Unprecedented 1

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben's Patreon at $10 or more
Already a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to access this content.



17 thoughts on “Unprecedented 1”

  1. Thank you to whoever wrote this. I am just getting in to my book bag which has been sitting in the corner for two weeks. This is a reminder that the kids are not as happy to be back in school after a 16 day hiatus as I am – although, I am not sure I am. It’s so easy to disconnect from the work. The image of Sisyphus pushing the rock up the mountain always come to mind. I have spent most of the vacation with my two year old grandson and wondering what the world will do to him despite the best efforts of his parents and extended family. I have a dear friend who raised her kids with no television in their home and I remember thinking it was strange. Her daughter has two girls and they only watch what their parents make available on the computer-I applaud her. Your advice to not take on the responsibility for their rudeness and lack of engagement is right on the money – when you think of what popular culture and current events throw at these kids, is it any wonder that we teachers cannot lead them to engagement in class?

  2. I listened to an audiobook last summer that really influenced my thinking about my difficult students. Unfortunately :), I mostly have wonderful kids this year, so I can’t test it out! Or maybe some things I learned have helped me have better relationships with my students. The book was “The Anatomy of Peace” by the Arbinger Institute, whatever that is. The main thing I took away from the book was the realization that I had labeled some kids as uncooperative (and worse in my head) and then justified my negative feelings toward them because, after all, they were uncooperative. I guess the point of the book is that we need to re-humanize those with whom we have conflict. I don’t think I can explain the book very well (borrowed from the library–I need to hear it again before I say much more about it. Ben, I sent a print version to you via Amazon–hope you got it.)

    That said, I totally agree that rudeness is at an unprecidented high and it is up to us to combat it. I’ve encouraged other teachers at my school to up their expectations for respect as well. I’m astonished how often I witness teachers talking to students while kids carry on side conversations and the teachers just increase their volume rather than demanding silence. Kids really do respond to where we set the bar for behavior. Yes, it’s the kids, but they are as they are because so few adults in their lives expect more from them.

    And Chill–we lived sans TV for 25 years, feeling it was more deliterious than beneficial. My son is now a TV news anchor/reporter. Ironic…

  3. Yes I got that book and thank you. Haven’t started it yet.

    …we need to re-humanize those with whom we have conflict….

    That is totally it and most of the articles dealing with classroom discipline published on this blog over the years are based on exactly that idea, for example, the use of jobs. Thank you Rita.

    Many, many teachers – far too many – cannot hear that message and I would guess that none of them are in our PLC, since the invisible message of this entire site is that our work here together is about making our instruction more human. Period.

    No wonder we are going through such stress and being met with such incalculable opposition on a daily basis by the macro idiots who innocently hold us to ideas and models of assessing our instruction that are so wrong.

    We are in a clone war and vastly outnumbered, but we can’t blame the clones, but neither can we take them lightly. We must fight. How? Use jGR more and without waivering when we give an A student a 2, for starters. And give more and more of our heart each day in this work. I see no other option.

  4. …I’m astonished how often I witness teachers talking to students while kids carry on side conversations and the teachers just increase their volume rather than demanding silence….

    Yes, and WTF is up with that? And again, that kind of thing just ain’t gonna happen in a classroom where the jGR sentry is up there next to the teacher up to the side and front of the classroom in the form of a big poster.

    I have a simple message to everyone in this group as we start the new year – use jGR and the jobs or have discipline issues. It’s just my opinion, but I feel it is an accurate thing to say.

  5. Yes, Ben, I am really beginning to understand how jobs are part of the classroom discipline puzzle. I’m using more of them this year and want everyone to have a job eventually. I see how it creates a greater sense of community and responsibility for the smooth functioning of the class. I used to teach elementary school Spanish and saw how classroom teachers had jobs for each child, but never thought of doing that myself. And it’s funny–in high school when students could really be a greater help, that jobs thing seems generally absent. So thank you for emphasizing this.

