Jack Oliver Morris
Name: Jack Oliver Morris Name in School: Mr. Jack School: Bao’an Middle School
Subject(s)/Grade(s) taught at current assignment: English 7th Grade
Education: BA Media and Communications.
Short Bio: Prior to moving to China I lived in the UK. I was born and raised in a quaint little village in Cheshire and later moved to a quaint little town in Aberystwyth, Wales for my studies. It was only after university that I discovered what I love doing; helping people.
I took a job with a charity, supporting adults with learning difficulties and I loved every minute of it. I found that enriching the lives of others enriched my own life. Working at the charity taught me many skills that I have transferred over to my role as a teacher. Skills such as patience, offering good guidance, offering good advice and the power of showing, not telling.
After leaving Wales I took many jobs and hated them all. They lacked heart. I wasn’t making a difference and I was miserable, so I hopped on a plane to China and I’ve never looked back! A dramatic choice, maybe, but possibly the best decision of my life!
Teaching Motto: You can’t teach if you’re unwilling to learn
Favorite Educational Quote: “I hate using quotes. They always sound so pretentious”
Favorite Teaching Strategy, Philosophy, Researcher, etc.: Learn from your students and find common interests. If they see you enjoying yourself, they’ll follow suit.
If someone walked into your classroom during an outstanding lesson, what would they see and hear?
Laughter, games and enthusiastic students, learning English without realising. In a good class there is so much going on. Students will be talking in English to one another, some will be helping their class-mates, others will be taking meticulous notes while some will be standing up and showing the class how amazing their English is. It can often look like chaos, but look closely and you’ll see that there’s a lot of method in what looks like madness.
Tell about a successful behavior management strategy you have used in the past that helped engage a pupil or group of pupils? When I notice a student is distracted I won’t let it stop the class, instead I will continue to teach, but ensure that the next question I ask is directed towards the student not paying attention. If it’s a group of pupils, any subsequent questions are directed to another student in the same group.
If you overheard some colleagues talking about you, what would they say? This happened last week when I was made privy to a group chat. The teachers were impressed that I took the to listen and offer guidance to students at the end of each class. I find free talk to be hugely beneficial, as it helps to sound more natural. Case in point, I have never heard anyone say “I like to fly a kite. It is interesting” outside of a classroom. Free talk is great and helps students to speak in a natural conversational way. I was happy to hear that colleagues in my school appreciated this.
What are the key qualities and skills that students look for in teachers? Friendly, fair, firm and interesting. My least favourite teachers possessed few of these qualities. The teachers I remember most fondly possessed them all.
Discuss the classroom routines and procedures that you employ; include how you establish and implement them and how you respond to inappropriate behavior.
Regardless of grade or English ability, I feel the rules should be kept as simple as possible. This leaves little room for any excuses when the rules are broken. If the rules are broken I follow three steps:
Step 1: Use your best glare to signal that what he/she is doing is inappropriate. If inappropriate behavior continues, see step 2.
Step 2: Find an appropriate pause in the class to talk to the student. Explain the rules and explain what will happen if their inappropriate behavior continues. What will happen? See step 3
Step 3: I have a seating plan of the class. Is someone is behaving inappropriately, I will mark their seat. This will be given to the class monitor or their head teacher. If their seat is marked, I will discuss with their head teacher.
Describe do you convey the importance of the content and your expectations for achievement.
No. I try to make my lessons fun and interesting while keeping the grammar applicable to their every day lives. I try to show students how interesting English can be by showing them topics they enjoy. Music, movies, games and a hint of drama will make them want to learn rather than feeling they have to because it’s important for their working future, which at this point in their lives, seems a million years away.
I expect that they try. I don’t take no for an answer.
Anything else you’d like to include as a “Star Teacher” ?
I have no doubt that jumping in at the deep end had helped me to become a much stronger teacher. Although it’s perhaps a little trite, I believe you should try one thing a day that scares you. Moving to China was terrifying for me. My very first class ranks as one of the most petrifying things I’ve ever done. Even the small things like singing in class frighten me. After trying a scary thing once, it becomes much easier.
Trying new and scary things can teach you through trial and error. If it works tell your colleagues and suggest they try the same. If it fails, you know never to try it again! Nobody needs to know!
I’ve been incredibly lucky to have ended up at Bao’an Middle School. I couldn’t have hoped for a better workplace. The students and teachers are all so friendly and kind. It makes it an incredibly positive learning environment for students and teachers alike. I owe thanks to this school, the teachers, my company, the bureau and my friends, all without whom I never would have received the star teacher award.