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R and E: Trust And The Rules Archived Post 3.20.12

(Originally posted 3/20/12)

Rules are the first expectations that we communicate to our students.

Teachers who are new to TPRS, or struggling with TPRS often want to know what Rules work best. We have been taught that Rules=Discipline.

Rules are not discipline. Rules are communication. They tell students what we expect. From the rules students infer what we value. If there are toomany or they are too specific and we send the message that we value control. If there are too few or the consequences for breaking them are too spare, we communicate that we value the students’ admiration more than their cooperation.

What we should strive for are rules that set boundaries for the relationships that we want in our classrooms. So the question is: What boundaries are necessary for successful discipline and acquisition?

These are mine…

1. Pay attention when someone is communicating.

2. Ask questions when there is confusion.

3. Point out when there is a problem.

4. Make a situation better rather than worse.

5. Try not to offend or harm.

6. Join in.

7. Appreciate and honor.

8. Honor individuals.

9. Honor relationships.

10. When possible, do all of the above enthusiastically and creatively.

None of them specifically deal with language. Why? #8. If I make make a rule that specifically states how much language can be used, or what kind, then I have to make sure that it is appropriate for all my students,every day, at every level, in every situation and then keep track. I’ll never pull that off.

I keep my rules in mind for behavior. I keep the language in mind for the activity involved. Before we start, I’ll let them know what I have in mind for language. If I don’t, eventually rules # 2 and #3 come into effect and I have to address the issue.

When I have a rule that says “No English”, I engage the natural and instinctive teenage reaction to rules: Break ’em.

When I ask students to say something again in Spanish rather than English, they just do, if they can. If they can’t then I realize that they aren’t ready for production of that structure at that moment. I handle it in whatever way is best for that class at that moment and move on.

Are you wondering if they just answer me in English all the time? Some try. Most don’t. Why would they? If they trust me, if we are interacting in Spanish, if they are confident and capable, if they are engaged…well then, they speak to me in Spanish because that is what we do. Not because that is the rule.

Believe it or not. :o)

Does it happen instantly? No. But what we are focused on for the majority of our instruction and interaction is INPUT. INPUT leads to acquisition.

Output has other functions. If I have a heavy-handed No English Ever rule, then I give output another function: What to do to make the teacher angry.

Totally against all of my rules. :o)

Next question: So when might we “require” the TL from students instead of L1???

* When it is fun…like a silly signal response.

* When it is cultural, like after a sneeze.

* When it is easy, like thank you or yes.

* During lessons for acquisition.

We will get so so so much more L2 from students when we make it a natural, comfortable and confident part of our interactions and relationships than we will ever ever ever get from making it a rule.

The person who needs the rule is US. We are the ones who need to remember to communicate and to interact with slow, clear, Comprehensible Input in the TL.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

R and E: An Atmosphere of Trust Archived Post 3.20.12

(Originally posted 3/20/12)

In the last piece I wrote, “It is important we connect with the class for at least a moment to them know that we are here, we are glad that they are here, and that we will be making the decisions that direct what happens in the room.”

If I make a few changes, I can summarize what I believe about discipline:

“We must connect with the class in order to let each student know that we are here, that we are glad that they are here, and that we will be making the decisions that direct what happens in the room.”

When all three of those are present, we are on the right path. When even one of those is missing in a given moment, we are on a dangerous detour. It is when we have been juggling one or two of those instead of all three that we see our individual students and entire classes slipping away. With some groups it is the only way to keep everyone safe ( I have several of these groups this year!!!!!!). At this time of year it becomes very important. (I know that many of us are feeling it.)

As Susie has often told us, “Discipline proceeds instruction.”

At the beginning of the year, the beginning of the period, the beginning of the activity, the beginning of the conversation.

Connect first, then communicate: I’m here. I’m glad that you’re here. I’m making the final decisions.

Of course there are many, many other things implied: I’m here because I care. I’m here because I’m knowledgeable. I’m here because you matter.

