Learning Teams and Classroom Discipline

I am offering my colleagues here in Denver a twist on what we typically think of as a TPRS presentation. It is connected to Rick Dufour’s idea of professional learning teams. I think that we rely too much on the experts – they can’t do it all. I feel strongly that the rest of us need to get together in little professional learning teams. I have heard this idea described as “coaching workshops” before but I don’t like that term.

All the legal junk prevents my videotaping the class with kids, but I don’t see the value of a videotape with no kids in it. I need my students to properly show what I do. That is of course not possible at conferences, so teachers become the students, and that is very effective, but I want to address classroom discipline with my guests on Tuesday, so I need real students, and not just the best ones.

When teachers are the students, the TPRS has to go at a totally beginning level, as the “students” know nothing.  This is not the reality.  It is impressive, but it is not the real world we teach in every day, with real discipline problems ripping into the psyches of so many of us, new and experienced, every day.

I have received so many emails lately from awesome people who are going nuts trying to do TPRS because of the discipline piece. Some are ready to quit. Many have quit and have gone back to the book. 

I want to address how comprehensible input and personalization are linked to classroom discipline. I want my guests to see how real classroom discipline emerges naturally from these two things.

I find it fascinating that inside the paradigm shift that is TPRS is a sub-paradigm shift that will bring a new form of discipline, one that emerges from within the child naturally, so that forced external discipline is not necessary, and mutual respect between teacher and student is established in our classrooms.

I have a bunch of handouts on discipline which are now live on my new benslavic.com site. They are for my guests on Tuesday to read before the workshop so we don’t spend a lot of time discussing theory when we should be rolling up our sleeves and getting to work. Click on “workshops” or “resources” for those.

Back to learning teams. Why am I connecting them to classroom discipline in TPRS in this post? Because if I were to demonstrate what works for me in keeping my kids disciplined in my classroom, when my guests went home, they would forget a lot of it.  What works for me may not work for them.

So if they get ideas from me on Tuesday, and then practice them for a short while, and then if we get together again, we can address each person’s progress as a group. Then we can make the learning stick. It is the only way I see it working.

Maybe little TPRS learning teams could work. The teams could talk less about the “what” of TPRS and more about the “how” and get in each other’s faces a little bit, so we can experience that fear that is so common to all of us with the method, look each other in the eye, and grow to be better TPRS teachers.

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