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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

What Makes A Good Teacher?

You must listen to this interview.

The drive to improve the quality of the nation's teachers is as important as raising test scores and ensuring that more students graduate from high school. But what makes a good teacher? Some say smaller classes, good discipline and engaged students. Doug Lemov is managing director of True North Public Schools in New York. He describes what he's learned through his extensive work looking at teachers who succeed.

Behind every artist is an artisan, this is the story of game changing teachers. Great teachers deliver instruction without belittling students.

Some teachers are naturals, they use non-verbal gestures to communicate while they lecture, they create a learning environment. They engage their students with specific, understandable directions with observable result. Teachers must have profound knowledge of their subject in-order to gain respect. Kids smell phony a mile away. You must have genuine enthusiasm.

Mr. LEMOV: Managing Director of Uncommon Schools in New York. There are a couple of things that Maryanne is saying that I think are really compelling, and that I see when I watch great teachers in the classroom. And one thing, you know, Maryanne said, I don't discipline. And one thing that we see about great teachers is that they manage to make the discipline they do invisible by catching it early. One of the things we tell teachers in training is if you're mad, you waited too long. That a gentle correction and a reminder to a student before it gets serious is the best and most - you know, is the best and most constructive thing to do.

The second thing is that, you know, my book, actually, is not just about classroom management. It's actually about great teaching techniques, because you can't have one without the other. That we actually define discipline in the book as teaching kids the right way to do something, and that the most likely reason why kids aren't doing what you ask them to, if they're not, is that you haven't taught them.

But beyond that, there has to be something for kids to say yes to. You have to engage them in a lesson with real content and real teaching. So half the book is actually about the teaching techniques that Maryanne's talking about that are, you know, questioning techniques. And one of the techniques, for example, is called stretch it. Which is, you know, when a student - many teachers, when a student gets an answer right, they say right or good. And that's the end of the conversation. And actually, I argue that the reward for getting it right should be another question, a stretch it question that pushes you to engage even more rigorously. And that sets the expectation that, you know, more learning is the reward for achievement. - Doug Lemov

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