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Building a Better Teacher

Monday, May 10th, 2010

I’m super excited about this New York Times Magazine article about building a better teacher.

In it, the author explores a paradox. Having a great teacher maximizes a kid’s academic success more than any other factor. No other policy or practice—rigorous standards, standardized testing, phonics, smaller class size, more parental involvement—even comes close.

However, the current debate about education policy seems to completely ignore this fact. The logic goes, if teachers aren’t up to snuff, they should be fired, because teachers are either good or bad, and a bad teacher can never become a great teacher.

Doug Lemov, one of the main subjects of this article, shows that being a great teacher is not a function of one’s charisma; it’s not a fixed, intrinsic trait. Anyone can learn how to become a a great teacher.

Lemov has spent years studying superstar teachers, breaking down their technique like a football coach analyzing effective plays. He’s dedicated his life’s work to identifying the superstars’ common practices, creating a language to describe these practices, and helping both new and veteran teachers adapt these practices of champions.

For years, “Lemov’s taxonomy” was primarily available in xeroxed, samizdat-style copies passed around the educational community. But now his work is finally available to everyone. His new book, Teach Like a Champion, clearly explains how to immediately start implementing the techniques of these superstar teachers in your own classroom.

I’m halfway through reading Teach Like a Champion and look forward to reviewing it here, so watch this space!

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