Lead Pipes 1

If a person approaches me with a lead pipe and starts to use it on me I would probably want to discuss it with him in a calm and rationale manner. If it were done in front of others, people I work with, I would probably ask the person to meet me later to talk about it. It would just be so embarrassing to be beaten over the head with a lead pipe in front of other people.

One thing that I could do during the attack would be to tell the person how very rude I think it is to attack others with lead pipes, especially if it were done in front of other people. I would definitely tell the attacker that they shouldn’t do it. If the person were young, I definitely would call their parents. I might even threaten to bring in the police later, if the person refused to be nice and put the lead pipe down.

Here are the above paragraphs with the words “lead pipe” removed and “rude words” inserted:

If a person approaches me with rude words and starts to use them on me I would probably want to discuss it with him in a calm and rationale manner. If it were done in front of others, people I work with, I would probably ask the person to meet me later to talk about it. It would just be so embarrassing to be beaten over the head with rude words in front of other people.

One thing that I could do during the attack would be to tell the person how very rude I think it is to attack others with rude words, especially  if it were done in front of other people. I would definitely tell the attacker that they shouldn’t do it. If the person were young, I definitely would call their parents. I might even threaten to bring in the police later, if the person refused to be nice and put the rude words down.

Since words can indeed be a form of blunt force in a classroom, I would suggest that perhaps my version of the Emergency Emotional Readiness Plan that we are trying to create here would in fact be to act a little more forcefully and quickly than in the above image. I don’t think we would even be having this discussion in this blog space if we realized the awesome power of words to hurt people, and if we realized how important it is to resist such verbal attacks from students with aggressive force each time they happen. What would such a version of a possible EERP – the Lead Pipe version – entail?

The first step for me, as I have suggested here earlier, would be to simply acknowlege the attack. I would want everyone to know that it happened. Then, since we work with children, I would take out my cell phone, in which I would have the names and numbers of the parents of about ten of my students, those who have shown me that they can’t control what they say in my classroom, and I would call the parent then and there from the classroom, in front of the class.

Ideally, as a third step, I would then remove the child from the class and send it to the principal’s office for further action, so that the principal acts as my ally, instead of what they have become with most teachers today, their enemies. Since most principals (the police) think it is the job of the teacher to enforce the law in the classroom (the citizen as police officer), it is no longer possible, in most schools, to get this kind of support in the moment of the attack.

I would say that it is this failure, this break, in the chain of command, that is the key factor in why schools have become so severely dysfunctional – the actual real police and building security are only there for recognizable offenses (attacks with real lead pipes in schools – this is what we have become), whereas the building supervisors cannot address every single brutal attack by a student because said attacks are “only” made with words).

This is the part of this discussion that, quite frankly, amazes me. Except for Laurie and Jody and a few others, I think that many who read this blog haven’t yet figured out the need to act and act firmly in every instance of attack. I don’t even think that some of us even know how to recognize when we are being attacked! That kind of blows my mind.

Now, if there is such a person on the administrative staff who could help me, a person with power who would be willing to act within hours (certainly before the school day ended) to swiftly address the verbal abuse/bullying by the student, then I would welcome that and use it as a third step in my EERP approach. But that “ain’t gonna happen” with most of us, so let’s skip that third intervention as a possibility and consider what we would do after the phone call to the parent.

If anyone has any suggestions to fill in concrete action step 3 below, pls. write it in a comment field below. Refer to the list provided in the blog post below this one.

Concrete Action Step 1: sit and let the gorilla (the offending words) be acknowledged by all in the room.
Concrete Action Step 2: call a parent then and there to set up a physical meeting with the offending child present that day, and refuse to put it off to another day.
Concrete Action Step 3:



18 thoughts on “Lead Pipes 1”

  1. Just thinking aloud here:

    possible 4th step after the kid is removed from the class to the back of the room to work on the grammar packet: a class discussion about what just happened, with the offending kid probably not allowed to speak. So the kid who mispoke is now out of the group, a parent has been called, the group is aware of what happened (all those things show that there will be the same reaction each time an inappropriate comment is made), and now the group is discussing it in terms of the 2010 or 2012 rules both sets of which are posted on the walls for some metacognitive discussion in this moment when it is most needed. The teacher would have to own up to whatever they did wrong in encouraging the rude comment in terms of the new “teacher rules” poster (esp. re not enforcing the no English rule). Here is that poster so that three posters would be involved in the discussion:

