An Old Post

This post was written last May. It reveals my frustration with rude kids. I thought of going to a “Consequences Chart.” But Bob Patrick rightly talked me out of it, for those who remember that. But, now reading this again from last May, I can see how it prefigured jGR:

The group decision to embrace the metacognition piece and use the rigor posters to foster discussion in each class so that kids reflect and verbalize their ideas on how they learn with us is an important thread from the year.

We created that entire concept of rigor, the rigor posters that Clarice did, the entire self-reflection piece to end the class, all to get kids to see that if they want to make real gains in listening, they need to listen with the intent to understand, and that if they want to make any real gains in reading, they need to read with the intent to understand.

These are such simple givens to us but often are not at all simple to them. So we can talk about bringing cheerfulness to our classrooms as a major player, and we can talk about self-respect for ourselves, etc. and those are great additions to our teaching, but we need things that are more clear and concrete to the kids.

The Sufi saint Inayat Kahn (no relation to Brigitte, I assume) has said that the best way to train children is by gently repeating the command. That may not be true in our case in CI classrooms. Our kids are so numb to rules.

Does that mean we can go ahead and get angry in those moments of almost palpable morudeness that almost shock us when they happen bc they are so over the top? Of course not. So do we bail to grammar worksheets? I won’t do that.

Then what do we do with those four kids who almost visibly try to take down the class? First, we realize that they are the reason we are floundering. They are almost singularly the cause of the problem – which is a lot less about us than we may want to think.

We must realize that the four little adolescents in the classroom who could care less about following the rules and whom we know will not respond to our new cheerfulness (not fake cheerfulness, by the way – don’t even try that) need something to force them to follow the Rules Chart.

Now this gets really interesting at this point. How can we actually make those four kids (honestly I just want to call them what they really are – four little shits) an offer that they can’t refuse, something much more powerful than a parent phone call (parents of shit kids are usually shits as well which is why those particular phone calls don’t work).

And the best answer to their shittiness lies in one of the rules, but not the ones I used to think were the most important, rule #1, “Listen with the Intent to Understand” and rule #4, “Sit up, Square up Shoulders, Clear Eyes”.

The one where we can hit them right in the teeth (that’s what they need) is a rule that I recently removed from the list!

By the way, that rules chart took me a full 10 years to create through trial and error, thinking about this stuff and losing sleep at night for over ten years. Over 100 rules have been tossed and these few are the only ones that remain, so they are strong.

So what is the rule that I am suggesting here (we cannot know if what I am saying here will work until we try this in the classroom) is the one that says “No Blurting/NoTalking Over”.

Can you feel the truth of that? Can you sense the potential in that bad boy of a rule that if we only enforce can change our lives in the classroom and therefore out of it? I can.

Here is what I will test now and as the school year winds down: when a kid says something out of turn, sneaking into the discussion one of those little comments designed by the kid to shred the conversation in L2, I can’t kick the kid out (can’t do that because too many kids do that in our classes now) but I can do something. What?

Well, if I have this right – that this little rule “No Blurting/NoTalking Over” is the hidden power tool that I have been looking for all these years.

What is it? It is a quiz grade aligned with the Three Modes. We know that the four kids who usually blurt out and talk over will have done so a second time. Those are our target. So most kids get a 10 for the day – often their second grade of the day after the regular quick quiz written by the super star on the CI for that day, and four get a zero.

It happens again the next day, and the next, and after just a few classes the kids grade is down to an F. We call the parents, explaining in detail how that happened and how concerned we are for their dear little Fauntleroys who now are failing our class.

We explain to the parents how the national and new state standards require that we grade language students in terms of the Three Modes of Communication and we explain about the 90% Use position statement of ACTFL, which their little shit of a child is preventing us from doing, thus affecting our job performance, and we make it clear that the child cannot afford in our classes to continue to get more than just that first warning on the rule of No Blurting/Talking Over.

I am going to try it. Everything we have so far, the Rules, my little lecture on cheerfulness above, phone calls, nothing works with those four kids who, let’s admit it here, are the real reason for all of our failures with CI and classroom discipline – just those four kids! – and we completely neutralize them, shut them up, whack them in the teeth, by simple writing their grade for the day in the grade book in the moment of the infraction to save time at the end of class), as they tumble rapidly to a failing grade as a result of having failed in the art of conversationand the Three Modes that are so absolutely necessary if our work with comprehension based instruction is to succeed.

