Welcome to Language Latte: a conversation about teaching world languages. This is Becky Morales from Kid World Citizen, and I am your host. We are talking about classroom management, strategies and techniques to keep our classroom running smoothly. Treat yourself to a latte, and settle in, so we can start our chat!
In every episode of the Language Latte podcast, I examine issues that world language teachers face when trying to help our students achieve proficiency.
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World language teachers at the elementary level are often in the unique circumstance of teaching the entire school, with just a limited time each week. World language teachers at all levels face the challenge of teaching and building community and managing their classes in a language that the students don’t all understand yet.
Teaching world languages is complex. We have to “win our students’ hearts while getting inside their heads.” Research suggests that teachers who develop enhanced relationships with their students experience fewer classroom behavior problems while benefiting from better academic performance. The key is to engage students through heightened personal interactions while simultaneously managing classroom climate and instruction. And like I mentioned before, this can be stymied by our limited time with students, and the added obstacle of the target language.
BUT it can be done. We need to consider the connection between classroom management, and relationship building. I have another podcast coming up this winter all about relationship building, but I think it’s necessary to mention it here too. One of the keys to effective classroom management most definitely is the development of a quality relationship between the teacher and the students. In fact, Marzano, Marzano, and Pickering report that these high quality relationships lead to 31% less discipline problems and rule violations.
Classroom management begins long before the students come into the classroom. Effective teachers plan their routines and expectations, they know the tasks they will need to implement and do, and effective teachers develop systems for monitoring behavior.
Studies show that there are multiple factors which influence classroom management. Even something like, the physical arrangement of the classroom- crowding can have a negative impact on behavior. When children have more space, they increase positive interactions with peers and teachers.
The structure of the classroom environment is important. In general, classrooms with more structure and explicitly defined routines have been shown to promote more appropriate academic and social behaviors, students exhibit greater task involvement, there are friendlier peer interactions, and we see more attentive behavior.
In classrooms where teachers are actively supervising, interacting with the students, and providing positive reinforcement for the behavior that is consistent with the expectations- in these classrooms, we see more active engagement of students. So it’s better for everyone when students are not just sitting and listening to the teacher, but we work to increase students’ opportunities to respond either individually, with choral responding, with response cards- like white boards where they all write down their answer and then show the teacher. Involving students and engaging them.
Classrooms should have procedures designed to increase appropriate behavior and decrease inappropriate behavior. There are many ways to incorporate this: First, by establishing expectations, and reiterating them frequently. We can identify a small number of rules like the “Be Safe, Be Responsible, Be Respectful” sign I have in my room. Use brief and specific language with the students. “Great listening.” “Please sit down.” Finally, some teachers have found success in what researchers call “token economies”- this is when students earn tokens, points, poker chips, contingent upon desired behavior that can often be cashed in for a back-up reinforcer like a no homework pass, or silly things like wearing slippers to school, or sitting with the class mascot.
Finally, I want to touch on The Responsive Classroom. Our guest today mentions that her school uses the program with much success. I am including a link in the shownotes to their web site, because they have a lot of information about their core beliefs, guiding principles, and specific practices and strategies. The main idea is that students can learn best when classes build up their academic and social-emotional competencies. The academic competencies include an academic mindset, perseverance, learning strategies, and academic behaviors. Their social-emotional competencies include: cooperation, assertiveness, responsibility, empathy, and self-control. Check out their web site for supporting information!
Interview with Julie Speno: Classroom Management
And now, I’d love to introduce Julie Speno. Our interview is a little longer than normal, but we had so much to talk about!
Julie Speno is a K-4 Spanish Teacher in Maine, in her 25th year teaching languages. From studying in Russia, to teaching ESL, and then Russian, she eventually started an elementary Spanish program. She has given almost 250 hours of presentations and workshops on teaching languages in elementary school, including being selected to give the Keynote at the NNELL Summer Institute in July, 2018, has served as the Maine NNELL Representative, and is currently the FLES Representative for the Foreign Language Association of Maine as well as member of the Twitter Chat Teams for both #earlylang chat for NNELL and #charlaele1, conducted entirely in Spanish. Julie served as the Chair of the Board at a non profit language school for 5 years, a school where she also taught Russian for 15+ years. She is also the creator and illustrator of el Mundo de Pepita, Resources for Teaching Languages to Children, a combination of her two passions, languages and art!
1) Tell us about yourself!
Julie’s first teaching experience started when she was studying in Moscow as part of her major in Russian, and took on two ESL classes for adults. This was certainly trial by fire as there was no curriculum, textbooks, guide, or lessons…just go in and talk with the students as a native speaker. This experience actually became an important ingredient in the development of Julie’s philosophy of teaching languages, reinforcing the importance of conversational interaction in class as a norm. Upon returning to the US, she continued to teach ESL, moving to Maine in 1995, where she began teaching Russian to children and after a year, also to adults. In 1998 she was hired to start the elementary Spanish program.
2) Today we are talking about classroom management. Many people would argue that classroom management is more difficult for world languages. Do you agree? Why?
3) Students crave consistency and predictability. How important is routine in classroom management?
4) How does your relationship with the classroom teacher relate to the way your class is managed?
5) I have many listeners who are either new teachers, or they’ve just been moved to a new age level. What are your favorite tips for classroom management, especially for these teachers who are still adjusting?
6) Is there anything that you’ve tried in your classroom, or you’ve seen done in other classrooms, that has the opposite effect, and just doesn’t work to manage the kids?
7) Where can our listeners find you, if they want to learn more?
Additional Resources and Works Cited
Beaty-O’Ferrall, Mary Ellen. Green, Alan. Hanna, Fred. (2010). “Classroom Management Strategies for Difficult Students: Promoting Change through Relationships.” Middle School Journal (J1), v41 n4 p4-11 Mar 2010
Elliot, Stephen N. (1995). The Responsive Classroom Approach: Its Effectiveness and Acceptability. The Center for Systemic Educational Change. District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington DC.
Marzano, R. J. Marzano, J.S. Pickering, D.J. (2003). Classroom Management that Works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Simenson, Brandi. (2008). “Evidence-based Practices in Classroom Management: Considerations for Research to Practice.” Education and Treatment of Children. Vol 31, no. 3, p 351-380.
Julie had so many ideas!! Tweet me @kidworldcitizen if you have any other classroom management tips.
If you enjoyed this episode, please share it with your friends and colleagues! Also, I love reading the reviews at the itunes store. Every time we get a review, Language Latte will come up higher in the search for more teachers. Finally, if you have more questions, or if you have great ideas that work in the classroom, we talk about language teaching 24/7, in our Language Latte facebook group.
I love to chat about questions or hear feedback you have about this episode, and to gather your ideas for future shows. Tell us what you’re doing in your language classroom!
To never miss an episode, subscribe on itunes, or wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts. Language Latte is made possible by OneWorldTrek.org: language and cultural immersion travel for teachers in Mexico. It was so nice to meet you all. I look forward to chatting next time, and hopefully collaborating in the future! Until then, ciao!