Thursday, August 26, 2010

A Good, Last-minute Reminder

I find it weird (and wonderful, I guess) that, after more than four decades of teaching, and on the eve of starting another school year, a single book can create a small storm in my mind about what makes a good teacher. I’m talking about Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov, which I’ve been immersed in this afternoon and which, in just a few hours, has gently shaken up both my deep-seated and systematized teaching theories and my carefully planned curriculum for the coming year. I feel sort of like the captain of a ship who wonders, a few days before embarking on an expedition, if he needs to significantly refurbish his boat. I’m sure I’m exaggerating a bit, but the truth is, this book has caused me to reconsider some of my beliefs about teaching. I’m not going to toss out my teaching style or curriculum in these last few days before school starts, but I am going to consider cutting back on the various trifles and trumpery I sometimes employ and simply stay focused on teaching a straightforward and solid lesson each day. Lemov reminds me that being a champion teacher doesn’t depend on how many “exciting” gimmicks I use or how much “fun” the students have, but only on how much the students learn and how good they feel about their learning. It’s a message I might have missed all year were it not for this rousing, call-to-arms book that was brought in the mail yesterday.

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