Join the Choir
Think of yourselves as a choir. This is my general call to all my students as we begin the year.
This analogy works for a few reasons.
-Our students are familiar with the concept of choirs and what is expected.
-Choirs are supposed to sound pleasant. There is harmony.
-Choir is more that just singing; it's about facial expression and body language too.
-In a choir, there may be soloists, but they are pre-determined (our bleaters and echoers and other student jobs we assign).
And most importantly...
In a choir the director leads. She's the one who knows what the song should sound like. Same thing in a language acquisition classroom, where we are the only ones who can speak the language.
When we make this analogy clear early on, we can also head off potential disruptions and/or negative relationships from two particular students who have a hard time harmonizing (but love to sing).
1. The wiseguy who likes to think he may be able to disrupt the flow of our back-and-forth and/or subvert our agenda to create a PLACE (Positive Language Acquiring Community Environment... but don't repeat that acronym, I just made it up). He will wait til just the right time to make his comment so that everyone in the class hears him. He wants to be the director. He wants his classmates' approval and tries to get it by gaining our disapproval.
2. The teacher-pleaser who is hoping to grab that valedictorian spot for graduation (bless her heart) by making sure that every one of her teachers recognizes her as the best and the brightest. She answers confidently and promptly. But she intimidates others from answering in the process.
What analogies have others used to communicate this message that no one person should overpower the rest of the class when answering our questions?