kitchen table math, the sequel: the ingredients to good teaching

Sunday, March 7, 2010

the ingredients to good teaching

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.

Oh, check out these amazing videos.

The idea behind the whole article is that great teaching doesn't have to require the skills of a charismatic extroverted genius -- it's a set of concrete techniques combined with deep understanding of the subject you're teaching.


Independent George said...

But that's not authentic teaching!

palisadesk said...

Fred Jones said almost exactly the same thing. He had imbibed the “born teacher” myth and had a rude awakening when he was called upon to do some consulting at a school for incarcerated teens. The principal directed him to a classroom, where he entered to find students standing on tables, throwing things, climbing on windowsills, some huddled under tables, all kinds of ruckus, and the teacher yelling ineffectively at the front. Well, they were juvenile delinquents after all.

He went to some other classrooms and a period or two later noticed something. He was in a class of students who could have been from Groton or Phillips Exeter. They were seated, attentive, raising hands to answer, deeply engaged – in algebra, no less. It was a few moments before he realized that these were the exact same students as he had seen in the first classroom. Only the teacher was different.

That set him on the path to learn what it was that made one teacher highly successful with these (unlikely) students, while another was not. He learned over time that there are identifiable skills, behaviors and practices that teachers can learn that will make them much more effective, regardless of their baseline at the start. Those who are “natural born teachers” just do more of these things without being taught – but others can learn.

I took a week-long course from Fred Jones a few summers ago in Maine. It was worth every penny. His book, Positive Classroom Instruction, is now out of print (but available on secondhand book sites) and an excellent one on instructional issues, while Positive Classroom Discipline has some extremely good ideas and practical ones for managing student behavior not only in a positive way but in an instruction-friendly way. – so that more time is spent on effective learning.

His book Tools for Teachers is an excellent handbook for any new teacher (or one changing assignments, grade levels, etc). I refer to my copy frequently.

His website has lots of good articles and resources.

Catherine Johnson said...

I can't wait to get my hands on Lemov's book!

I had no idea there were videos---

Catherine Johnson said...

oh my gosh - I think I have Fred Jones' book.

Must check.

John said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
John said...

For more information, visit our website (more videos too!)