be the strongest one in the room. Chant more. Go ever so SLOW-Li. Tolerate nothing, let nothing slide. then watch the bad asses go looking for a class where the teacher will allow them to be control a part of the energy in the class. Or, in one case, a bad ass became a good kid like overnight.
He was testing me and he lost because I have great rules and I enforce them and I put out twice the energy now in doing that than later in the year. After the first two weeks of that, reap the rewards by being able to just have fun and do really productive CI with the kids because the bad asses have all left.