This entire year it seems like I have had the hardest time reaching a group of my students. Said group consists of 8th graders. Now last year, I loved my 8th grade class (they were an improvement over my 7th grade class). But I also had known the kids and their older siblings from previous years and had a rapport at the school.
Since I started over this year, I have a different group of 8th graders every quarter. These 8th graders really can do amazing things with language because they haven't quite become self-aware yet to realize that they might look like a fool in front of the rest of the class.
Nevertheless, my first group of students all followed one student. About halfway through the first quarter, he decided he didn't like Spanish class (in conjunction with some big personal stuff going on in his life I found out about). I was counting the weeks until that class was over so I could start over with a fresh group. They actually did pretty well. They responded well to my rules.
I have another group who has been wonderful with the language and I felt like I was getting even better with my storytelling abilities and simply allowing a story to happen with them. But two of the students in there are a little unruly. One of them bought into class for awhile and she was behaved. She's a little bit of a firecracker. But for the most part she does what's needed to be done. The other student is the leader of the pack. He's the cool guy and everyone knows it. I actually think he's a really neat kid. I had to hold him after one day and I asked him to help me out with the class because the other kids look up to him. He has (to his credit) been pretty awesome since (except Kindergarten day). I think he enjoys class but he still has to be "cool."
The firecracker though today was upset at me for not letting her sit in a different chair from the seating chart. I have come to the conclusion that there is no reason or argument good enough for a teenage girl. This is most likely why Fred Jones talks about the blank stare. If you give the student nothing to fire back at you with, you will most likely eventually get cooperation. So note to self, don't attempt to reason with the firecracker anymore.
I thought maybe my kids are just getting bored with what we're talking about in class. So I need to actually get to the storytelling and personalizing the stories to them instead of more One-word images. I did the one-word images for about three weeks now, so it's probably time for something new.