I’m here because I want to be. I’m glad that you are in my world. I’m glad that you came to class today. I’m glad that you’re trying. I’m glad that you trust me. I’m glad that you exist. I will listen to you. I will take your thoughts and feelings into consideration. I will pay attention to you. I will see the good things about you. I will forgive the difficult things about you.

I have faith in you. I have faith in the adult you will be come. I will honor the child inside of you. I can see great things in you. I will not let you hurt yourself. I will not let you hurt others. I will not let others hurt you. I will help you to learn to deal with problems. We all have struggles.

We all have feelings. Everyone matters. I am the adult and will do my best to act like one at all times. I will remember that I may be the adult, but I am not always right. I will try to model all of the behaviors that I expect from you…especially forgiveness. I will be in charge. I will take the responsibility. I will walk the walk.

But only three need to be said on a regular basis…and with our actions as well as our words:

I’m here. I’m glad that you are here. I’m making the final decisions about what is best for this class.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts for Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

R and E: Transitions and Signals 3.19.12

(Originally posted 3/19/12)

Smooth transitions are a key piece to successful classroom management. But getting a class to make smooth transitions is a bit like grocery shopping with a hungry toddler!

Most of us do not start out using TPRS in the classroom for an entire class period. Even when we get to that point on some days, we rarely do just one CI-based activity (ie PQA or storyasking) for an entire class period..especially if our students are young, novices or we teach on the block!!!!!

We can make our world, and our students, much happier if we delineate when an activity, and the expected behaviors that go with it, start and end.

To do that, we first need a clearly taught, practiced and incorporated way to get out students’ attention. The truth is…we all have one. Maybe we didn’t mean to teach it or are even aware that we did, but our behavior did.

Kids do have instincts..very good ones. If we haven’t taught them a specific signal and response to get attention, then they will just do what they want to until they sense that we are on the edge of ____(insert yelling, screaming, throwing something, using the evil eye etc. here) and then they will listen up. If we never get to that point and just teach on whether or not they are listening, then we have taught them that what we want and what we say shouldn’t matter to them. The question is…

Question #3: What is an EFFECTIVE way to get the attention of an entire group?

Choose/create a signal and response. Teach it, practice it, use it. Repeat.

Many of you know that I am a huge proponent of the signal. Just as Blaine utilized Págames, I could not teach without a signal. If you don’t know what I mean then here is an explanation.

The only way that you can truly run a classroom is to have a way to get students to be silent, stop all activities and listen to what you have to say.

You don’t have to use my idea of a signal. But you need something and you need to teach it, practice it, use it and never let your students forget how important it is. Not only for a lesson, but for safety, security and sanity.

Anything can happen in a classroom.

On any given day with a class of freshmen I can use a signal as many as 15 times in 40 minute period. Sometimes it is to refocus/make a transition. Sometimes it is to add humor. Sometimes it is just a brain break. Sometimes it is to restore order. The more mature/experience the students, the less often I need a signal…but I always need one.

The most powerful thing about teaching, practicing and utilizing a signal is that it is the CLEAREST example we can give of what INTERACTION should look like…..and our entire teaching method/approach/whatever is based on interaction. Teach/practice/use an attention signal and you have the basis of the classroom that you want.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Rules and Expectations During a Lesson 3.18.12

(Originally posted 3/18/12)

Here are some interactions that you will see being used in TPRS. I’ll list them in “script” format..the way that we might say them to students.

For students who are NEW TO THE TL and/or NEW TO TPRS, the first explanations will probably be in L1. ONLY IF WE ARE POSITIVE THAT OUR

EXPLANATIONS WILL BE TOTALLY COMPREHENSIBLE IN L2 should we be explaining the expectations in L2. This will keep you sane, your students cooperative, and leave you time for acquisition activities in the classroom.

* “When I say CLASS, I expect that all of you will respond by (doing X or answering the question)”

* “I’m going to have my fist in the air, when my had opens, it’s time to respond.”

