To create champion teachers, blend

Blended learning can create more champion teachers, writes Allison Akhnoukh in Education Next.

Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion shows what the teaching craft looks like when effectively mastered, she writes. But we don’t have “remotely close to enough” champion teachers “because the job we’re expecting our teachers to accomplish is superhuman.”

When a teacher can effectively utilize all 49 of Lemov’s techniques in perfect harmony, it is feat at which to marvel. Much more commonly observed, however, is the teacher trying heroically – yet unsuccessfully – to fully engage each of his 30 students in the lesson he stayed up half the night planning.

Blended learning lets teachers focus their energies on the most critical teaching tasks, Akhnoukh argues.


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  1. It would be far easier for average teachers (most teachers) to do a good job if students were grouped homogeneously. It’s ridiculous to expect teachers to handle kids spread over a 3-6 year span.

  2. Florida resident says:

    Dear “momof4” !
    I agree with you, assuming
    that you meant to say

    “kids spread over a 3-6 year span” with respect to their cognitive abilities,
    but not necessarily with respect to their actual age.

    Your F.r.

    • Yes, I was referring to their ability/preparation/motivation, although I am also in favor of acceleration – with some qualification re. age issues. Where there is a group accelerating together, bring it on.

  3. This sounds like an propaganda piece for Silicon Valley. Who pays Allison’s salary? Follow the money.

    I love this new bit of jargon, “blended learning”. What it means is, kids using educational software.

    I am sort of a fan of Doug Lemov. However, I must say he kind of ruined my year last year. I had decided to implement a lot of his strategies. The high-expectations, drill sergeant schtick wasn’t going over well with the kids in my regular public middle school. Then it dawned on me that all of Lemov’s examples are gleaned from no-excuses charter schools.. Of course! Those teachers can demand and get snappy performance b/c the school culture fosters that, and those who don’t get with the program can be “counseled” out. My district’s culture was way slacker. Teachers cajole, schmooze and silently suffer; they can’t get away with strict. So my students, unused to strictness, reacted negatively. I relented midyear, but by then many students had decided I was a mean teacher. This year I’m resigning myself to less efficient classes, fitting in better with the cultural norms of my district. It’s going better. I still think Lemov’s ideal is great, but a lot of cultural change has to happen for it to take root in most public schools.

    Lemov should put a disclaimer in his book that says that the basis for his prescriptions are extraordinary charter schools, not garden variety public schools.

    • Roger Sweeny says:

      Agreed. There may be a much deeper problem here.

      1. We say, “Academics are important. Very, very, very important. So important that young people should be legally required to do it 7 hours a day, 180 days a year, for 13 years .

      2. We don’t require kids to “get with the (academic) program.” Instead,
      “Teachers cajole, schmooze and silently suffer.” Lots of kids leave school academic failures.

      We know that a large proportion of students can’t be forced to really care about and do well in academics. If most jobs required high school academic skills and knowledge, it might be worthwhile to keep trying. And trying. And trying. But they don’t.

      A high school diploma is a cheap screening device for employers. Those who successfully navigate thirteen years of school are in general more “intelligent, conscientious, and conformist” than those who don’t. Yet damn little in the way of academics is used in most jobs.

      And when you consider everyone, it’s an expensive system. Older people pay lots of money for schools. Young people spend their youth and often become failures in other people’s eyes–and, sometimes, their own.

  4. Intriguing, gotta grab a copy of Teach Like a Champion. @ Ponderosa, thanks for pointing that out. Indeed, even with our best intentions there are still some factors that we need to consider before implementing a new technique/ system…