I mentioned Doug Lemov of Uncommon Schools several weeks ago in a post about tenure, teacher layoffs, budgets cuts and how to make teachers better.

Uncommon Schools

is a nonprofit organization that starts and manages outstanding urban charter public schools that close the achievement gap and prepare low-income students to graduate from college. Playing on Horace Mann’s notion of the “common school,” and born of the fact that too many of today’s educational institutions steer toward mediocrity, Uncommon was founded to create more uncommon schools – uncommonly good, extraordinary, autonomous, and distinctive.

As the managing director, Lemov has done a lot of work trying to figure out what makes a teacher a champion and then finding ways to share that with others. His latest project is Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College.

It’s an interesting concept. Watch great teachers teach, gather together their best ideas and train others to use those ideas in ways specific to each teacher.

I just started going through Teach Like a Champion and am impressed with both the simplicity and power of Lemov’s suggestions. Much of what Lemov shares seems pretty basic.

SLANT shows how to teach “behavior and skills that help students concentrate, focus and learn.”

  • Sit up
  • Listen
  • Ask and answer questions
  • Nod your head
  • Track the speaker

Or Exit Ticket

  • a single question or short sequence of problems to solve at the end of a class
  • they’re quick – one to three questions
  • designed to yield data
  • share the data the next day with kids

This is not rocket science. But what makes Lemov’s ideas so effective is that they are intentional. I think many teachers use powerful and effective strategies but I also believe that many of us fail to use them purposefully. We don’t plan for these things to happen.

The beauty of Lemov’s book is that these are things we should practice and plan to use. Lemov has also included a variety of video clips that highlight specific techniques being used by classroom teachers.

If you’ve got some left over PD funds or classroom budget money anywhere in your building, buy one copy and pass around. You’ll walk away a better teacher!

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