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'Good teachers can be made' says Doug Lemov
The central assertion of Doug Lemov's philosophy is that 'good teachers can be made'. Lemov is author of Teach Like a Champion, a book which has rapidly earned the status of 'teaching bible' among new teachers.
Lemov is also managing director of Uncommon Schools, a chain of 42 charter schools in the United States. His influence is spreading among politicians and policy makers on both sides of the Atlantic.
Lemov offers three main insights:
It doesn't matter where you are, the problems and challenges teachers face are widespread, shared and pretty predictable.
What marks out the best teachers is that they have found ways or techniques to deal with these problems.
It's not rocket science. It might be a good idea to properly record in accessible format exactly how those great teachers solved the problems so that a wider audience may benefit.
Criticism of Lemov centres around the charge that if you get teachers to simply memorise techniques, you in effect create robots without independent agency. Lemov denies this. He says teachers must find their own way to teach, but with an understanding of the techniques the best teachers are using.
Lemov looks at what is happening at the chalk face: the daily interactions, exchanges and interventions that happen between teacher and student. He explains the value of identifying the basic routines used by the best teachers and then systematically training others by helping them practice these routines until they stick.
Lemov's book, Teach Like a Champion, which lists 49 techniques for teachers to put students 'on the path to college' is popular with new teachers, because there are so few other places to look for simple routines and techniques to help teachers quickly develop a good behaviour culture, enable rapid assessment, provide effective feedback, and a host of other techniques. Lemov says teachers must be open and honest about their mistakes so they and other teachers in their school can learn from them. This is about sharing both good practice and mistakes. Learning from others and professional development are part and parcel of the job and beware those who claim that good teachers are just 'born', not made. He claims that teachers have never developed a shared vocabulary for discussing their work in detail ... Lemov's mission is to change that.
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