California Educator

August 2016

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Morris' Classroom Management Tips From Eight Great Ideas: Simple Ways to Transform Your Teaching SAFE RELATIONSHIPS WITH STUDENTS A study of what affects student achievement found that "the quality of relationships" with educators accounted for 78 percent. I'm not advocat- ing the need to be best friends with your students. It's merely that your students need to know that you see them as more than a bunch of warm bodies filling the seats in your classroom. 44 For instance, when you first see a student, is your response "Did you do your homework last night?" or "Good to see you. How are you doin' today?" 45 When it comes to taking care of a job in class, do you say "I said I'll take care of that. Just leave it alone and go back to your seat" or "Would you mind taking care of this for us?" "COULD YOU DO A SAMPLE?" I've heard students say "I don't get it!" quite a bit over the years, and I always responded in the same, predictable Old School way: "What don't you get?" This oen confuses students even more. They might think, "Is he asking me to explain what I don't get? Hey, if I could explain it, I'd under- stand it." When I eventually realized that "What don't you get?" was an ineffec- tive response, I taught my students to ask for a sample. 46 Aer explaining when to use the phrase and exactly what it means, it still takes about a month or so for them to develop the habit of using it. To help them along, I'll take the lead. If I see that some of my students are looking at their neighbors for clar- ification about what I just said to everyone, I'll say, "If you'd like a sample, just ask." Confused Student: "Could you do a sample, please?" What the student is really saying is: "Hey, Mr. Morris. Stop talking. Your words are doing me no good." "Could you model what you're talking about?" "Could you draw what you're talking about?" "If it's a written assignment you're asking us to do, could you show me what it's supposed to look like?" "Could you have students demonstrate what you're talking about?" Here's the beauty of "Could you do a sample, please?" It's safe lan- guage. It doesn't mean the student is stupid. It doesn't mean he wasn't paying attention. It doesn't mean he wasn't trying hard. It just means that he would like the information to be presented in a different way than it has already been presented. See for more tips. might find classroom manage- ment more difficult since they may only have students for one period a day. Top that with all the emotions and issues going on with adolescents, and class- r o o m m a n a g e m e n t c a n b e brutal for a high school teacher. "It's all about relationships, and in high school everything is departmentalized. Teachers must focus on what they teach, rather than who they teach," he says, adding rhetorically, "If I only got you for math, and you hate math, how do we connect?" Nevertheless, Morris has received positive feed- back, even from high school teachers. Deborah Rodriguez, a third-year high school Spanish teacher in West Sacramento, successfully implemented a couple of techniques in her class this spring after attending Morris' session at the Good Teaching Conference, and plans to introduce more next year. "Each student in my class was already assigned a class number due to having Chromebooks in the classroom, so as they completed each step of work, they would move their number to the next step," she says. "This gave them a subtle way of letting others know when they were done, and a more obvious way for me to tell who was ready to move forward. We've been using them ever since." Of course, not all students are able to adapt. Stu- dents who are out-and-out disruptive must be dealt with, Morris says. "Being positive is a great idea, but if you can't be firm and tell a student 'No, that's inappropriate,' the game is over," he says. Classroom management is really teacher lead- ership, Morris says. "It's inspiring students to want to do a better job, and it has to be in how the classroom is structured. Do we promote self-di- rection and independence, or do we just look for compliance? Do you know what good classroom management looks like? It's a class that runs itself." Morris plans to create a series of videos with CTA that teachers can access beginning in 2017. 33 August 2016

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