A coaching client asks:
- How to handle a kid wanting to go to the bathroom/nurse to avoid a game or interactive activity in class?
- FVR- How do you manage to keep the books organized so that kids can find their books the next time they go to read them?
- How do you encourage kids to become independent learners (not overly reliant on teacher?)
- How do you handle CI class with 50% heritage learners? (I have read Mike Peto’s book and am trying to get a proposal draft for a HL class but it does not solve the situation in the meantime.)
- Do you have kids that ask to go to the bathroom during FVR? Do you let them go?
Everybody deals with these issues at one time or another. Here are some short answers to her very common questions. These are stop-gap answers. She and I are dealing with these more fully in our regular professional coaching sessions.
1. How to handle a kid wanting to go to the bathroom/nurse to avoid a game or interactive activity in class?
Do not let them go. Tell them they can go later. Give them a vested interest in cooperating with you and your agenda. What do students gain by cooperating and participating? See chapter 20 and 21 of Fred Jones’ Tools for Teaching.
2. FVR- How do you manage to keep the books organized so that kids can find their books the next time they go to read them?
Assign a student the classroom job of librarian in every class, whose job is to straighten up the book for 2 minutes after FVR time, or…
You may also be able to get a junior or senior to be your student aide. Some schools allow 11th and 12th graders to do that for the valuable life experience. Some of my best helpers ever were my students that signed up for this. It’s a big help to both teacher and student.
3. How do you encourage kids to become independent learners (not overly reliant on the teacher?)
Those types of kids are called “helpless hand wavers” by Fred Jones. There are a lot of them. Study chapter 5 in the Fred Jones book Tools for Teaching. Read it over and over. That is what worked for me.
One of the best ways to do this during FVR is to model independent learning. Sit in front of the class and read while they are reading.
4. What about a CI class with 50% heritage learners? I have read Mike Peto’s book and am trying to get a proposal draft for a HL class but it does not solve the situation in the meantime.
That’s a tough one. Their own class is best, of course. They have very different needs. Ask the administrators if there is a class that teaches two totally different subjects at the same time, like combining Auto Mechanics and Choir, or Wood Shop and Roller Skating. And if not, why not?
It appears to non-language teachers that the needs of the students are the same because the class is taught in the target language. But, as you know, the English speaking kids need basic conversational language (BICS: Basic Interpersonal Communicative Skills). They need to acquire auditory language, everyday vocabulary, and the fundamental grammar of the language.
Heritage speakers already have all that down. They need to develop academic language (CALP: Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency). They also need to develop reading skills, confidence in reading, and a reading habit. These are very different.
Those two needs do not overlap much. It is like making 10th graders sit in a 1st grade class, or vice versa. Hey, they’re both speaking English, right? There’s really not that much difference between Dr. Seuss and Shakespeare, is there? I mean they both use letters and words, right? A skilled teacher should be able to teach both phonics and Romeo and Juliet to first graders and tenth graders at the same time, right?
I know you know this, I’m just giving you a bit of encouragement and ammunition to argue for a better program.
If you have a classroom library and the classroom space, have the heritage learners read part of the time and then come back together during activities and games. That has worked for me in similar circumstances.
5. Do you have kids that ask to go to the bathroom during FVR? Do you let them go?
Kids will test you, they always do, but don’t let them go during FVR. Warn them up front that FVR time is sacrosanct. FVR is where students will learn 80% of what they need to learn in your class. It is “Pareto Principle” time, 80/20 time: with just 20% of the total class time and effort, they will get 80% of the results. Everyone gets on a schedule for restroom use. Help them to adjust their restroom body clocks to a more appropriate time. If you let them go during FVR, you are training them to HAVE to go then. Warn them up front that no one can go, including you. They will predictably whine that their kidneys will burst, that it is not healthy, and even dangerous for them not to go, but they can wait 10 minutes. If you have to, tell them you have to go too, but you’re waiting. TMI?
Put this poster on all four walls of the classroom. That will help. It will help both students and teacher to focus.
It could be that they are choosing books that are not right for them. This poster on How to Choose a Book can help with that.
This Independent Reading Rubric can also help to keep kids focused. It can serve as a springboard for conversations about what reading looks like and feels like.
Asking, demanding, begging them to quit bugging you does not work. Again, give them a vested interest in cooperating with you and your agenda. See chapter 20 and 21 of Fred Jones’ Tools for Teaching.
This is what has worked for me.
For individualized professional coaching from Bryce or one of his trusted colleagues, click here. I can help struggling teachers because I’ve been one. We’ll get you through this.