* “When I say one student’s name, that student will respond and everyone else will watch and listen.”

* “I am going to ask the same question, or a similar question several times…listen for it.”

* “I pause after statements so that you can hear the new information and picture it in your head.”

* “I may go too fast sometimes, or use a phrase you don’t know, stop me with the signal.”

* “This is fascinating information. When I give you the signal, you will respond by saying _______”etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

Each of these is a new skill for your students to acquire. They should be taught ONE AT A TIME. Then practiced. Then incorporated into lessons. Then retaught and re-practiced as needed and with love.

These are the BASIC statements. As teachers get more skilled, many add other components/ideas, all of which require the same teaching/explanation – practice – incorporation cycle.

More skilled components may include getting students to be actors, having students add sound effects, dialoguing with actors, retelling a story with errors that students identify, etc. etc. etc. Any time that a new skilled component is added, we must give our students the courtesy of teaching them what is expected, practicing the new behavior and repeatedly incorporating it into our lesson.

Some teachers will slide easily into being a TPRS lesson planner/instructor. Others will need to take it slowly, one step at a time. Being a fast or slow processor of this new approach is NOT an indication of how successful you and your students will be. Every single one of us who embraces this approach is working every day to be better at it. There is never a moment when we say “Whoooo hoooo!!!! I am THERE!!!! I’ll just keep doing what I’m doing and I’m good.” Nope…every single one of us is continually on the journey…learning from each other and even more from our students. Don’t worry about “getting there”. Just settle in where you are…and be aware that there is always another beautiful place to get to tomorrow.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Rules and Expectations Part 2 3.18.12

(Originally posted 3/18/12)

Question #2: What is required?

Required of the student:

* Eyes, ears and brain on where the teacher has directed attention (the teacher, actors, a picture, a phrase, a reading)

* A signal when the student does not understand what is being communicated.

* A response when and how the teacher has indicated. This may be verbal or physical.

Required of the teacher:

* A clear explanation of the above and repeated reminders as necessary in a clear but kind manner.

* Honoring and celebrating when individuals or classes do the above.

* Clear, comprehensible TL during the lesson.

* Clear preparation of what responses are required and when.

* Consistent use of the gestures/indicators that have been taught as the lesson is orchestrated. (yes..pun intended)

A number of folks have great rules posted in their classrooms for students.These teachers teach the rules and use the rules. These work best when the teachers think about the needs of their own students and adjust/add rules as necessary. Some of these include (wording may vary):

Clear eyes on the teacher.

Listen and respond.

No language that isn’t part of the interaction.

Try to stay in (insert TL here)

The expectations are simple to state ….but involve scaffolded training and practice to use. The behavior of students according to these rules will also DIFFER from class to class, level to level and teacher to teacher.
Dialogue with teachers will help each of us to create the best wording and usage with our own students.

Now…these are the rules/expectations for the LESSON.

Rules/expectations for other classroom activities may differ.

(see the next post…if you’ve made it this far…)

What we, as teachers, need to think about, and add, bit by bit, step by step as we continue on down the road as CI teachers is what responses are needed from the class, how to teach them, how to elicit them and how to celebrate them. So much to think about…

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts for Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Rules and Expectations: Part 1 3.7.12

(Originally posted 3/7/12)

What you see here is a compilation of comments from the MORETPRS listserv, TPRStalks, Ben Slavic’s blog, observations of other teachers and my own thoughts. I cannot stress enough how timely and important Sara’s question is for us as individual teachers this time of year AND in this season of language education as more and more teachers become interested in using

Comprehensible Input with their students. Teri has mentioned that we are getting closer to a critical mass of CI teachers and she is right. This issue of rules/expectations is crucial if we are to help teachers become CI teachers.

It is crucial if we are to convince departments to become CI departments.

