Training teachers like ice skaters

Teachers should be trained like ice skaters, argues Mike Goldstein, founder of the very successful MATCH school in Boston. That means lots of “deliberate practice.” From Jay Mathews:

“A kid who practices 10 hours playing sloppy pick up basketball with his friends might develop less than a kid who has a focused two hours of practice with measurable, highly specific, small chunk feedback,” Goldstein told me in a long email. “Similarly, a rookie teacher who simply student teaches or acts as an assistant teacher might simply be repeating the WRONG moves.

“Deliberate practice means (1) specific & technique-oriented, (2) high-repetition, and (3) paired with immediate feedback which includes telling the novice what to do.

“That’s what we do: ‘Do X. Now you say it, right in front of me. Tone needs to be firm: do it again.’ High dosage feedback, after every day of student teaching. And feedback that is directive. Don’t say ‘Here’s 5 different ways you could try.’ Cut through that.”

Goldstein’s school recruits bright college graduates for its MATCH Corps. Most live in a dorm on the school’s top floor and serve as tutors for students who need more help.  Teacher training is scheduled for Friday, Saturday and the summer.  In interviews on the MATCH site here and here, two Corps members, graduates of Brown and Princeton, describe a typical 12-hour day of tutoring, grading, prep, parent phone calls and support duties. Teaching FTW (for the win) is a Match Corps’ veteran’s blog.

. . . “to develop an intuitive sense for how kids learn, we think 1,000 hours of sitting next to kids and tutoring, 1-on-1 or 1-on-2, is the way to go. This frees you from classroom management issues, and gets right to the heart of actual learning and learning breakdowns.”

The MATCH teacher trainees also practice classroom management using The Gateway, “simulated classroom environments with real kids executing coordinated small potatoes misbehaviors.”

Most MATCH Corps members go on to teach at “no excuses” charter schools.

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