Stop Class!

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27 thoughts on “Stop Class!”

  1. Rebekah Gambrell

    Thank you for this. I have been struggling so much with my classroom discipline. It is wearing me out. I have students in my classes for whom I need to stop class. It is very difficult to teach anything when they distract everyone around them.

  2. There are a lot of posts here in the categories of mental health and classroom discipline. The entire thing is that we teach in atmospheres where this kind of behavior is tolerated all over the place, in most classrooms in our buildings, and so it appears genuinely odd, and we come off as “mean” in their minds, that someone would actually call them on their behavior.

    But we have to. No one else will. We have to, we have to, we have to. We can do it with a smile if we don’t want to appear “mean”, but we must do it. We can’t be afraid of being the adult. They will actually be relieved when they see the consistency from us for the first time.

    The big difference is that with TCI/TPRS we teach in a way that we CAN demand their compliance. Teachers who teach languages the old way are screwed. That shit is boring. But we actually deliver instruction that, once we have the guts to confront and maintain order, is genuinely interesting to listen to and read!

    I told Greg that he would probably stop his classes up to 50 times each today, as he gets up on the bicycle for the first time with his mind on Word Associations, OWI and CWB at the same time he is focusing on using jGR and the Classroom Rules poster. I told him to totally focus on stopping class whenever there is a disturbance. It’s 11:30 in Durham and we just have to root for him through the day. The key is stopping the class. Confront. Don’t back down. Every time. EVERY time.

    This is about finding our personal power and using it in the classroom. It is massively important. We need to make stopping class a habit. There is no other way.

  3. This comes in perfect time. Day one is going WAY better than I thought it would thanks to yall’s input and honesty. I can tell that if I can make this work, my stress level at school and away will go down dramatically. Or at least the things I’ll be stressed about will be how to engage the unengaged or uncooperative kids, not how I’m going to create the next day’s boring lesson and get them to sit through it. However, there are some bad things so far today and questions I have about them -more on that later when the day is over.

    Right now is my French 1 class (31 kids). At my school this period has class for 45 minutes, goes to lunch for 30 minutes, then comes back for the last 45 minutes of class. So my kids are at lunch right now. This reminder is perfect, because I have already talked over the kids a handful of times (habits are habits)and not DIRECTLY confronted the problem kids. I’m going to stop every single time I have to when they come back. I know these kids will rise to the expectations if I set them and they understand. So far we’ve done the intro of the new way of doing class (they seemed excited) and then did Word Associations with 2 words until luch. We’re doing OWI when they get back.

    I just hate when I have to stop so much that the engaged kids start to go downhill too out of impatience…

  4. Oh…I just read your comment Ben. Yes, I will be stopping class to a RIDICULOUS extent when these kids come back….like a maniac. THEY WILL NOT DERAIL THIS TRAIN!!!! Gotta go, they come back in 8 min. I know they can do this.

  5. Yes but all that will improve. The engaged kids will become more engaged as you stick to your guns in every instance. It’s fine. Likewise, as you norm the class, the unengaged kids will split into two groups:

    a) those who get that you won’t tolerate their bullshit and switch to compliance mode (most of them).

    b) those who resist what you are bringing now. Those are the ones to make the phone calls on. When mom and dad realize that you have to speak French in the class and that their son or daughter is preventing you from doing that, then THEY, not you, will have a serious problem. With those few kids, the resistors, and there will only be one or two of them, you must make them the focal point of the entire next two weeks in your deeper mind. You must strengthen your resolve. If they don’t comply, raise hell in the building. Talk to whomever. Remember to repeat over and over that now that you are using the target language in class, and everything has changed. The standards are forcing you to do this. Your hands are tied. You must now teach this way and the kid now must change. Must change.

    I am glad it is going well. You are doing it. It’s those few kids. They will sit there and study you and try to figure out why they no longer have power. It will be a very uncomfortable vibe on you. You have to deal with it by firmly centering yourself in the knowledge that, if the kid is trying to sit there and invisibly manipulate you, the teacher, in this way, then they must have some real emtional problems and some really weak and ineffective parents to convey to their child that it is ok to confront a teacher. You, happily, have no more problems. They do.

    It always takes about two weeks to norm a class. So, as the next ten days go by, you should notice, if you stick to your guns, good things. I am proud of you. We are all proud of you. This takes real guts, what you are doing today.

  6. This is wonderful and also what I needed to read as well. This thing is tough. I admit that I haven’t consistently been giving the jGR as much as I should but I’m starting now. It’s hard to start over at the end of February with the same classes, if not impossible. Is it impossible? Can someone tell me?