Several of you expressed this so well: We need rules and we need expectations for our students in order to create an atmosphere that does the following:

a. allows and encourages each student to feel physically and emotionally safe, as a student and as a person.

b. allows the teacher to conduct the class and accomplish whatever leadership duties are important to the running of a safe school.

c. provides the maximum possible amount of Comprehensible Input each time the class meets.

d. facilitates both spontaneous and controlled interaction as often as possible.

When a teacher is first exploring the use of TPRS in the classroom, the conditions above are extremely beneficial, in fact nearly requisite, in order for successful CI based lessons to occur. The problem is that presenters are so often naturally gifted or extraordinarily experienced at creating these conditions. Not to mention the fact that the class during a presentation is made up of attentive language teachers!! (well…not always, but that is another story!)

There is also so much to see and take in, that when we first are starting out that we often only focus on what we the teachers should do in order to make a CI lesson happen. We have to figure out what story-asking looks like, how to make circling really happen, how to elicit responses, what to do with them when we get them, how to PQA, what to do with reading, how to work it in with what we already do…etc. etc. etc.

A piece has been missing and Sara has just pointed it out quite clearly.

Question #1: HOW DO WE TRAIN OUR STUDENTS TO BE TPRS STUDENTS?

a. They need to understand that a CI lesson is an INTERACTIVE lesson.

Many of them have never seen one…or haven’t since kindergarten….Here is a sample script:

“I am going to do or say something that will encourage your brain to acquire (insert L2 here). I will make it clear if one or all of you will respond, and what you should do in response.”

And then we have to live up to that promise. It will take a little time, but when it is clearly outlined, and clearly executed, with love and patience, it is nearly flawless.

Many of you know that I use the analogy of an orchestra with my students. The class is the orchestra. I am the Maestro. I will indicate if the entire orchestra is responding, one section, or if there is a soloist. If I don’t, there will be mess of noise. The students will attempt to play with insufficient guidance until one by one the give up drift into their own little conversations and activities.

You can follow Carol Gaab’s model on this. She clearly gestures exactly when she wants the response to happen so that wait/think time occurs. She may use a prop or a hand signal. Her entire body is poised and alert and frozen signalling “Wait for it, wait for it…NOW!” and the class responds.

You can follow Blaine’s model on this as well. Blaine’s signal is verbal…”Clase”….precedes the question and the entire class responds. “Princesa”…precedes the question and the class knows that Princesa will be responding. He inserts one individual response in sea of class responses and they know that they need to pay attention. If he doesn’t get the response that he wants, he lovingly chides them by saying, “Claaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaase” with the occasional “Es obvio” and the class/orchestra is brought back in to play.

Teach.

Practice.

Reteach as necessary.

Not language: expectations and behavior.

In a CI classroom, language is acquired and behavior is learned.

The good news is that many of us have had years of experience in how to get kids to learn. All of the skills that we thought we helping them w/ language we can now use in order to help them learn the behaviors that they need in our rooms in order to be able to interact with us and with the language in order to acquire it.

So, for a CI-based lesson, whether it centers around PQA,discussion, story-asking or reading, our students must learn how to interact. We must teach them what is required, require what is required, and reteach when they are not giving us what is required.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts for Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Forward: March! Archived Post 3.8.12

(Originally posted 3/8/12)

So now I have received this amazing pile of blessings! I realized that I haven’t been appreciating and getting to know my students. I had a student who usually isn’t obviously engaged step up and extend an offer of help and support. I have a room that has 3 of it’s 4 walls clean, bright and new…..ready for a new start. I have a new desk arrangement, that “accidentally” occurred when we had to block off the “messy corner”.

Next week will, undoubtedly, be another typically stressful and busy week. But we will be one week closer to Spring. I am starting Monday with the questions…In September who were you? Who are you now? In June who will you be?

I’ll start with a sports theme…in September were you a Buffalo Bills fan? Now are you an SU fan? In June will you be a Yankees fan? And we’ll move into a few other things from there…we’ll just see where it takes us….Because I have 4 classes of juniors and seniors this year, we’ll have a lot to talk about.