  6. And Rita I would add two points about the jobs:

    1. jobs absolutely emerge organically. We don’t assign them. When we assign them, the air goes out of the balloon. With some, like the Mais Bleater, they have to audition behind the rolling white board or in the back of the room or whatever, as auditions are held in orchestras, and that makes for hilarity and bonding with the kids.

    2. since the jobs emerge, it can take all year to get as few as fifteen jobs assigned. Classes with boring kids can end the year with only the basic necessary jobs of quiz writer, story writer, the three PQA counters and maybe the bleater and the where person. Others get deep into it. It depends on the kids how many jobs get assigned.

    To emphasize the key point again – we let the jobs emerge naturally over time, as a process. For more on this, click on the Jobs category on the right side of this page.

  7. and if any of you are mentoring beginning teachers, or working with student teachers, this message about not letting students talk while you are talking is the most valuable experience that you can offer them.

    I cannot believe how many teachers not only allow this, but tolerate it and expect it and therefore encourage it. I don’t know why. I can only think that no one has ever shown them that it doesn’t need to happen, and that there are ways of preventing it and stopping it.

    It is also the greatest gift that you can give your students. It is a practice in listening, giving attention to someone other than themselves.

    with love,

  8. Schools aren’t involved now with much more than control of children and stuffing information into them that can be measured. That’s all I mean above. What is happneing now reflects the opposite of what education can be, the Socratic piece, the questioning piece, the “What if?” piece, the piece where you get to hang out at the upper end of the taxonomy all day.

    Education is now a business. I’m often not certain that TPRS can work in schools. It’s too right brained. Gains our kids make aren’t easily measured. We must each of us decide if we can make the method work for our kids given the framework of top down control and teacher bullying that is now happening in epidemic proportions.

    Here, read this by Krashen. He says it much better than I do:


  9. I just re-read this post, and comment here in the hopes that it causes others to see it again. Helpful for me to re-read here in the last month of the school year!

  10. Thanks Diane,

    It was indeed a good reread.

    One of the bullet points read : “learn things from YouTube that support unacceptable social behaviors (teens laughing at rape was on the HuffPost front page today) ”

    That is the saddest statement, TRULY. In my own household I decided last April that we were going to stop cable subscription b/c:

    1) I don’t watch TV
    2) the content of what is on many channel is if not plain dumb, mind numbing, and idolizing the wrong people (read Kim Kardashian)
    3) I couldn’t monitor my kids’ TV intake (and they are by no mean big TV watchers but enough to drive me crazy) . So , with the loss of cable they stopped watching TV anymore and I was happy.

    Unfortunately at the beginning of the school year I lost that battle b/c as soon as football and basketball season began I was outnumbered in my house and had to go get cable or get killed by 2 boys and one husband.

    Sadly, most cultural references my kids refer to at home is derived from TV shows that may not necessarily be bad in content (although I’m not a specialist b/c like I said I do not watch TV) like the Simpsons and such. However, b/c they are kids they cannot necessarily read between the lines and appreicate the different points of view, sarcasm, irony etc… and they take what is said at face value and in IMHO that is very dangerous.

    We are allowing a desensitization/vulgarization for horrific acts and our kids can no longer see evil for what it is, hence Ben’s comment about laughing at rape. Same goes with some electronic games that equate war, blood and weapons to fun and some kind of competition.

    Yesterday I witnessed in my school (where BTW a few kids died this year from gang shootings) a bloody fight and kids were actually CHEERING! This is common occurence wher I teach.

    I agree that we cannot entirely blame ourselves as individuals but I wonder if we can blame ourselves collectively as a culture that promotes, encourages or vulgarizes such behaviors.

    1. Robert Harrell

      Sabrina, I believe we can blame our society, but we have to remember that we are members of that society and help to shape it. People who object out loud to what seems mainstream are often vilified, but we need to continue to let people know that there are standards by which we abide, and not everything is acceptable.

      I once read a commentary that expressed some of the same ideas and went a bit further. Children become used to playing video games in which everyone has several “lives” before losing the game; even then they can re-start the game and begin again as if nothing had happened. Very young children then are surprised when a real death is permanent; older children often still have not fully made the connection between cause and effect.

