Great Teachers, according to Doug Lemov

Interesting NYTimes article about what makes a good teacher and a guy named Doug Lemov, who’s trying to find out. Lemov stresses classroom management as an important part of teaching.

All Lemov’s techniques depend on his close reading of the students’ point of view, which he is constantly imagining. In Boston, he declared himself on a personal quest to eliminate the saying of “shh” in classrooms, citing what he called “the fundamental ambiguity of ‘shh.’ Are you asking the kids not to talk, or are you asking kids to talk more quietly?” A teacher’s control, he said repeatedly, should be “an exercise in purpose, not in power.” So there is Warm/Strict, technique No. 45, in which a correction comes with a smile and an explanation for its cause — “Sweetheart, we don’t do that in this classroom because it keeps us from making the most of our learning time.”

The J-Factor, No. 46, is a list of ways to inject a classroom with joy, from giving students nicknames to handing out vocabulary words in sealed envelopes to build suspense. In Cold Call, No. 22, stolen from Harvard Business School, which Lemov attended, the students don’t raise their hands — the teacher picks the one who will answer the question. Lemov’s favorite variety has the teacher ask the question first, and then say the student’s name, forcing every single student to do the work of figuring out an answer.

Here are some short video clips of teachers Lemov admires, in action. I showed these to a teacher friend, who argues that this kind of classroom management is too behaviour-focussed, and while getting kids to sit quietly and listen does help them learn facts, the kids aren’t challenged to construct knowledge from their own observations and experience when learning this way. Which I thought was also good food for thought. This whole thing is very complicated. I wish someone would just teach me how to think.

Via MeFi.


4 Responses to Great Teachers, according to Doug Lemov

  1. Lyla Weinsheimer says:

    De Bono’s six thinking hats is helpful for kids. Just to say “think ” to a child does not indicate how to do it. I like to encourage lateral thinking to allow kids to see consequences that cause the next behavior good or bad.Accepting thoughtful explanations that may not coincide with the teacher’s ideas also encourages students to speak their minds without fear of being incorrect.A dead silent classroom is only necessary for tests or silent reading.Students have to relate to each other just as any normal group would be expected to do.After 58 years in classrooms I find that senior students appreciate it when their ideas are acceptable and they feel free to be honest in expressing themselves and their points-of view. Super teachers are born to be good communicators who incidentally love their work. I am 86 and still love working with students of all ages.They stimulate me and keep me current in my thinking. Best profession in the world if you love people.NO amount of money would have taken me away from this wonderful world of kids!

  2. noah says:

    You KNOW how to think. I think yer a genius. It’s a great article. And Lyla sounds like a great teacher!

  3. Anne Fitzpatrick says:

    I liked the ideas of Doug Lemov. It was very much, though, like “sage on the stage.” The teacher was still the center of everything. I would like to see more emphasis on student discourse. In other words, thinking about effective was to get students talking to one another rather than totally relying on the teacher for structure and information.

    For example, in order to get everyone talking – not just the student the teacher calls on – get students talking to one another about their ideas. Then have students report out what their partner told them and ask them to say if they agreed or disagreed.

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