Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Doug Lemov’s Tips for Teachers

A few notes from Econtalk’s interview with Doug Lemov, founder of Uncommon Schools, who gives several practical tips on how to be a better teacher.Since we all find ourselves “teaching” sometimes, I’d like to see these tips applied more to business presentations too:

  • "At bats": Like baseball batters, who practice over and over, make sure your audience applies your instructions over and over, not just until they get it correct once or twice.
    • How deeply you know something is more important for getting to the next level than whether you “know it” or not. You must review, practice until something becomes intuitive, not just till you pass a test
    • e.g. You learn vocabulary words by understanding the distinctions with synonyms, not just the meanings
  • "cold calling": the teacher tells everyone in the classroom to prepare the answer, then asks one student at random
    • students know they are on call the entire lecture, so they have to pay attention
    • If the person called says "I don't know", you follow up with more questions till they get it.
  • "Call and response": Turn your questions into a game a al Rock Paper Scissors. Everyone answers the question at once (e.g. by raising a number of fingers signifying their answer to a multiple choice question)
    • Now you know how many in your class really understood -- and you can adjust accordingly
    • Technology can help too if everyone answers a quiz on their smart phone.

These and dozens of other practical tips are available in Lemov’s book Teach Like a Champion. Definitely worth checking out.