I’ll try it, if anyone else wants to they can, and we can get back here and compare notes. I think it will be, for me, the best thing I have ever tried to keep those four shits from ruining my class. If it works, I will be very happy, because the one thing that has driven me crazy over all these years of doing CI is those kids making some comment in English right in the moment I am trying to get the beautiful Boeing 757 jetliner off the runway and into the air.

Are those kids, in the light of that image, dangerous? Hell yes they are! Are they pig kids, who need to be removed physically, as per that thread five months ago here? No.

Here we are addressing those minor pigs who float under the radar much better. We must hit them where they will actually feel it – in the gradebook.

This, to me, is the first practical and concrete and really strong response to those four blurter kids that I have ever thought of. Anyone want to go with me on this, I would appreciate the company.

We only have a few days left. Let’s test it and see. I’m hopeful that we could make a HUGE step forward with this strong move on the blurters, who, as I suggest above, in my view are somewhere in-between 99% and 100% of our true problems with classroom discipline.



4 thoughts on “An Old Post”

  1. What about kids that are blurting in Spanish? When I make a statement, the kids are to say the “phrase of the week”, things like “seriously?” And”how terrible”. Kids are remembering them from the week before and are spontaneously saying these where it accurately fits in conversation but they do it at times, when I’m trying to get the plane off the runway. Does it count?

  2. Dump the phrase of the week. It isn’t working for you. I am concerned, personally, that many of us are doing too many frill type things and not enough meat and potatoes teaching.

    It is best if we stay with the three steps. Otherwise, we end up being “eclectic” TPRS teachers, and that is not at good thing. It has created many wrong impressions in buildings and we ourselves, by failing to stay with the basics, have done a lot to turn others off to this work.

    Stay with what works and keep it simple – that is: PQA, stories and reading. Throw in some dictee but not too much, and lessen all the frill stuff that makes you crazy trying to remember to do it.

  3. …But I think I’ve made it sound like a serious issue across the board where it really is happening occasionnally in a few classes with the same kids AND most kids are saying it in the hallways when they don’t know I’m listening and we enjoy chooses as a class what we will say….. hmm…..

  4. Good and thank you for the clarification bc I was really freaking out over this. I thought it was across the board. Now I have written a long post and a shorter response below before just now learning that it is not across the board, as I thought. I might as well post those two responses here anyway. They address the topic of discipline and if they (thankfully) don’t address your situation they may at least help someone. Because the issue of The Fear is so big, so widespread. I wrote a long response to you early this morning, and I will paste the other shorter response I just wrote just now in my planning period below, so here it is:

    Jen would you say that these kids are confronting you all the time? How are you dealing with it? I claim that in my own experience they simply don’t hear the voice of reason. Requests for a certain behavior are met with deadened ears and hearts, and they think that they can bully you. This is my fourth comment on what you wrote yesterday and it has become my meditation when I am not actively involved in teaching or doing something else. The Fear seems to have gotten to you. Is it because you are overly involved with making the fireworks part of TPRS/CI work for you? You may want it to work too much. Could you back your jets down to R and D of a novel and plenty of dictation. October is not the time for intense teaching it is for slamming rude kids mouths’ shut. This is the time to make a strong response to the jerks who typically surface in our classrooms about this time of year (they often start to surface around September) How to respond to them? Clearly, they are bothering you. Do they see the effect on you of their obstinate rudeness? I would not let them see that! How to do that? Don’t talk to them about their behavior. Just write it down each time it happens. Have you tried Three and Done? It is a dispassionate response to bullies. You just write down the behavior, make it clear that it didn’t go unnoticed, whether it is cell phone (why collect a cell phone? Do you really want that drama in your life?). Just write down the offense and after three of them or three unexcused tardies or skipped classes you simply make the parent call and write them up and that is the “done” part of Three and Done. I just think that you are letting them see you sweat. Are you? I just cannot tell you how incredible it is that my classroom discipline is so much better than anything I have seen because of the Triple Power Combination of jGR, Three and Done, and Jobs for Kids (all are categories here). Let’s keep talking. Clearly you are not afraid of sharing your feelings with us, and I repeat a comment from yesterday – you may be one of the few talking about your fears but that doesn’t mean that many of us are not experiencing the same thing. My advice now, then, because I honestly feel that I may know Mr. Fear better than you simply because he visited me in my classroom every day for over thirty years until this year (he has vanished now because of the Triple Power Combination of jGR, Three and Done, and Jobs for Kids. Agh! I am sure I am not the only one pulling for you, but this thread and what you are going through now with those rude kids is very compelling. I want to get on a plane and walk into your classroom and throttle those kids.

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