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Not As Easy As It Looks

There’s been quite a bit of chatter about Steve Kerr’s decision to “let the warriors coach themselves” this week. (Coverage here and here)

I wanted to share a couple of thoughts.

This was a neat move. Giving players leadership and ownership over their endeavors, done right, can be very powerful. And Kerr spoke about wanting the players to feel more ‘ownership.’

But I think it’s also important to understand what happened and how. This is a powerful moment but one that is also easy to romanticize.

For example the phrase ‘let the warriors coach themselves‘ is a bit of an exaggeration. Kerr gave his players leadership–real leadership–in specific situations. McGee ran the video session. Iguodala, Green and West ran team huddles. Kerr and co strategically “stepped back” knowing they’d step in again and having carefully chosen the setting and maybe the players who were given extra responsibility. This was not ‘letting the group decide.’

Players also led aspects of team culture that they had seen modeled by Kerr and co many times before.  They knew how a Warriors huddle or a Warriors video session were supposed to operate and sound. They had been acculturated.

And most importantly Kerr had set the ground work. There’s very little way to do this kind of thing well without that so I want to describe what I think it means.

Kerr’s delegation of authority worked because he’d laid the groundwork by investing seriously in background knowledge and shared vocabulary. 

The players all understand Kerr’s system, his “game model” (thanks to Christian Lavers for this term). Every player knows this cold: Not just what their roles and responsibilities are generally but how they change when the team–I’m shifting to soccer terminology here–presses versus defends deep, say. ‘Coaching’ here means making strategic applications within a system they all know well.

They have shared technical vocabulary to allow them talk about it in very precise ways.

Having a precise shared vocabulary allows them to talk about the things they want to do and problem solve together.  They have words to describe exactly what they want to do. And they all know that the other players know these words and the concepts they refer to in a very precise and specific way.

It’s a perfect example, I think, of what Dan Willingham means when he says that critical thinking, reasoning and problem solving rely on and require knowledge that is encoded in long-term memory (and in the case of athletes shared in a systematic way so they all know that the others also know).

If you don’t have a clear sense for how we want to do things and don’t have shared vocabulary this is much less likely to work. Ironically, successful granting of autonomy is often a testament to the quality of the system.

And a lot of clubs haven’t spent enough time on things like curriculum and principles of play and shared vocabulary. They haven’t installed that knowledge in players’ long-term memory. Sometimes this is because they want to emphasize decision-making and problem-solving instead but ironically these are the things players need most to accomplish those thinking goals.

As Ian Barker put it: “The Kerr example should speak to empowerment, but also to the dedication and commitment of embedding the learning.”  He tells a story about another example of strong teaching allowing for autonomy:

“A team I know won two games in front of crowds that literally x100 times bigger than normal. The challenge was the typical coach interventions were not possible and could not be heard. However the team had massive amounts of shared experiences, recognized all manner of patterns, [&] had been well coached. When the coaches were effectively removed they did not drop in performance. They indeed exceeded previous levels.”

Empowerment starts with shared knowledge. This is important because some youth coaches might miss the steps Kerr and his players took to make something like his viable and succeed only in creating a vacuum and not autonomy.

The post “Steve Kerr Let The Warriors Coach Themselves.” appeared first on Teach Like a Champion.

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The language we use to help people know how to grow and improve is important.

When we give feedback, we’re giving technical information but we’re always also building culture between and among us at the same time.

I found myself thinking about language when I recently heard some coaching interactions on the youth sports field but these points are applicable, I think, to the classroom too.

Think for a moment about the phrase you don’t—as in:

“You don’t work hard to regain possession when you lose the ball.”

Compare it to the same phrase using didn’t instead of don’t:

“You didn’t work hard to regain possession when you lost the ball.”

(This could just as well be, “You don’t support your argument with evidence form the text” versus “You didn’t support your argument with evidence form the text.” Or “You don’t clear up after yourself” versus “You didn’t clean up after yourself.”)

Don’t‘ implies permanence. This thing that you did is something you always do. The language globalizes a mistake. Makes it part of you–a flaw. Maybe even hints at deliberateness. You don’t even care. You just do it.

‘Didn’t’ describes one time, an event. Could be that it’s an exception, even. You probably always do but you didn’t there. It’s a comment that expresses much more faith and belief in the person you are talking to.

But even didn’t talks focuses on the past–on what went wrong. While that can be useful it’s often not as useful as focusing on the solution. It reminds me of something Seahawks coach Pete Carroll says in describing his practice philosophy:

“We’re really disciplined as coaches to always talk about what we want to see, the desired outcome, not about what went wrong or what the mistake was. We have to be disciplined about how we use our language. We always talk about the next thing you can do right. It’s always about what we want to have happen.”