    There is still a lot about which I am unsure. The main thing is the grading. Yes, I know a whole hard link about The Grade book exists but as a newer teacher, it definitely prevents me from feeling confident. Assessment is expected…and at my school, we don’t have Standards-Based grading.

    As for Greg, I also am proud of him. Definitely stop class every time. I have been debating about whether to call a kid out in front of his peers when he breaks the rules, especially after reading Teaching with Love and Logic. I think I misinterpreted that book because I came away with the feeling that it wasn’t compassionate to stop everything and publicly tell the kid about his wrongdoing. But with this TCI thing we’re doing, the kid is either with you or against you and if he’s against you he’s ready to take 10 others with him…

    1. I started jGR in October, and noticed an immediate change, but I forget to apply it as frequently as I need to. This post inspired me to go back to stricter jGR assessment, with a narrative self-evaluation at the end of each class. If it makes you feel better, you could wait until the start of the new quarter to start using it, but I think there’s no time like the present!

      I think there’s a difference between pointing out a kid’s specific behavior (invites argument & allows the class to side with the kid– I am guilty of this sin) and pointing to the jGR or the classroom rule that is being broken.

      1. …there’s a difference between pointing out a kid’s specific behavior … and pointing to the jGR or the classroom rule that is being broken….

        Yes. It’s bad cop and good cop. The first one you mention is bad cop – too much room to make it personal. The second is you have to do it bc it’s your job so it’s not personal anymore and they have to accept it. I told Greg to use the line “My hands are tied. I’m so sorry! But the standards make me teach using the language. So I have to have these rules here and tie your grade to how you follow rule #4 up there (laser it 100 times per class in the beginning). So Jeremy, dude, you’re going in the book today as a 1, that’s a 20% on 50% (whatever you decide to weight jGR at) of your grade. I’ll make the call tonite so your parents understand. Stop by on your way out, I’ll need your parent’s phone number. Sorry, man, this is a a hard change for me too but I have to do it that way! Hey, if you get all A’s on the quizzes, and the quizzes are easy, you can get a C! Think of it that way. Of course, if you improve on the rubric here and get a 3 or 4, you can go for the B or A. It’s up to you. Sorry man, my hands are tied.”

        And Jennifer when you play good cop yes you can change in mid-year bc suddenly the kids perceive the change as not coming from you (bad cop) but from a force behind you from some state level over which you have no control (good cop). That changes everything and allows a mid year change fairly seamlessly.

      2. “I think there’s a difference between pointing out a kid’s specific behavior (invites argument & allows the class to side with the kid– I am guilty of this sin) and pointing to the jGR or the classroom rule that is being broken.”

        Ka-ching!! Now that’s the money statement!!

        with love,

        1. Especially early on in the year if I see somebody violating a class norm, I often just stop, without anyone knowing who just violated it, and point the laser to the norm that was violated…. It gives me a chance to remind everyone of the rule while not singling out a student.

          I handle it differently in February, but in August and September that is what I do…. I would like to think it helps reduce problems in February…?

          1. That reminds me. I hadn’t thought about this. But I just stop and don’t even look at the offender. I wait. And wait. My internal thinking is simple. I will wait. I get paid the same. The class notices and polices the offender. I will not let children who know no better speak while I am speaking. I wait. Jim Fay calls responding with silence the Queen Elizabeth stare, as in “We are not amused.” I don’t do that. I am amused, at how ludicrous that some kid would dare cross me. So I don’t do the royal stare. I just wait. Class policing is powerful.

            (Don’t try this with large group noise, I am talking about individuals here. With large group noise, we yell, and I mean yell, “Stop!”)

          2. Ben, I have two things. First -that’s hilarious. Granted, it was in my old non-TPRS/CI world so that kind of voids it, but last semester I had that realization all of a sudden one day. “As long as I haven’t been fired, I’m getting a pay check at the end of this month no matter what happens in this room. Talking over kids stresses me and my voice. I’m not going to do it.” I developed the habit of just stopping in the middle of sentences if people were talking. I would just stand absolutely still and stare out the window, taking an extended mental vacation to the grass or sun or clouds outside until the talking stopped. Sometimes it wouldn’t and I would just go sit at my desk and job search or look for cool teaching ideas. I don’t know how I didn’t get fired. Obviously, none of that’s an option anymore for me -they will pay attention becuase now what I’m teaching is actually going to be the real deal.

            Second, when do you decide it’s time to yell? I feel, especially as a beginning teacher, that yelling would just show a lack of control on my part. Is that true?

