Question for the Group

I’m returning to teaching after staying home to raise my 3 kids. I was taught to teach very traditionally in my schooling and I don’t want to teach that way! CI seems so much more organic. I just returned from an interview for a small private school – one of their classes only has 3 students in it! It seems like I will have a lot of autonomy but what do you recommend as the most effective CI activities for such a small class?? I imagine a lot of the activities are better if not necessary to have a larger group. Thoughts? 

My answer:

The three kids will be the hardest class to teach by far. How do you build a community when there is none? One danger is to become overfamiliar with the kids. Anotherr is that it is probably kids who last year were able to wrap their teacher around their finger and they are waiting to do the same to you and when you hit them with the eye contact thing, when they are used to making eye contact with verb charts. One of them, as I think back on my years of doing this, will try to take the other two on a crusade to go back to traditional teaching, that is IF they are not level one brand new kids. So if they are level one you are fine, they will come your way immediately.

However, how to build class size?

At the American Embassy School in New Delhi, India last year I had a class of eight. So I asked the kids if we could make up some invisible students. We did and that really worked. It is a far cry from TPRS, which  has become (not originally intended to be this way by Blaine Ray but that is just my own opinion, formed after asking him what he thought about targeting vs. non-targeting. I feel that this book, with the Big CI Book for basic CI strategies, will set you up just fine with even that really small class. Although I would put my foot down and tell counseling to move those three to other classes. Absolutely. 




3 thoughts on “Question for the Group”

  1. I am no expert, but I had a class of 4 once. We did a lot of TPRS and you can do pretty good stuff in a story (if they buy in) with that few kids. No real fighting with the kids to manage the class you just ask a story and pick the kid with the best answer. You might have super low energy since they are so few. If you are an extrovert that would be the worst, but if not no big deal. Instead of special person interviews I would more like PQA the class. I don’t target any things, I think of really interesting questions that I want to know about my students and then I ask them. I will put responses on the board. Asking the class what smell they would be for example? Or what is the ideal pet? Not because I am talking about smells or because we are working on pets/animals, but because i like kids’ responses. My current favorites are if you were a clown-themed super hero what would your super power be?

    I think leaning heavy on SSR and book talks would be a key.

    If possible movie talking something longer than a little youtube clip would be good. Like a movie 0r a tv show. You can really teach to the eyes with those 3 and if 1 kid is like i want grammar instruction he has to fight the other 2 to not watch a movie.
    The only thing i disagree with Ben on is that I do think you can have a community of 4 people. You have to believe that your students in that class are your family and they have to believe it. You are not their mom, but you are their language parent and that means we are a family.
    I do like his advice about not getting over familiar with them though.

    i also think that good old fashioned story listening would be good because it would be much more like a home setting telling a story to children.

    Finally I know this is taboo these days but a class novel might not be a bad idea either since you only have 3 the range of differences won’t be lessened but you ability to meet those students where they are will be greater in that class than in a normal setting.

    Finally building a program will come with using CI methods it takes the class away from the 4%ers and gives it to everyone. Your numbers will grow in time when kids hear you watch soap operas in class you listen to cool music and you use real language instead of drilling verbs.

    hope that helps

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