The Eyes Have It in jGR

Unbelievable. We think that we can communicate a language to another person but not really look into their eyes. We teach the class and there is this king of group mind fuck that we don’t have to look at each other and we can still learn the language.

That is impossible. I believe that eyes were meant to look into as well as out of. So our instruction can only work if we look in and see that the child understands or not. If this is not an argument for honestly using jGR as a hammer, then I don’t know what is.

The fact is that someone has to show up as an adult and tell a child who sits in non-communicative fashion in class that she is not performing to standards.

Are we all liars? Are we all that afraid? Now that we have a tool to connect classroom interaction to standards, what are we waiting for?

The eyes tell all in a language class. Grade them fricking accordingly.



10 thoughts on “The Eyes Have It in jGR”

  1. I agree with you. But can you please detail what that “understanding look” looks like? I can spot a “mouth-breather” because they are so obvious. Some kids, though, can pretend to be listening by looking but they are in their own worlds….but what does that look like. This is where I am having a hard time.

    Be honest with me: Am I really that lame and am I making this a bigger deal than it is?

    1. Ah, I know exactly what you mean!!! I usually ask these particular kids “what did I just say” first. Or ask them a question with an interrogative. I’ve asked my students a few time what stops them from doing the “I don’t understand” signal, and these are some of the reasons:
      1)they didn’t want to stop my “flow”
      2) It was only one or two words that they were able to figure out by the context or didn’t think it was important.
      3) They were a little embarrassed to show they didn’t understand when it seemed like everyone else was understanding

  2. Jen, I think this is a huge deal. It is essential to our success in accurately assessing our students on the rubric. I think that we all know when a student is faking it, but often our attention is not there. This is why I spoke so much last year about simplifying our busywork, in and out of class. If we are focused on anything but our students, we will miss these subtle but very accurate indicators which students continuously transmit non-verbally. If we are asking them to show up fully, then so do we. If something in the room is preventing that (textbook, worksheet, learning goal written on a card, piece of technology, turning around all the time to write way too many words on the board, etc.), get rid of it. If we are allowing a student or a few students to take our attention away from noticing what ALL of our students are telling us with their eyes and body language, deal with them, move them to the back. We cannot afford to lose our focus, because that is precisely when things break down, that is when the students take control of the REAL communication happening in the room. Forget target structures, forget stories. If you have to, pick three words they already know, circle them, and stop thinking about anything but the students.

  3. John,

    This is wonderful. Thank you. I DO feel my constant worrying makes me lose focus. I’m worried about assessment and worried about proving myself to colleagues. I’m worried about dealing with parents, etc. I wish, oh how I wish, I could just see someone in action while IN THEIR CLASSROOM and then sit at a conference table and discuss. This is the closest I can get.

    1. Jen I just got some video of my 3/4 class in their first year of stories (I brought my camera in today). I’ll try to edit it this weekend and put it up here asap. It is of PQA and a story but we didn’t get to Word Chunking. Editing is slow so I’ll do my best. We can discuss it here if you want.

  4. What John said.

    One thing is that in interpersonal communication between human beings there is always a need for clarification. That is why jen put into jGR the ‘uses stop sign” – bc it is a big indicator of whether they are actually involved or not. I mean, it is a foreign language to them! So this is like a very big point right here –

    The fact is that if they are not constantly seeking clarification with a visible stop sign, then they are in there for the credit and they can have the credit! No problem! They can have a D on the ACTFL grade.

    Why? Precisely because they are not willing to give you control of the classroom, control of their learning. They have just spend YEARS resisting education, and now, when faced with something real, they naturally resist. But we must keep on keeping on with the 2’s until they GET IT. This last point as per John’s key point here:

    …that is when the students take control of the REAL communication happening in the room….

    We only think we are in control of our classrooms when we fail to use jGR honestly. That is what students are – masters of passive aggression. They are masters!

    So we put ourselves out there and give them the 2 and feel the burn of talking to the parent bc we are the professionals. They aren’t and neither are their mammas. And we have the national standards on our sides. What the hell are they going to say to that?

    Maybe I can get some video from some of my classes and we can maybe even talk about it on the phone. We should get John in on maybe a Skype call on this. I will try to do this in the next few weeks specifically for you Jen so we can look at it in the privacy of the community here . Because I see it working. I see it working!

    You are so honest Jen. You say unique stuff. Like about wanting the approval and being afraid. It is precisely this honesty that will free you of the very things associated with the Fear.

    And some day I will try to convince you that I have been, until this newly found confidence I have from the Power Trio Combination of jGR, Three and Done, and the Jobs for Kids, more scared than you are, more scared than anybody.

  5. Well with video I have always done it for me, but if we can learn from it I’ll put it out there, even if it is a shitty class. The video is 25 minutes of kind of a sped up version of PQA and a story – The Tent Story by Anne Matava. But we can learn from it.

    By the way what you said here:

    …I wish I could just see someone in action while IN THEIR CLASSROOM and then sit at a conference table and discuss….

    This is exactly Diana’s vision for DPS training of teachers in this method. She calls them Learning Labs. They occur all over the district where about ten new people come to, say, my school, meet with me for an hour, go in and we do a class, and then process for an hour about what they saw. Diana pays for the subs! Thank you, Bill Gates!

  6. The learning labs at the IFLT conference were BY FAR the most helpful workshops I attended. And then reflecting on them with colleagues help me draw out all the learning.
    Any one out there work with Asperger’s kids? I have this one kid that WILL NOT LOOK at me while I’m teaching, even though I’m constantly in his face saying “mira,” which I probably shouldn’t be doing. He’s doing well on the comprehension quizzes though, but can’t really write and didn’t understand anything in a story I had written up from a previous class. I know this is such an exception, but it’s always the exceptions I think about the most and want to help the most.

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