          3. It’s not a desperate yell. It is a calm yell if there is such a thing. I do remember it was presented in a workshop one time. I only had to use it once in middle school and I remember it worked really well. So maybe others have an idea.

            My point is that they have won the battle when you look out the window or go to the computer. Those actions are white flags to them. So now no white flag! How else to get their attention? Group may disagree. But I say yell stop. Hell I don’t know.

            The one good thing about this crap you are going through now is you are setting the table for the fall. Each struggling, insane day of CI now is another nice fall day of CI for you. Your true CI angels will show up in the fall.

    2. I have called kids out in the past and before you know it the phone call comes in from the parent that I embarrassed their kid in front of their peers. So, I have resorted to talking to them after class and/or calling home (which usually is met with more excuses on the parents’ side). Anyway, jGR is really helping a great deal with these issues, as now I just stop class and point to the rule being violated and the grade level on the rubric. It usually does the trick.

      1. Make sure you share jGR at parent’s nights and at all conferences. It makes the parent realize that their behavior counts and that their grade will be affected by it. Have a copy of the Three Modes ready for instant reference for skeptics who still think behavior can’t be connected to a grade. Tell those folks that yes that used to be true but it is not true anymore. Point to the Interpersonal Skill wording and explain that this is now being considered in all classes (it is in my school by desperate teachers who know what we are doing in WL) but it is actually a Standard for World Languages. Once you play the standard card they can’t say anything. Always use the standard, keeping if fully impersonal. Most parents love this. I say, “Listen, let’s be honest, Dickie doesn’t really like French. But even if he doesn’t learn a single word, at least I can honestly tell you that I am helping prepare your son for a job. Employers are looking for people who can get along with their bosses and co-employees, and that starts here. I know that we can work together to get Dickie on board with this thing. Thank me later.”

    3. Jen, you wrote:
      I came away with the feeling that it wasn’t compassionate to stop everything and publicly tell the kid about his wrongdoing.

      I haven’t read the book, so I can’t tell if you understood or misunderstood what the book was saying. However, I would say that compassion doesn’t mean letting people get away with wrong behavior. Compassion is insisting on upright and ethical behavior in a way that builds people up rather than tearing them down.

      We should be certain that we can distinguish among punishment, discipline and consequences. While a specific act could be any one of the three, each one has its own motivation, purpose and “feel”. Punishment is judicial, is motivated purely by a desire to see justice done, has as its purpose the repayment of a “debt” to society, and feels heavy. (Think of Javert in Les Misérables.) Consequences are very neutral, often have as their motivation the desire to allow someone to feel the effects of an action, have the purpose of establishing cause and effect relationships and feel rather neutral. (Consequences can even be very mechanical, such as the consequences of jumping out of a plane without a parachute; gravity will take care of administering the consequences without human intervention.) Discipline is actually positive, is motivated by concern for the individual, has the purpose of bringing forth the best in the individual, and feels encouraging. Discipline is compassionate and does not always exact the penalty justice demands, but it neither does it allow the behavior to go uncorrected.

      For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

      1. Also Jen on that same point:

        …I came away with the feeling that it wasn’t compassionate to stop everything and publicly tell the kid about his wrongdoing….

        If I were arguing a case in front of a judge and in front of others, and someone in the court starting preventing me from doing that, it would be compassionate, reflecting Robert’s statement above, to stop them.

        If a very young child wanders out into the street, we may have to redirect them with a little hit on the butt to get their attention. We wouldn’t stop them with an argument about the danger of cars in streets, because in that moment they need to be moved fast and the pat gets that done. But, as John Bradshaw has said, we don’t stop them with five hard mean slaps. We redirect them in the way that best fits them and the group. Firmly and quickly. Honestly, why would we allow a child to interrupt us, and not stop class? I don’t get that.

        I am glad we are finally having this discussion. It’s been avoided for over five years here. The fact is, we either stop the class or we lose. But if we stop the class in anger than we lose worse. That’s why we wanna be the good cops and blame it on the new rule of having to speak the language and our hands are tied, which is a term I use a lot and immediately diffuses the personal feel of the confrontation.

        1. Warning: I’m working on my economy of words, especially in my classroom, but I don’t have time to over-edit myself right now, so please bear with me as I unload and ask for some input. Thanks to all who have sent encouragement my way as I start this out here in the Dirty-D (Durham, NC). I even got some comments during the day today -those were a big boost as I contemplated my sanity today. Thank you to all!

