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This is the second of a draft-quality (for now) series of posts about the Danielson evaluation tool and how the qualifiers and criteria can apply to a Comprehensible Input-focused classroom.
If you’re just stumbling onto this now, you can find Domain 1 here.
Okay! This one is probably the least difficult to make fit a CI class, because frankly a good environment is a good environment! There are certainly some things that happen somewhat typically (but not universally) in a TPRS or CI class that do contribute to a high score on this domain, but this is the one domain where there really is minimal need to find a way to spin what we do into the domain. There are definitely things we do that really can ROCK these critical attributes.
Component 2a: Creating and Environment of Respect and Rapport
-Classroom interactions between the teacher and students and among students are highly respectful, reflecting genuine warmth, caring, and sensitivity to students as individuals.
-Students exhibit respect for the teacher and contribute to high levels of civility among all members of the class.
-The net result is an environment where all students feel valued and are comfortable taking intellectual risks.
YES!! Alright, this one, totally not a disadvantage or even confusion if you’re a CI teacher. Frankly, steps toward this sort of environment often happen in any quality world language classroom. Because of the interpersonal communication nature of our classes, rapport often develops on its own. If you add in some get-to-know-you activities, even better. Many CI and TPRS teachers are familiar with Krashen’s theories and discussion of the affective filter. So a lot of us already spend a lot of time and energy creating supportive and comfortable environments. And if you can do something like PQA or the Special Person interviews that are so popular now, your class is all about learning about kids as individuals. Add in some classroom management techniques of your choice, and you’re set! Or at least as set as anyone can be.
Component 2b: Establishing a Culture for Learning
-The classroom is a cognitively busy place, characterized by a shared belief in the importance of learning.
-The teacher conveys high expectations for learning for all students and insists on hard work; students assume responsibility for high quality by initiating improvements, making revisions, adding detail, and/or assisting peers in their precise use of language.
THIS ONE…a little harder to unpack. “Cognitively busy”? Personally, I would think that receiving and comprehending messages in a new language would qualify as cognitively busy. Of course, an observer can’t see that. What would LOOK busy is having students receive a message and DO something with that. The more language modes that can be used, the better. Students hear a story. Then they draw pictures to show their comprehension. Then pictures are displayed and the teacher describes them while students try to identify which picture is being described. Afterward, students read a version of the story with some details changed and identify the differences. Then an assessment to rewrite the story. We’ve got interpretive listening, reading, writing, heck–make the picture identifying thing a partner activity and you can add some collaboration!
High expectations for all learners…insisting on hard work? Yeah, I have a bit of a problem with that wording, from a language acquisition standpoint. But think of hard work as focus/dedication to the task on hand and it’s less cringe-y. Expecting students to use as much of the target language as possible (without it being intimidating) is an example of high expectations. Giving students the chance to develop skills further and reassess shows that they assume responsibility for making revisions! Speaking in the target language and attempting to circumlocute so a partner understands could be an example of assisting peers in precise use of language. REMEMBER–this descriptor is used for all classes students take, most of which involve their first language (ELLs obviously excluded). This is NOT specifically about course content vocabulary, but rather about students expressing themselves well and clearly, and helping each other to do so. Or at least that is what I’m going to tell my principal.
Component 2c: Managing Classroom Procedures
-Instructional time is maximized due to efficient and seamless classroom routines and procedures.
-Students take initiative in the management of instructional groups and transitions, and/or the handling of materials and supplies.
-Routines are well understood and may be initiated by students.
-Volunteers and paraprofessionals make an independent contribution to the class.
Two words: Class Jobs. During the first couple of weeks, practice routines (I use “get in pairs”, “make a group of 4”, and “back to normal places” as TPR commands!). Have students be in charge of anything in your classroom that doesn’t require a college degree. Take attendance? Hand back papers? Collect homework? Close the door? Turn off the lights? All jobs that a student can be on the hook to do automatically when class begins. Maximizing instructional time also means that class runs “bell to bell”. I use a warm-up and sometimes add an exit slip to start and end class. Many teachers make the first 5-10 minutes of class silent reading time. Make everything a routine. A wise woman (Meredith White) presented about how routine is familiar and comfortable, and the variety comes from the content or the people involved, much like talk shows have all the same segments repeated frequently but with different content and different participants. (Look up Jimmy Fallon’s “Box of Lies” game on YouTube. Same premise, but different and hilarious every time.)
I’ll admit, I’m stumped with the volunteers/paraprofessionals part. I don’t ever get either in my class. But then, using them to make independent contribution to class isn’t a CI issue. I don’t know how one does that in ANY type of class!
Component 2d: Managing Student Behavior
-Student behavior is entirely appropriate.
-Students take an active role in monitoring their own behavior and/or that of other students against standards of conduct.
-Teacher monitoring of student behavior is subtle and preventive.
-The teacher’s response to student misbehavior is sensitive to individual student needs and respects students’ dignity.
Well, I’m not sure how there CAN be a teacher response to misbehavior if the student behavior is entirely appropriate, but all of these are just solid classroom management. Some classes have people who monitor English usage (possibly with a token passed to whoever used English in an unauthorized way and whoever has the token at the end of the period gets some light-hearted consequence). This would certainly keep kids also monitoring their behavior and others. But this is a fine line to walk…because you don’t want kids constantly paying attention only to others’ behavior in order to call them out. Consider using some system like that of Fred Jones or the Love & Logic system to make sure students are treated with kindness and not punitively. And it helps to get to know the students, what is important to them, and what their “tells” are so you can see things coming before problems actually happen. Many kids are really, really bad at having a poker face.
Component 2e: Organizing Physical Space
-The classroom environment is safe, and learning is accessible to all students, including those with special needs.
-The teacher makes effective use of physical resources, including computer technology.
-The teacher ensures that the physical arrangement is appropriate to the learning activities.
-Students contribute to the use or adaptation of the physical environment to advance learning.
Dude, if your space isn’t physically safe, you need to fix that. Be sure students can all see your presentation space. Like, actually sit in the seats and be sure there is no obstructed view area. Many teachers have gone deskless, and have begun using flexible seating–that totally fits into this! And if students take initiative to use different seats and regroup as needed, all the better.
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