Over the past few weeks I’ve been reading, “Teach Like a Champion: 49 Techniques that Put Students on a Path to College” by Doug Lemov of “Uncommon Schools.” I’ve really appreciated this textbook of sorts as its interwoven two things I love, data supported methods that achieve student learning and the use of digital media to support student achievement (the book has a CD that shows recordings of the best-practices discussed being used in the classroom.)
With this in mind, I gave pause while recently reading a blog post by John Spencer of “Spencer’s Scratchpad” titled, “The 50 Essential Rules for Being an Amazing Teacher,” the script of which can be found below…
If you look close enough, you’ll see past the white-washed lies and realize that there are no formulas, no rules, no magic recipes. People will make a fortune selling snake oil to teachers in the guise of offering “resources.” Don’t get me wrong. We need to share stories and ideas. We need to be philosophical and practical. I subscribe to blogs where people share some great advice that has changed my approach to teaching. But if a man in a suit tries to convince you that the answer is in a system or a program, please run.
Did you get it? Initially I didn’t either until I read some of the comments, and realized the words were merely masked with some clever text coloration. The message is clear. There are lots of books, blogs, voices and resources sharing new lessons that “encourage student-inquiry” or “differentiate instruction easily” but ultimately the success of these methods and programs have a lot to do with the teacher’s ability to implement such kinds of curriculum, practices or classroom cultures. To believe that there is one (or forty-nine) “right ways” to be a stellar teacher and an ability or inability to implement such a way measures a teachers overall effectiveness is foolish.
What’s really important is that teachers continue to self-assess what works and doesn’t work in their classroom, find and implement the methods, styles, and best-practices that will fit their personalities, and work to improve, refine, or remove the practices and pitfalls that hurt and/or fail to improve student achievement. Belonging to a professional learning communities and more careful formative assessment analysis are just two ways this type of work can be done. How else do you assess your lessons, procedures and general practice? How have such assessments led to changes in your classroom?