Management Question

So if you are new to the group don’t forget that what we do when we run into problems in class (this group is focused now in August and September on our Classroom Management 101 homework) is simply email the problem to me at and we talk about it. Three group members are currently working on bad blurting issues. Here is one of them:
Hello Ben,
I had a great start of the year, but I also had a few challenging days with some of my classes.
Whenever they were talking, I went to the board, pointed to #2 and quietly waited, smiling until they stopped. This worked for the first week. The second week, one of my students, while I was on the board pointing to #2 said to me why are you smiling and the whole class began to laugh.
I continued to smile while pointing to #2. The class stopped laughing but this student continued. I walked towards him, non-confrontational, looked at him and smiled. He became very uncomfortable and stopped. The student next to him who has Autism (undiagnosed) continued laughing. I ignored him for the time being and continued teaching. He stopped laughing.
I contacted the student’s mom (the one who started the laughing in class, who has an IEP. Mom thinks he is acting this way because its 7th period and I demand too much of him and maybe he needs to be switched to another class period. The next day he was fine.
My autistic student started laughing and disrupting the class, so I repeated what I did with the first student the day before. He became uncomfortable and yelled, “Why are you looking at me smiling? Stop looking at me! What did I do? etc. He stopped. I kind of felt I won the battle.
Now, my biggest problem I had this week was during OWI. I lost my class. We had a short schedule, so I went straight to OWI to create the character. I lost control of the class. First, they do not know how speak one at a time and I went to the board several times and pointed to #2 but not enough.
It was chaos. Can you give me some ideas on how to handle OWI? I definitely need to reread the section, but where did I go wrong? Thank you so much for always answering my questions.
BTW, the autistic student dropped my class. He does not need it to graduate.



12 thoughts on “Management Question”

  1. I hope we get more comments than just mine on this. It is “that time” when we either make our classroom management plan work or not. It’s about a two week window (no more) that we have to make our class obedient or not. There is a similar situation with a PLC member and I will post that here in a few days.
    This situation is best dissected. There is a lot going on. The kid who was overpowered by this teacher with her REFUSING TO BUDGE off of her position using Rule #2 was put in his place. I loved reading how this teacher did that. It proves that doing that is a good idea, a good part of the classroom management plan that we have in place in the natural approach books.
    If anyone wants the Bite Size Book of Classroom Management, here’s a link to a free download. It is not a carbon copy of what we have in the natural approach books, as it includes ideas not mentioned in those bigger books:
    I include an initial response to this situation in the next comment field. Please don’t be shy in weighing in, esp. on these discussions about classroom management. August is the month for such discussions, or not at all as the teacher who fails to win the battles now will pay for it all year, I am sorry to say but I have been there too many times not to make it into a big deal here.

  2. It’s too bad it’s Sunday nite because we need to get this solved right away. Oh well. But if it ‘s a seventh period class tomorrow maybe we can figure something out right away.
    My first thought is to get out your hammer. Like not do OWI again. If they mock it don’t give it to them. Give them worksheets. Don’t threaten them with worksheets – have them ready and DEPLOY THEM.
    As the cool OWI images keep piling up in the other class’s galleries, that 7th pd. class will see nothing in their gallery section and so they will want to do more OWIs and you will tell them that they blew it and the DO NOT give them another change for a few months.
    An empty gallery under “Pd. 7” is a big embarrassment to everyone in the class. Then when they complain about not being represented in the gallery you tell them that they can’t handle the privilege, You can also show them the videotape. (Whenever there is a problem in class the Hub B Videographer actually tapes the class, for proof.)
    You can even do an in-depth review of the videotape in slow motion of the bad class. Kids don’t like to be publicly embarrassed and all you are doing is showing them their own behavior. Then you have a kind of visual response for them as to why you have decided to deny them the OWI instruction and give them worksheets instead.
    This is really this is a complex knot to unravel and this is just one suggestion. We don’t know what the micro dynamics are in the class. My hunch is that it’s the hidden work of one or two ringleaders/aggressors who are severely testing you to find out who will be in control of the class this year. It’s completely your decision.