And over the weekend, I’ll do a bit of reflection myself…as much about my “outside of school” self as my teacher self. We also need to get reacquainted with ourselves from time to time to be any good to our students.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts for Teaching 2009-present and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Believe In Me Archived Post 11.2.11

(Originally posted 11/2/11)

I tried not to, but I have gotten pulled into Oprah’s Life Class on her new network: OWN. It’s become addictive. I haven’t signed on to the website and started my own private journal or tweeted but I find myself looking for the next show so I can learn more. I channel-surfed looking for another channel but landed back on OWN. You see, sometimes the world aligns so that you hear the absolutely perfect message.

It didn’t really start with the Oprah class. It started with the program preceding it: The Rosie Show. Another show that I didn’t really plan to watch. It was a tribute to Phyllis Diller. I was too tired to move and just let it play. Until Phyllis spoke about a comedian who gave her a compliment when she first started her career. She said, ‘For the first time, someone that I believed in, believed in me.” And Rosie repeated “Sometimes that is the turning point, when someone you believe in, believes in you.”

Wow.

As adults we have two jobs. In order to be a person that can better the lives of children is to a) Be someone a child can believe in. b) Believe in the child.

That woke me up and tuned me in. And kept me so focused that I stayed awake to watch the next Oprah class…which…as God or the universe…..whichever you prefer….would offer…is about
validation.

The last hour has been so aha-producing that here I am writing a post before it is even over. It started with a quote by Toni Morrison. A question actually. She asked, “When a child walks into the room, do your eyes light up? Does that child know that you care that he or she exists?”

Now there is this man talking to his abusive parents (who aren’t there but his wife is standing in to be a person who actually hears him). Listen to the things he says :

“You didn’t have children because you wanted children. You had children because you thought they would make you happy. We can’t and now you punish us every day. We are not people to you. We are just one more thing that you hate and you can punish us for it.”

Oh my. How much of the reason that we do our job is because we love how being good at a language makes us feel? How important is it that our students “respect” us by following our rules(write in black pen, don’t hand in pages ripped out from a spiral notebook, don’t be absent on test day)? How bent out of shape do we get when a pep rally or field trip or Honor Society induction get our perfectly constructed schedule out of whack? How frustrated do we get when they don’t do homework, fail tests or don’t come in for extra help because it destroys everything we’ve tried to do? Or did we get into teaching because we truly love our students?

Is teaching about us? Or is it about them?

If I’m being honest.

Then I have to ask myself… Do I communicate my joy in my students and in teaching? Or, am I transferring my own frustration about not being seen and heard as an educator to my classroom?

Am I, while I am in front of my students, forgetting to put people before points and relationships before data?

I think it can be very easy for our students to become the targets of our own anger, about situations that they have no control over, because they are our captive audience. Sometimes there is a fine line between keeping them informed of how the world works and keeping them informed about how the world works us.

“What I need is for you to teach me how to love. How to show love, how to receive love, how to appreciate love. Show me how to treat other people with respect. Show me how to make other people feel precious. I want to be able to do that but I just don’t have any idea how. All I know is what you show me.”

What if, just what if, I am the only adult that will hear this message from a child? What if, just what if, I am the only adult he or she might be willing to listen to about this kind of learning? Am I there? Am I doing what I need to do?

Do I hear my students asking, “Do you believe in me?”

And what answer do my actions give?

Thanks Ms. Diller. Thanks Rosie. Thanks Ms. Morrison. Thanks Oprah.

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

Relationships Not Candy Archived Post 10.25.11

(Originally posted 10/25/11)

This was written in response to request from a teacher who had written her with classroom management struggles. The teacher felt that her best day had been when she brought in candy as a reward. She didn’t want to continue that practice, but was desperate to find something that works.