    Teacher Rules
    1. Stay in L2
    2. SLOW Circling
    3. Stay in bounds
    4. Point and Pause
    5. Eye contact shows learning
    6. Compelling din in reading & stories

    The 2010 Classroom Rules

    Metacognition Poster 2012

    1. A person reading this might think this is an overeaction to ANY little comment made in class. I disagree. It is our undereaction to this type of thing that has gotten us into this mess. A consistently strong reaction like the above, or whatever the group comes up with here, will go a long way to ensuring that we never again have to deal with the kind of insanity that has reared its ugly head in so many of our classrooms on so many occasions in the past. It’s like building a dam before the water flows into the town, not after.

  2. Calling the parent in the moment of the offense is, to me, important. It can be quite swift and usually will involve a voice mail anyway. Teacher just says, “Mr./Mrs. X I will call you after school so that we can set up a time to discuss something that happened in class today involving your child so that we all can understand how I want my classroom to function this year. Thank you and please look for my call around 3:30 today.” This call should be audible to all in the room.

  3. “They mean business.” That Fred Jones generalization, about teachers who have smooth running classrooms, sticks with me when I think about what we’re figuring out. Ben, you’re pushing us to mean business, in whatever process we each end up using in out classrooms.

    The accurate perception, the phone call home, the instant response…they all give that message to the students that we mean business.

    1. yeah the thing is that I just can’t do the generalized response anymore that so many folks like Fred Jones talk about. I just want a key to put into a machine and turn it and then the result is there with the kid, same key, same result, different kids. They all have so much to learn and nobody is stopping teaching to do it long enought with the results we see. I know one person who with a buddy set about consciously to screw up teachers in the first month of class when he was in high school. These kids can be very very dark and we act like it’s all about stories and the like. It isn’t.

  4. Thanks for this Ben. A lot of this speaks strongly to me. I had a bad day last Monday with my 41-person freshmen class. There are about 6 chronic offenders in this class, mainly just trying to constantly undermine the mechanics of the class – speaking English to their neighbor, asking to leave class at inappropriate times, freaking out and making a scene about seeing a bug or something ridiculous like that. The flow of CI was constantly interrupted so that it was taking twice the time to do what we normally do in our PQA and storytelling. I was so frustrated, especially seeing the looks of the other 35 students who were being so patient, quiet and ready to learn. So I kept all these chief offenders after class for our 20 min. tutorial time and excused everyone else and then called all their parents right then. They acted totally put out and disgruntled about having “their” time taken away. I had good conversations with almost all the parents I called, either right then or from returned calls later. I also got together some grammar / busywork to do for the next class day for offenders to do instead of be allowed to participate in the general class.

    And here’s a new thing I thought I would try: I checked with the other teachers in my wing to see if I could send a single student to them with this busywork if I needed to and they said yes. I don’t want to burden other teachers, but my thinking is I would only have to do it once or twice to get the point across, since by incurring this special busywork assignment they would have more work to do and I would keep them for the extra 20 min. on top of it too. Plus they would be removed from my class (where their friends are) and still be under supervision of a teacher (if I send them outside my class they will just get on their phone and text or something.) No one has had to do this yet. I’m curious if anyone else has done similar things or if anyone sees any flaws in this plan. Maybe I should probably just send them down to the Guidance office, but I thought is some ways that could be like letting them off from doing the work they are supposed to do in my class. I cast the rationale for what the special busywork assignment as: “Since you are not willing to cooperate with the rest of us and be a part of the conversation, you will translate the stories we are creating in here independently, in a place where you won’t derail our work. Whatever you can’t finish, you will be required to finish at home and I will call your parents about it and hold you during tutorial.”

    We had a much better class on the following Wednesday and Friday (I have a block schedule). But I can tell already this week I need to be vigilant and do a reminder of expectations for tomorrow’s class, and then bust the first offender.

