Teaching can be taught, argues Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion. It’s not an innate gift. It’s a craft.
In a training session for inner-city London teachers, Lemov showed a video several times to analyze the strategies used by Ashley Hinton, a Newark elementary teacher, writes Ian Leslie in The Guardian.
. . . (Lemov) sees Hinton placing herself at the vantage points from which she can best scan the faces of her pupils (“hotspots”). He sees that after she first asks a question, hands that spring up immediately go back down again, in response to an almost imperceptible gesture from Hinton, to give the other children more time to think (“wait time”). He sees her repeat the question so that this pause in the conversation doesn’t slow its rhythm.
He sees Hinton constantly changing the angle of her gaze to check that every pupil is paying attention to whoever in the room is speaking, and silencing anyone who is not doing so with a subtle wave of her hand.
He sees her use similar gestures to gently but effectively recall errant students into line without interrupting her own flow or that of the student speaking at the time (“non-verbal corrections”).
He sees Hinton venture away from the hotspots to move down the sides of the class, letting her students know, with her movement, that there is always a chance she will be beside their desk in the next few seconds.
He sees that in one particular instance she moves toward a particular student while making it look to the rest of the class as if she is simply changing her perspective, so that she can correct his behaviour without embarrassing him – and he sees that she does so with the grace of an elite tennis player delivering a disguised drop shot.
Hinton smiles warmly and varies “the volume of her voice to convey enthusiasm for her topic,” Lemov points out. Her students “are utterly captivated, eager to pitch in with their own thoughts, avid for learning.”
She’s not leaping on desks like Robin Williams in Great Poets Society. Good teachers practice their craft, says Lemov.
“The myth of the magical teacher subtly undermines the status of teaching, by obscuring the extraordinary skill required to perform the job to a high level,” concludes Leslie. “It also implies that great teaching cannot be taught.”
Lemov links to more teaching videos on his Teach Like a Champion blog.