So compare: “You don’t/didn’t work hard to regain possession when you lost the ball.”

To: “You must always work hard to regain possession when you’ve lost the ball.”

Or: “We must work hard to regain possession when we’ve lost lost the ball.”

Or even: “Every single one of us must work hard to regain possession when we’ve lost the ball.”

These are not statements that lack urgency or accountability. They are not “soft.” But they avoid globalizing a mistake into a flaw and they focus on the future. They answer the question: What’s the next step on the path up the mountain?

Now think about how you could upgrade even a bit more, to phrases that are deliberately aspirational or motivating:

“A player of your quality must work hard to regain possession when you’ve lost the ball. Every time.”

Now I am giving a player constructive or even critical feedback but in a way that expresses my faith in him or her.

There are other ways to do this:

“Where you’re going you must always work hard to regain possession. Every time you’ve lost the ball.”

Or: “Where we’re going we must always, everyone of us, work hard to regain possession when any one of us has lost the ball. We cannot cheat our teammates or ourselves. Start again from where you lost that ball…”

To TLAC readers these observations will probably recall the Positive Framing technique–the idea that it’s not so much about balancing critical feedback with praise so much as it is about using language that makes it clear that our critical feedback is an act of faith and respect for a person we think is worthy of it. The more we can remind recipients of our feedback of this, the better they’ll get and the more we’ll build relationships–in the short run (by making people feel respected) and in the long run ) because as James Clear recently put it, “The most effective form of motivation is progress” and when people hear our words free from the distraction of judgment and doubt and can focus exclusively on what they tell them about how to get better… when they feel the faith we express in them and their efforts to improve, then they use our advice better and more quickly. They improve and see the difference. And they come back asking for more.

The post Coaching Words: You Don’t, You Didn’t, You Must, You Will, We Will appeared first on Teach Like a Champion.

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Radar is out term for your capacity to see your class accurately for what it is. It’ a critical teaching skill. Decision-making always starts with perception- the more accurate the perception the better the decision.

The psychologist David Berliner has studied this among teachers and found that novice teachers observing a classroom often fail to perceive them accurately. They see random or illusory details. Veterans literally see the room see more accurately. This is a key part of their expertise.

A related skill is something we call Be Seen Looking. The idea is that being observed changes people’s behavior.

This short blog post and video show pretty clearly how that works.

If you can use understated nonverbal moves to subtly remind students that you are aware of their decisions in the classroom, they will likely choose more wisely and more productively.  You will keep off task behavior from happening.

To have some fun with this idea we often name the non-verbals teachers use for this “Dance Moves” because, well, you’ll see why in a minute.

Want to see some examples?  [Of course you do.]  Want to see them in high school classrooms in particular???

You got it.  Here’s a short montage of Denarius Frazier and Sadie McCleary rokcing two great moves.  Denarius is using the disco finger. Sadie is using the QB (or quarterback)

BSLDanceMoves2018Sampler - Vimeo

BSLDanceMoves2018Sampler from TLAC Blog on Vimeo.

To use the Disco Finger, a teacher traces the track of his or her gaze with an outstretched finger- a bit like one of the killer disco moves you may recall using back in the day.

It intimates, “Let me just check all of these places; let me just make sure everyone’s on point.” And it makes your scanning obvious to those who are least likely to notice it (but maybe would benefit from it most).

Anyway, notice the casual understated elegance of Denarius’ Disco Finger. Just a hint offers the reminder. You don’t need or want to over do it. Especially with high school students.

On the other hand he also adds a wrinkle to his disco finger, making its movement peak a bit to suggest that he is looking every where- especially perhaps the back of the class.

To use the Quarterback, a teacher makes like an NFL quarterback (QB), who crouching behind center, scans the defense so she understands what’s about to happen. This let’s you confer with individual students while keeping an eye on the whole team.

That’s what Sadie is doing here. She’s having an extended conversation with a student in her Chemistry class. She keeps the conversation going but adds a few scans along the way to keep an eye on everyone else at the same time. And so they know she’s keeping a weather eye out.  Again, prevention beats cure.

Notice she’s turned her body to face the rest of the room.  Then she offers a few gentle and low-key reminders to students to persist. It’s good to catch it early- to make the fix before it’s a fix and while it’s still really a reminder.  Sadie’s tone is perfect too.  As quiet and supportive as possible, it directs them to the thing to do as opposed to describing the thing to avoid doing.

