From the Desk of Tim LaCourt
Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lemov
2010, John Wiley & Sons
In the foreword to Teach Like A Champion, Norman Atkins describes the author’s mission as, “The fight for educational equity”. The book reflects Mr. Lemov’s mission in its description of more than 60 techniques that keep an eye on high expectations and learning objectives. One technique offers ways to provide students with errorless learning. Technique 1, No Opt Out, describes variants of a procedure that bring students who do not know the answer, to answering correctly as often as possible:
- When a student answers incorrectly, the teacher provides the answer and the student repeats it.
When a student answers incorrectly, another student provides the answer and the student who answered incorrectly repeats it. Variant: Have the entire class respond.
A somewhat higher level of this technique…
- When a student answers incorrectly, teacher provides a cue to the answer (“additional useful information”); student uses the cue to find the answer.
- When a student answers incorrectly, another student provides a cue for the initial student to find a correct answer.
This procedure is one for the teacher’s tool belt. It shouldn’t be used all the time, but when students are “feigning ignorance” or trying to get the conversation off-task, this is a good way to regain focus. The technique is directive, and requires a classroom built on trust and respect. Mastering the technique will allow the teacher to build success in students who have often been left out of the dynamic discussions of the classroom.
The book offers ideas for planning and preparation that keep an eye on academic achievement. Technique 6, Begin With The End, teaches us not to ask, “What am I going to do tomorrow?” which keeps a focus on activities; rather, ask, “What will my students understand tomorrow?” This daily questioning is based on long-range planning and daily formative assessment to refine plans and the sequence of activities in which students will engage. Technique 6 builds informed teaching that keeps the spotlight on learning.
“Good planning requires specificity” is a lead in to the idea of Technique 10, Double Plan. It is a seemingly simple idea, but one often forgotten by teachers, i.e., plan what students will be doing during each phase of the lesson. Teachers often carefully outline what they will be doing, but the “double plan” part–describing what students will do during the lesson–is critical.
Teach Like A Champion comes with a DVD showing 25 clips of the various techniques described in its chapters.
Whether a new or experienced teacher, if seeking ways to improve practice and include more students at a higher level of learning, Teach Like A Champion offers common sense techniques to get there.