TEACH LIKE A CHAMPION – BOOK REVIEW

THIS IS REPOSTED FROM (haroldshawjr.com)

I tell my students that if you write about (reflect on) what you read that you will understand and maybe remember what you read better.  After all the hype and hyperbole, I decided to read Teach Like A Champion by Doug Lemov.  I plan to do a series of blog posts on this book as I read it on how Teach Like A Champion pertains to me in my Special Education Resource Room setting, if it does at all.
I admit I am going in with certain biases, based upon my previous experiences with private and public schools. My background is as a retired Coast GuardWarrant Officer – Personnel Administration, working at Private Special Purpose School for Behaviorally Challenged students for almost a total of 11 years – 7 years as a Special Education Teacher, being the State AmeriCorps Grants & Program Officer for the State of Maine and most recently a Special Education Teacher in a Public Junior High School.
These experiences might give me a slightly different perspective than some others who have read or will read this book.
I am not going to use proper MLA or APA styles or citations when I quote from Teach Like A Champion for this blog entries. This book review is being done in an informal writing style, not for grading, vetting or peer review, so please understand when I use quotations marks that I am quoting directly from Mr. Lemov’s book.
The book starts out by saying that “Great teaching is an art.” – then in the next paragraph he goes on to explain that “Great art relies n the mastery and application of foundational skills, learned individually through diligent study.” (pg 1)  I wholeheartedly agree that teaching is an art, it is not something just anyone can pick up off the street and simply do, it takes time to become a good to great teacher.  This apparent view is contrary to what many in educational or political leadership positions appear to believe though.
Two important definitions that he puts forth are in his Introduction are:
  • “A strategy is a generalized approach to a problem, a way to inform decisions.”
  • “A technique is an action, the more you practice it, the better you get.”
These are important distinctions to much of what he writes and from what I have read so far that he believes that teachers need to focus more on the techniques they use in when teaching, than on strategies that tend to be too broad to be of practical use in the classroom.  The strategies are the overarching mission and are important, but how do they fit specifically in the classroom?

This actually makes a great deal of sense to me, a strategy like “having high expectations for all students” really doesn’t mean a whole lot unless you know what the high expectations are.  Do they fit the situation, are they high expectations for the individual, resource room, classroom, or school, what specific criteria is the teacher expecting the student to meet, etc.,

He discusses that teachers need Specific, Concrete, Actionable Techniques…i.e. “When you want them to follow your directions, stand still.” Which is a specific technique for a teacher that give import to the direction they are giving to the students.
This standing still while giving directions is one that I personally will have a hard time with, I like to move around when I am talking, going over and re-directing students with proximity, body language or “the look” while I am talking.  But at the same time I can see how my moving around while giving directions could be distracting to my students and might make a difference to how they listen.  I will have to try this one.
The introduction goes on to begin initial discussion using objectives versus standards when planning lessons/units (which seems to be better than the uncoordinated weekly or unit planning that I have done in the past).  He touches upon using Data to measure students’ progress – a more assessment is better approach – it to me depends on what type of assessments he is talking about. I will keep an open (somewhat) mind on this subject until I have finished this book and Driven by Data).  I like the initial presentation on Higher-Level Lesson Planning and Content and Rigor (I hate that word, it just has such negative connotations to my way of thinking)
Now that I have read the introduction I have a bunch of questions that I am sure will be answered by reading more of the book, but I am concerned and wonder how some of these techniques and information will/can be used in my Resource Room. Learning what I can use from this book is what part of journey I will writing be about while I read Teach Like A Champion and blog about it here.