California Educator

August 2016

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n o o n e k n o w s b e tt e r t h a n Rick Morris how classroom management — or the lack of it — can drive many a promising teacher from the profession. He has seen it in the 30 years that he has conducted classroom management trainings to throngs of teachers, including well-attended sessions at CTA's Good Teaching Conferences. A f o r m e r e l e m e n t a r y s c h o o l teacher in San Diego, Morris is the author of The Big Book: Ideas for a Happy and Productive Classroom. He readily acknowledges his own classroom management skills didn't kick in until year 5 of teaching, and he was into his 15th year before he felt fully competent. "e public has no idea how dif- ficult good teaching is," he says. "It takes experience. ere are so many variables on any given day; every day is new; kids have different needs, dif- ferent expectations, difficult home situations. Put it all together in one pot and it's a complex environment. I 'm tr ying to save people years of grief I went through." Morris advocates that teachers transition from an obedience model of classroom management to one in which students experience more freedom . He advi ses t each ers to promote four key character traits in their students: • Self-determination • Conceptual thinking • Creativity • Productivity Al l of th e s e are b e st a cquired when there is a classroom culture that values freedom , self-control and independence. Morris offers a number of tech- n i q u e s a n d i d e a s i n h i s t e a c h e r workshops to cultivate that kind of classroom. O n e t e chni qu e h e su g ge st s to promote the idea of freedom is to create a NUMBER1 "Freedom List." He explains that every year, around week 6, he'd offer his students the opportunity to work away from their assigned desks. It didn't matter if the student chose a spot on the carpet, an empty desk or against the wall. He created a roster of names, and anyone who moved but had gotten off task was returned to their regular seat, where they would remain for the rest of the week. Each Monday, a new list would be posted, offering students a fresh start. In the ensuing weeks, students began to develop more self-control. At h i s s e s si o n s , Mo r r i s u rg e s teachers to try one new idea when they get back to their classrooms, and to be patient. Some students, especially high school students, may push back and call the idea "stupid," he says, but he advises educators to take a month to get the structure in place. ey should introduce similar new ideas throughout the year. Morris says high school teachers Master Class Rick Morris says student independence, self- control means better classroom management By DINA MARTIN "Do you know what good classroom management looks like? It's a class that runs itself." — Rick Morris 32 F E A T U R E

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