  5. This is very strong. Five observations:

    1. …bust the first offender…

    yes this is key. you put the key in the machine and turn it with each kid and the result is the same. you are like a machine yourself in that the first kid to “see the bug” (i.e. attempt to wrest control of 41 people away from you by drawing attention to his sorry ass self) is just so outed and busted that they actually look stupid in front of their classmates. you are literally winning an invisible battle that I am convinced most teachers don’t know is even happening bc they are so busy being nice and smart and, dare I say it, weak. do we really think that they are in not in battle for the room? so, yes, bust every one. in the same way. nobody gets to claim it is personal against them. in the plan that I suggested for myself here yesterday, I will react to very slight issues as if they are big issues. i’m a machine and when the line is crossed even by a tippy toe I stop teaching. why didn’t I do this 35 years ago is the question I am asking myself now.

    2. yes somebody in our group has indeed sent kids to other willing colleagues for the grammar packets and busywork. this is just so strong. can’t wait to bring it to my team. it’s going to revolutionize an already strong department. i think that in many schools there is distrust among colleagues, a lot of which is due to differences of ideas about how to teach. we alienate people in embracing Krashen. they like to take our love of using comprehensible input personally and then there we are, unable to help each other out with these difficult kids bc of enmity between ourselves. how stupid. how lucky I am to work in an all TPRS/CI school in an all TPRS/CI district under the leadership of an all TPRS/CI WL coordinator. love it. i also love writing with no caps to start sentences. it’s pretty cool and faster too bc I don’t have to push that tarnation shift key all the time.

    3, … I had good conversations with almost all the parents I called…

    all I can say on that is congrats. you did it and it worked. most teachers don’t actually make the call. that is a dumb move.

    4. I really like the idea of them translating stories. all you have to do is pull out an old story from Word, print it, hand it to them with a dictionary and then you don’t have to pull a grammar packet together. is that what you do? print a story and hand them a dictionary – which they will need bc they only pay attention at about 35%. of course dictionaries don’t work. that’t the point. go give them as little academic consideration as they give you in class. but even with that they learn more than the grammar packets since we know finally that teaching grammar is totally useless in spite of the mountain of idiots out there still teaching that way. Feel of the truth of that, Rob Roy.

    5. i’m sure that it was a pain in the butt to be so proactive with those six but look at the results. you have given us in the group a lot to work with here and I will now go and add to the four things I started the day out with yesterday and feel even better about coming up with a workable EERP for me and knowing that it is not some vague shit by some expert. i will go update the EERP, then read what you wrote again to make sure I didn’t miss anything and, in this way, get closer to my goal of not being a wuss in front of my students who want to learn. love this stuff. great job.

    1. Sending kids to neighbors works well for us too. The kids lose their audience, and that’s what they’re counting on.

      I love the idea of printing out stories for them to translate. That’s what I’ve started giving to our ISS kids (in-school-suspension). Most often, the kids don’t do the work there, which always makes me mad if I’ve spent time putting a packet together.

      It could be a packet you make just once every couple of weeks if there are storms going on, with a couple of different levels in it.

      1. I have, also, found sending “perps” to other classes to work is a good strategy. They are supervised by a trusted peer and are not disrupting my class. If they dare to disrupt the new class (has never happened), they would have to deal with two teachers and the admin. Most are smarter than that or truly do need higher-level attention.

        The ultimate in this strategy is to send them to a class of students younger than they are or much older–the height of discomfort for them. Sometimes, if they are in a class with other peers, it doesn’t work as well. It becomes a badge of honor instead.

      2. Thanks guys for the affirmation here on sending kids out to a peer. And I know the discussion has been moving on from here, but I had written this and was having trouble posting it, but still wanted to get a few of these thoughts out there.

        Ben had asked if I hand out the stories I’ve already made in Word, and that is correct. I keep a document of all the key structures and stories for each class that we use for when we tell stories, PQA and do choral readings. I just print this out and put it in a file on my desk, along with a file of notebook paper. I hand these to the kids and tell them to grab a dictionary.