          I survived the first day of this (or rather, my kids survived what’s going to be a steep learning curve for me). Overall, I’m very hopeful and had a blast today. I do feel like this stopping class thing is THE crucial element I’m having to face head on right now. I had to make little decisions to do it over and over today, and more and more as the day went along (Ben, thanks for the reminder last night that these first 2 weeks for me aren’t about teaching French -they’re about instilling the discipline that will allow the CI to happen). One plus is, there were already 2 or 3 kids today who explicitly made comments about how they like “the new way.” And in French 1, it was obvious from their faces that a LOT of them like it a lot. Which was a nice boost considering the MAJOR pouty-pants reaction I got from some of the kids in the upper levels. Tough. They’ll just have to deal with the fact that they actually have to ENGAGE now and can’t pass just becuase they turned in all their worksheets and skated by on quizes/tests (in the old way, my grading stunk because I couldn’t care less about arbitrary numbers, so everyone passed if they turned in their work…hence my kids in French III/IV right now who are really still beginners).

          I’m going to have a ton of questions for a while, so my apologies if I take up screen space excessively. I wanted to give an all-out report of my first day so I could get input on it, but I need to actually get some sleep tonight so I won’t do that now. However, I do have a few questions I wrote down today that I’d love input on before going into day 2 tomorrow. Please feel free to comment on all, none, or just the one you want. I think number 4 is the only one that I need to deal with immediately:

          1) which classroom rules does everyone use? (it seems everyone kind of adjusts things to suit their needs, but I don’t really have time to adjust things right now). The rules I had up for day 1 today I got from the resources area on the public part of the site, but Ben, it seems in some of your recent comments you reference numbers on the rules that don’t match the rules I have (?).

          2) Should I wake up sleeping students or just mark them in the D or below section of the rubric for not being present? (In one class I have about 3 kids that sleep consistently in class…and they did today). Also, do you all do a daily grade on the rubric or just tally up the whole week? If a kid is at a D/F for part of class, but a B for the rest, do I average it or just give the kid a B since that’s the point they got to?

          3) I know in terms of establishing a norm of communication in class that everybody should be expected to engage. But, I had several students in one upper lev. class today who think saying “Ooohhh” to stuff is childish and they said they’re not going to do it. I didn’t want to create a negative vibe, so I let it slide and let the fun kids do it thinking the others will catch on eventually to the fun. I know this sort of thing isn’t part of the rubric, and really the “downer” kids were still participating, so I’m ultimately fine with not forcing everyone to say “Ooohhh”. My issue is that it’s just a vibe killer in the class when someone says, “that’s childish, I’m not gonna do it”. But then again, I can’t force enthusiasm. It has to be organic.

          4) One of my classes is about 16 French II students, 4 French III students and 1 girl taking AP. Everyone except for the AP girl (and 2 others) is really French I in terms of how much French they know (because I wasn’t an effective teacher and the traditional way got us nowhere). So, I’m putting that class on the TPRS train too, starting from the very basics just like I’m doing in my real French 1 class.

          The issue I have is with the AP girl and the 2 other kids who are basically French 2’s in a traditional paradigm. Last semester I sent them to the library every day as basically an independent study. They did stuff like compositions and watch French movies with random worksheets/activites based on the movies. I just wanted them out of class because I had to focus on the lower-level and beginner classes they were shoved in which were chaotic. Only problem is, I’m not really allowed to send them to the library anymore. So now, I either have to require them to be part of the beginner TPRS stuff for the French 1’s in the room, or give them “independent work” that they’ll do in the back of the room (horrible stuff like worksheets, projects, or reading that they don’t have the acquired language to do yet).

          Any thoughts on any of the above? Thanks in advance for anything.

          1. Tell the upper levels you want two weeks of their honest effort on this. After that, they can have worksheets until June. The class will split after two weeks but you need the two weeks to get that split. Why do want the class to split? It’s the only way they will buy in for the rest of the year. A certain element will crave more CI and hopefully overide the dark side. If not, movies and worksheets until June and the hell with it. Focus on the level ones. Put your real energy there.

            Other questions:

            1a) Either Classroom Rules poster is fine. Don’t sweat the small stuff now. We’ll fix it later. No biggie for now.

            2a) Wake up the sleepers. Tell an administrator or some security person (your school MUST have that to help teachers, right?) to be in your room at the beginning of class. Tell them it’s not a joke. They have to be there. Tell them they will need to be there only five minutes. As soon as the heads go down, wait, call the sleepers out by name and point to Rule #4 about posture and smile like your hands are tied. Give them a minute, no more, to comply. Then the admin/security gets them the hell out of there. This doesn’t work with those vortexes sucking energy out of the room. Sleepers in a traditional grammar class, fine – it IS boring. Sleepers in a CI class, out of the question. Zero tolerance always on sleeping.