  3. I agree Teacher Above should NOT do OWI for several weeks, not even do small talk or card talk. Should not say anything about it, don’t scold. Should wait until they ask, and with a calm smile give a BRIEF matter of fact explanation: it’s not a punishment, it’s just that this class cannot handle the level of responsibility it takes to do the other kind of work. Do not cave in to the chorus of voices saying ‘we’ll be good, give us another chance, please’. Just nod your head and proceed with the worksheet program or grammar program.
    Also, if Teacher Above hasn’t already done so, she should them immediate feedback on the ISR rubric. Strict feedback! Those grades should be VERY low for the Funny Bunnies, and low for everyone else that condoned the rudeness and negativity of the leaders. Not one student should get a good grade–in my opinion.
    As for showing a video, if Teacher Above does seat work there won’t be one to show for a while.

  4. One more thing, give assessments to match the seat work they do. Give them the following day, make them difficult, have a rubric so as to show it is standards based and cover your butt.

  5. One thing that I am doing this year is to start with Matava Scripts, not with OWI or Invisibles. I find that the more passive listening to a story that is already created (having students supply details though) is better for the beginning of the year.
    I found last year that the OWI and Invisibles should be pushed back later in the year because it is just SOOO interesting. I am trying not to “give away the store” too early in the year. (No offense to Anne if you are reading this- I do believe your scripts are interesting- it’s just that the OWI and Invisibles are like a whole different level of interesting that no CI technique- TPRS or not can even come close to).
    I am trying to be Sean Lawler this semester:
    Notice in Sean’s video how you can always tell the teachers that were trained in Ben’s materials. Grant Boulanger comes to mind as well…..I can tell right away that he was trained heavily by Ben’s materials. There’s a certain calmness and grace to it that the other TPRS/CI presenters lack. It’s about being in the moment and not trying to be a clown or an entertainer.

  6. Clarification: I don’t believe OWI and Invisibles to be merely a CI technique, it’s more than that, BUT it is one way of providing NT- just like story-listening is another.
    My current position is that TPRS is beneficial to students (as long as messages are being understood acquisition is happening) but it can be a constraint on student interest if we are forcing reps & the complete transparency can be a denial of I + 1. Therefore I have been telling new CI teachers to jump right into the Invisibles.

  7. The OWI requires management first. I would not try and rush into an activity without having the management down first. It is important to “read”the energy of the room. This is where other CI activities can be spliced in instead.

  8. Card Talk is a big first week hammer. They think I’m talking about them and really I’m keeping things so slow and simple because Rule #2 needs to be referred to at least 50 times in each class for the first week. That’s the trick w Card Talk. It is a classroom management tool but it looks like a teaching activity.

    1. That is one of the things I realize now in my 4th year. We do things that are comfortable like card talk, predictable… and (dare i say) even including circling to focus on the management piece. We get on an observation alert and only let our guard down slightly when EVERYONE is engaged and quiet. This year, I use a lot of “Let’s try that again” with weak responses, bad posture, side conversation etc… any excuse for these first weeks.
      That is not to say that students are not acquiring language. I had a very chatty French 1 class that is off the charts with recognizing and understanding this year in French 2. They are acquiring subconsciously but for sanity and our careers we make sure that the behavior and management is there.
      And yet despite our efforts, as the year goes on structures,routines and consistently will get looser.

    1. My principal is new this year and who knows how it will go. My old one looked at two things 1) How many students can we say are engaged by observation? 2)Are we checking for understanding and getting that data from all students? 3)of the students who did not look engaged, what can we say about their comprehension and learning?
      Well, his style was really in line with how I ran my class. So instead of looking at how “we mess up” or how students are “not focused”. We look at the evidence of learning or in our case acquisition.
      However, I wonder what vision you have for management. I have been blessed with having to allow students to be kids again. Some just need re-direction because they are WAY too engaged with an OWI or Matava script story… so they blurt out suggestions trying to one-up each other. Reminds me of the Pringle Man video when you commented on them speaking English. I have not developed a tough skin for hard school.

  9. Another thing that we can’t overlook is brain breaks. I noticed that when I do brain breaks every 15-20 minutes there are less behavior issues.
    If you search for Anabelle Allen “La maestra loca” on Youtube, she has a ton of brain breaks. Also on CI Liftoff there is a 9 hour workshop with brain breaks.
    It’s totally worth it. Brain breaks are something that I have never done consistently in the past which I am trying to learn for this year.
    Here is one I did today:
    Since I have Spanish 1 I told the kids that they can say “Yo quiero—then a word in Spanish” or
    “Yo quiero—-then a brand name” but no English.
    I did 1.5 minutes with one partner and 1.5 with the other.

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