Jun 29 2010

Teach Like A Champion — First Impressions

Published by the same publisher, and just two months after, the TFA ‘Teaching As Leadership’ book, I was curious to see if this book could live up to its hype.

I’m only a few pages in, but my first impression is that this is an excellent book. What I like about this book is that rather than lofty ideals he focuses on the ‘craft’ of teaching — the seemingly small details that add up to a lot of ‘achievement gap closing.’

A quote from the intro underscores the difference between this book and the other:

When I was a young teacher, people gave me lots of advice. I’d go to trainings and leave with lofty words ringing in my ears. They touched on everything that had made me want to teach. “Hiave high expectations for your students.” “Expect the most from students every day.” “Teach kids, not content.” I’d be inspired, ready to improve – until I got to school the next day. I’d find myself asking, “Well, how do I do that? What’s the action I should take at 8:27 A.M. to demonstrate those raised expectations.”

My sense is that Lemov approached this task of quantifying what techniques the best teachers use like a scientist. It wasn’t about what things he hoped work, or about what things he thinks he should say work because it will result in higher funding for his organizations. Many of his techniques are, by his own admission, not ‘glamorous.’ (Compare ‘Teaching As Leadership’ where one of the techniques is to camp out at the house when a parent is difficult to reach by phone.)

Anyway, aside from skimming the book and reading the intro, I don’t want to yet proclaim my full endorsement of the book, but it does look pretty good so far.

So, to anybody who thinks that I like to bash books to make my own two books look better, here’s a counterexample.

5 Responses

  1. My favorite part of this book is the included DVD with actual examples of the techniques. What a fabulous idea; actually seeing something in action makes it so much easier to imagine implementing it.

  2. It seems to me, and perhaps I’m way off base here, that the two books do not share an intended purpose, even though they likely share an audience.

    There is little doubt, I would think even among most in the TFA camp, that Teaching As Leadership is not going to produce great teachers on its own. To use TFA lingo, it works mostly on a teacher’s mindsets.

    It seems that Lamov’s book focuses particularly on what teacher actions correlate with student success in low-income classrooms, which is an area where we certainly need more high quality texts. In TFA lingo, Teach Like a Champion focuses on a teacher’s skills.

    In TAL we can infer how author feels about skills based on what he says about mindsets and it works in reverse for Lamov.

  3. Ms R (an alum)

    I agree with Z_Quake – in fact, I think the two texts complement each other fabulously.

    I think TFA works to get at the execution/ skills pieces through the actual training it provides via institute and regional training. I do think that TFA would be well served to learn as much as possible from Lemov and Uncommon Schools (not to say they aren’t – I actually think the organization very much seems to value Uncommon from workshops I’ve seen available at TFA events).

  4. garyrubinstein

    When I think of two things ‘complementing’ each other, I think that each could stand on it’s own but together are even better. I don’t the the TFA book really standing on its own. It has some horrible oversimplified advice (and some good advice too, see the lengthy critique I’ve done) so it really can’t complement a book that does everything the TFA book was supposed to do and more.

  5. We use TLC in our network of schools and it really does work. A lot of the practices were things we were doing unconsciously but never really put a name to them. Now that we’re training teaching residents and preparing them to go into the city’s toughest schools, these techniques have been invaluable.

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By a somewhat frustrated 1991 alum

Region
Houston
Grade
High School
Subject
Math

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