            2b) I would not actually enter a grade in the book until Friday. I would end class, after the quiz, with an informal cheerful discussion about how they did. Make it light. Tell them that these classes until Friday don’t count but so and so has a 3 and so and so a 1 and tell them that’s ok with the 1, they can fix it by Friday. Always give them hope to strive for a better grade. Give them a chance. But burn ’em Friday if they don’t change. Count that Friday grade triple.If you don’t grade them strong on Friday, may as well throw jGR out the window. They’ll see your new way of teaching as bullshit.

            2c) give the kid the B bc that’s the point they go to.

            3) Nice move, the best move, on the Ooohs. Sometimes I do the cue to get them to do it and nobody does it. Who cares. I agree with the kids – if it feels childish to them, it is and you respect that. Stop doing it so much. Keep it organic as you say. There is no method here. No one way to do it. You do CI and they listen. If you’ve done that, you’ve done it all.

            4) This is my favorite question. Put them in the back. Worksheets. They are used to it. Tell them that the work you will be doing with the others is below them, a bit childish, and certainly not something they should have to do. Then watch what happens. They will stop doing worksheets. They will start listening. Don’t react. Make them come to you. Then say, “Look, you have to do one or the other.” Let them choose. I predict the two will join the class (they don’t know any French) but the AP kid will stick with the worksheets, holding out longer. When she caves, tell her it is a good decision, bc the AP exam is all about what you are doing with the class. Tell her ten years ago she needed worksheets but now she has to understand spoken French. Apologize that she has to listen to this kiddie stuff.

          2. I just want to follow up on Ben’s #4.

            I agree that students don’t have to “ooh” and “aah”, but they must indicate their understanding or lack thereof. That has to be non-negotiable. If they don’t indicate i some way, you have to ask them directly, but don’t just ask, “Did you understand?” They will, of course, say that they did – but they didn’t. You have to ask them to tell you in English what you just said. If they can’t do that, then they didn’t understand you, and you have to work with them until they do comprehend.

            The danger of choral “oohs” and “aahs” is that they can be a mask for lack of understanding. Students get used to the fact that there is a class response, so they just go along with it without ever understanding what was said. Sometimes when I have honed in on a student I have overheard other students whisper, “Just say, ‘Ja’ so he’ll move on.” Of course that means that I will spend extra time making certain that there is comprehension. I will also explain to students that the point isn’t to “move on” or “cover” so much material. The point is to communicate and actually understand what is going on. Students have to re-learn what the class is about, and it takes many, many repetitions of the lesson.

  7. Some horses have an annoying habit of constantly yanking on the reins. They may have learned it from bad riders who held the reins too tight, but basically it means they don’t respect the signals you’re sending them and they want to make the decisions instead of you. My instructor says that you can correct them at once, the first or second time they do it, or you can let it slide and it will get worse and worse. If you do correct them (with a quick upward yank) you have to do it every time, consistently. Once or twice is usually enough for them to decide you’re the boss. And from then on they’ll walk as quietly as lambs and you can actually ride with loose reins. But if you started out by letting it slide, it will take several repeated corrections before they decide that this time you mean it. The important thing is to catch them every time they start yanking their head. If you’re not consistent, they’ll decide that your occasional corrections don’t mean anything anyway, that they’re just an annoying habit that you have.

    1. The other thing with a horse – and students – is that you must correct the misbehavior the moment it occurs. Horses think that whatever they were doing when the discipline was administered is what is wrong. In a similar way, students don’t associate the discipline with the wrong behavior if the two are separated by too much time. Personally, I think this is why much school discipline fails to achieve desired results – too much time passes before the student has to serve the detention or Saturday school, etc.

  8. Michelle Kuehnlein

    Excellent points made by all! It took me a long time to figure out how to consistently make sure that discipline is preceeding instruction, at all times, and how to discipline in a loving way. We have to keep in mind that many of our kids are raising themselves, and more than ever they need us to direct them in a firm, yet loving way, into the right direction. Whether we like it or not, we are now expected to help raise them too!

  9. I have to say that this — consistent discipline as per the jGR — is tough for me to stick to, but I’m getting better! Just gotta keep trying to improve. For me, I let English leak out from the kids way too much when I’m asking for suggestions for the stories. That seems to be when I lose them. I’m going to continue to try to pull in the reigns during that period (I’ve tried different things — i.e. having students raise their hands to suggest answers, pep talks), but I need to be stricter about it. What a great post for me to read right now!

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