      1. Sabrina Sebban-Janczak


        I agree with you. I do help shape the society in which I live, but I sometimes feel as if I lived anachronistically (is that even a word in english?). I am not sure if it is a cultural clash b/c I was not raised here in the States or because my ideas are old fashion. I can relate to the 60’s and the ideas back then better than now.

        But hey despite all this gloomy stuff, I am an optimist at heart and always believe the glass is half full.

        There is hope, I firmly believe it. How?

        I am reminded every day there is hope by one of my students, a French 1 foreign exchange student from Paraguay whom I adore and he loves me too.
        He said it to the whole class one day, and in French I might add (je l’aime). That was back in the fall and I had tears in my eyes and my heart got filled with warmth that I still carry with me today every time I think about it.

        This kid comes to me every single day after my last class and sits there while I enter grades or finalize my day. We talk about everything and then he gives me a hug. EVERY DAY! I often tell Marybeth that I don’t know how I am going to survive next year without Daniel (his name) b/c he is only here for a year 🙁

        So when I see kids like this, and there are plenty out there, I know there is hope!

  11. Robert Harrell

    We started California Standardized Testing today. The emphasis on the importance of this testing has been enormous. To start the day, we had a 25-minute second period. Then we tested, followed by lunch. After lunch we had periods 4 and 6. I made the mistake of actually trying to teach something before the exam. After the exam I used a really cheesy short video from Teacher’s Discovery (I like it) to do some Movie Talk. That worked much better. Sixth period is my conference, so I am done for the day.

    When I started fourth period I said, “I made the mistake this morning of thinking that I could actually teach something during second period.” The class laughed and said, “Yep, that was a mistake.” Sometimes it’s us; sometimes it’s them; sometimes it’s just the whole situation that makes instruction well nigh impossible.

  12. Between CO state testing and DPS WL pre and post testing, we lose four weeks, plus a lot of other time with make ups. This ties into the current thread started by Sabrina of needing thousands and not hundreds of hours. If we need that much time, what are we doing blowing out a month of instruction?

    Of course the fact that we need so much time is great ammunition for those who criticize the method, because by pointing to the lack of visible output gains in the first few years as the exponential curve is being built, they can say that the method doesn’t work. In that light, losing four or more weeks of CI to testing is especially noxious.

    They themselves have zero results of their own, excepting from their four percenters, which carry them and perpetuate the illusion they create. Certainly the other 96% are lost to the language.

    Add to the mix semester and final exam week, and we have roughly 1/6 of the year blown out. The only intelligent reaction we can have to this loss of time is to temper our expectations with CI and give little attention to those who criticize our work.

    My own opinion is that when we start rounding the exponential curve on output in the second half of year three and into year four, we’ll produce kids who can deliver the goods and, with no research needed, shut people up by the depth and breadth of their output skills. We just need to have more four year CI programs in our schools. They will provide the proof everybody wants.

    That is Chris’ next paper – to teach 9th graders for four years. That’s the research we need.

    1. So we guessed about 500 hours in high school, right? If I’m being realistic I’d say literally almost half that is thrown out because of testing, other requirements, the “blah” feeling, announcements, assemblies, brain breaks, and so on. So we actually have more like 250-350 hours of real, solid input.

      Yeah… it’s time for some more realistic expectations.

Leave a Comment

  • Search

Get The Latest Updates

Subscribe to Our Mailing List

No spam, notifications only about new products, updates.

Related Posts

The Problem with CI

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

CI and the Research (cont.)

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

Research Question

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to

We Have the Research

To view this content, you must be a member of Ben’s Patreon at $10 or more Unlock with PatreonAlready a qualifying Patreon member? Refresh to



Subscribe to be a patron and get additional posts by Ben, along with live-streams, and monthly patron meetings!

Also each month, you will get a special coupon code to save 20% on any product once a month.

  • 20% coupon to anything in the store once a month
  • Access to monthly meetings with Ben
  • Access to exclusive Patreon posts by Ben
  • Access to livestreams by Ben