A new teaching taxonomy
Doug Lemov, founder of the charter-school network Uncommon Schools, has catalogued 49 clear and specific techniques that promise to improve teacher effectiveness, including:
- The cold call,
- The difference between praise and acknowledgement,
- The use of hand signals to correct behavior, and
- The integration of joyful activities and physical movement into a structured learning environment.
Among the factors that do not predict whether a teacher will succeed: a graduate-school degree, a high score on the SAT, an extroverted personality, politeness, confidence, warmth, enthusiasm and having passed the teacher-certification exam on the first try.
When Doug Lemov conducted his own search for those magical ingredients, he noticed something about most successful teachers that he hadn’t expected to find: what looked like natural-born genius was often deliberate technique in disguise. “Stand still when you’re giving directions,” a teacher at a Boston school told him. In other words, don’t do two things at once. Lemov tried it, and suddenly, he had to ask students to take out their homework only once.
It was the tiniest decision, but what was teaching if not a series of bite-size moves just like that?
Lemov thought about soccer, another passion. If his teammates wanted him to play better, they didn’t just say, “Get better.” They told him to “mark tighter” or “close the space.” Maybe the reason he and others were struggling so mightily to talk and even to think about teaching was that the right words didn’t exist — or at least, they hadn’t been collected. And so he set out to assemble the hidden wisdom of the best teachers in America.
Read the entire article here.
UPDATE: NPR’s “Talk of the Nation” had a great story on this very issue a few days ago. Check out “Good teaching is about hard work, not a halo.” The quick takeaway: Effective teachers are made, not born. (thx, Leo)