My heart goes out to anyone struggling with classroom management. At one time we have all had a group or groups that made us want to tear our hair out…..and praying for the magic formula to make a group ‘work”….or at least not be the stuff our nightmares are made of. We try any number of approaches…..including attempts to win them, or at least their behavior, with rewards like candy. If you haven’t been there, at least once, you’ve lived a blessed teaching life.

There is no magic bullet, no simple answer, but this teacher and I can tell you that candy is not the answer. Candy works only when it makes a rare occurrence…..and it is presented as a gift. “I thought about you today and brought this to show you my appreciation of your spirit and willingness to be a part of this class.” This is love. This has nothing to do with classroom management.

When candy is a reward it can lead to an ever-escalating “Me me !!” situation. What happens when a teacher can not afford candy, when the principal says no candy, when students start to get angry because it isn’t their favorite candy, etc.? In my case it turned into bitter and angry and resentful feelings IN ME!!! because they were ungrateful….when in reality I had set them, and myself, up for it by bribing.

Classroom management is so hard. It once was governed by clear rules and boundaries, parental and administrative support, and a general respect for the institution and adults.

None of those things are guaranteed today and it truly is about the relationships in the classroom.

THE most influential relationship is the relationship that each student has with him/herself. If the student values himself enough to want to have self-control (even if it is hard to attain) the student has the most valuable tool in the toolbox.

The most important relationship in our classroom is our relationship with our students. Whenever possible treat them with love, with love, with love. When we do that, and make our decisions because of that, everything else comes much more easily. When students know that a teacher cares about them, more than anything else, they are willing to collect and use tools in the toolbox. Caring about our students will not, however, eliminate our challenges.

The next most powerful relationship is between the student and the language. When that is strong and positive, discipline problems virtually disappear. But that takes time, and the erasing, for many students, of many years of negative conditioning about school and language “study.” That is why, as Susie so often says, “Success is the best motivator.” They need to know, and to see, that their tools, and skills work!

The next most powerful is the relationship between the students themselves.

Again, they come to us with their own histories and we must handle what already exists. We could try to make them “behave” a certain way because they like us as teachers, but in middle school and high school, the opinion of peers FAR FAR FAR outweighs the opinion of any adult. What we can do is to establish very clear boundaries about the language, facial expressions, gestures and interactions that we believe will help to create a positive relationship among our students.

The least important relationship is the one between the teacher and the language. Sadly, in many rooms around the world this is the strongest relationship in the classroom. Our passion for the languages and cultures so dear to our hearts is a lovely thing….but it is OURS. Not our students’.

It should be our tool that we use to help strengthen the relationships above.

How does this help with classroom management? Make a list of what you do as a teacher to “manage” your classes. Which category do they fall into? The most energy and effort should go into the first two categories….finding ways to connect students with the language (using CI +P) and helping students to be safe with each other. By conducting ourselves in the most caring, professional way possible in the relationship with have with our students, and by not letting our own interests in a topic erase our efforts to connect kids with language, with each other and with us …we can really improve our classes.

In time. In our own way. In small steps. In a way that allows for dignity.

With patience. With optimism. With appropriate boundaries. With consequences.

By being honest. By being appreciative. By being kind. By being responsive.

and never, ever giving up,

with love,
Laurie

All content of this website © Hearts For Teaching and/or original authors. Unauthorized use or distribution of materials without express and written consent of the owners/authors is strictly prohibited. Examples and links may be used as long as clear and direct reference to the site and original authors is clearly established.

What Really Matters Archived Post 8.14.11

(Originally posted 8/14/11)

The final piece of the puzzle is to continually focus on my students as people who are acquiring language, not students fulfilling requirements under my watch. I do not need to know all of the personal details of their lives, but I do try to remember that they have lives. In a few short years, they will be out in the world working with my future grandchildren, helping my generation to pay for retirement, defending our country, earning a living and each of them already affects a world of folks around them.

I try to remember to ….

Treat each student as if he or she has the potential to change the world.

Because they all do.

I’m not sure that that answers all of Laura’s questions, or yours…so keep in touch.

with love,
Laurie

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