        Plus the bigger thing for me here is that this sort of an activity is a RATIONAL and REASONABLE thing for them to do as a consequence for not being “able” to be mature in class. I think I read in Rafe Esquith’s book, “Teach Like your Hair’s on Fire” a long time ago that punishments or consequences that are totally unrelated to the offense just discredit us as teachers. An example would be, if a kid left trash on the floor, a reasonable consequence would be for them to spend some time during lunch cleaning up trash in the room. For my situation, the kids are not doing their responsibility paying attention to what EVERYBODY ELSE is, so it’s only just and reasonable that they should still be accountable for doing this, but in an “accommodated” setting. To give them a grammar packet, I think is harder to rationalize to the kid in my opinion, and it’s more work for me. This is also why I don’t assign lots of detentions. I think it’s harder to give them out as a reasonable consequence and then I have to follow up on whether the kids are serving them, extra time for me and a big pain in the rear. The punishments that are built into sending the kids out to translate in another class aren’t so much the translation assignments themselves, but the fact that they are being sent away from their audience, they have to do more work, and they will get the phone call home.

  6. …if they dare to disrupt the new class (has never happened), they would have to deal with two teachers and the admin….

    This is powerful. Three strong adult figures in the building are thus active instead of one. I say three because, when the second teacher gets involved, the administration finds it a lot less easy to be dismissive of the situation. If the parents are there (not in my building but some schools have them), we have four adult forces involved. Power in numbers against bullies. I like it. The it takes a village thing. We no longer need fight alone. My colleague with glaucoma has been fighting alone for over 25 years as the disease slowly worsens. I have come to see that it has been a cruelty beyond description, but nobody knew about it, because he never shared it before, and it is still a shocking thought that the kids were anything but deferential and helpful to him over all those years. Our country is getting more cruel, and we can stop that by gaining in mental health.

    The second point Jody makes is going to be key and must become part of the protocol. We can’t forget it and we can’t just send the kid to peers. I will put it into the draft.

  7. One day several years ago I had come to the end of my rope with a very chatty and disrespectful class. I used to be a screamer and had tried that all year. Finally, one day, I asked in a very frustrated and “at the end of my rope tone” the following questions: “Why do you guys talk constantly and rudely interrupt my class?” One students replied most matter of factly “because we can”

    He was right, you know. There had never been any “real’ consequences for them. They were not given a reason to change their behavior. The more I yelled the more they lost respect for me……

    That incident really got me thinking and motivated me to find new strategies and a better way to function in the classroom….

    1. Also skip I have always admired your honesty in all of this. Few people would say what you shared about the kid who said, “…because we can….” That is huge. This is the kind of honesty I pray for in our group, because only then can we get done what we have to do. You ride into battle, not away from it. You are the Chevalier de l’Est. There are now three chevaliers.

  8. And skip this allows me to make the biggest point of all about EERP – that srategies are bullshit. What does that word mean, strategies? A strategy is a military term for a plan that may or may not work if implemented. With EERP, I don’t want a strategy, I want a guaranteed hammer blow that will hit its mark every time. Therefore, if no more comments/suggested are made to suggest changes to EERP, then I will post them now and we can say that we are at the end of this process, which took about as many days as I thought it would. I am not trying to say that others should use the EERP hammer – that kind of thing has never been my purpose here over the years. I learn by writing and am very happy and grateful for this dicussion. I feel that I have a plan that will actually work for me next year re discipline. It just feels different bc it is a MACHINE, and machines don’t feel fear.

  9. Ben said:

    …i’m sure that it was a pain in the butt to be so proactive with those six but look at the results….

    Not really. I actually enjoyed seeing justice served for the offenders and dismissing all the others who were doing their job to go on their merry way while the others had to stay. It feels good when justice is served.

  10. Of course I used the wrong word…. I agree with your opinion on strategies…

    What I was referring to was the total paradigm shift to TCI and ALL that it encompasses…. It all started in October 2005 when I attended Alice Yate’s Blaine Ray workshop….. That six and a half year journey has totally revolutionized every aspect of my teaching. More importantly, however, is the affect it has had on my students.

    Thanks Ben…

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