Her student in the back row gets the attention she needs but everyone else remains accountable and on-track.

Ok, people. Get out there and use those moves.

The post Honing Those Teacher ‘Dance Moves’ appeared first on Teach Like a Champion.

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In TLAC 2.0 I tried to describe some of the tiny little things that top teachers do that create a ton of learning value in their classrooms.

One of them is the ‘self-interrupt‘… a tool for making sure you aren’t trying to talk over students when it matters, and for gently setting the expectation that you won’t compete for attention when there’s a direction or explanation everyone really needs to hear.

Here’s how I described it in the book:

In some cases, you may need to stop in order to start—that is, start a sentence and break it off to show that you will not go on until you have full attention. Using this method, the self-interrupt, makes the fact that you are stopping obvious. A champion teacher would likely execute his self-interrupt in the middle of a word, as in “Sixth grade, I need y—” This makes the break more striking and calls more attention to it.

Adding some formal posture to your self-interrupt makes it stronger. Right after you break, move to a more formal posture and hold it, still, for a second or two. If you are in the middle of a movement, you also might consider freezing and holding your pose for a second. To up the listening ante, another smart move is to drop your voice a little lower right after your self-interrupt.

I thought I’d share a perfect example of the self-interrupt from Brittany Rumph’s Kindergarten classroom.at Rochester Prep:

BRumph.SelfInterrupt - Vimeo

BRumph.SelfInterrupt from TLAC Blog on Vimeo.

Some notes:

The Why:  Brittany is giving a critical direction to the class about what they’re going to do next. If they don’t hear it, their time is wasted and students get lost. It’s a good time to make sure everyone is attentive.

There’s a student in the back with his hand up to ask about something unrelated. Not a mortal sin but it’s still important that he listen.  Plus he’s starting to talk to his classmate.  Now two scholars aren’t going to hear the directions, and Brittany risks sending the message that it’s ok to chatter away when she’s explaining what’s next.

The How: In mid-direction she notices the off-task scholar, breaking her phrase mid-word: “We’re gonna op-….” That’s the self-interrupt. It’s unexpected. Abrupt. It signals that she needs attention before she goes on in the quickest and least invasive way. Everyone becomes alert that something needs fixing. But now she’s got to be fast! And she’s got to not direct attention to the distraction- you can’t fix a distraction by creating a bigger or longer one.

So she adds some other tools to her self-interrupt- a little square up–i.e. faces the scholar in question. A little formal posture. A non-verbal to remind him to be in learner’s position listening carefully and then to put his hand down. Older students might get the break in her directions and understand right away to fix it. Little ones need a little more.  But the whole time she’s warm, smiling.  There’s a little nod of affirmation. And then as soon as it’s fixed she’s back to teaching in her bright clear teaching voice. All is well.

That’s how it works- a tiny little thing that self-interrupt but in the hands of a teacher like Brittany it can be a sure tool for keeping everyone attentive.

The post Tiny Things To Make You Successful: Brittany Rumph Models the Self-Interrupt appeared first on Teach Like a Champion.

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Every once in a while, you come across an example of a teacher using a technique in the classroom that captures almost everything you wanted to say about it- Why a teacher would use it. How. It’s a case study in how to apply a tool to advance learning and it pushes your understanding of the idea even a little more- you see it and think: Yes, that’s what I was trying to describe all along, even if you never quite did. You see it and you say: “Yes. That’s it.”

That’s how I felt last week when I watched this clip of Denarius Frazier using No Opt Out in his Geometry class at Uncommon Collegiate High School so I wanted to share it right away. It’s kind of a No Opt Out master clip.

UCH-304.Frazier.NOO - Vimeo

UCH-304.Frazier.NOO from TLAC Blog on Vimeo.

Some notes:

  1. Denarius sets the purpose. They are setting out to prove that a given quadrilateral is not a square. Having done that he starts with a bit of retrieval practice, asking Aaron, via Cold Call, what the definition of a square is. This is a great time to both encode key concepts in long-term memory. The Cold Call is also great here. It’s an invitation ot a real conversation to Aaron and so he’s not rattled by it. But Denarius has gotten a good sense for the level of understanding of a typical student in class is–as opposed to the students who raise their hands to tell him-they are always more likely to know–and by Cold Calling at the outset he’s making it predictable and building incentives to be engaged.
  2.  His student’s answer is solid but incomplete. Instead of filling in the blanks of Aaron’s answer himself and rounding up, Denarius notes that it’s a solid start but incomplete. This is nice positive framing. 80% correct gives Aaron credit for what he’s done but makes the line between that and full credit clear.
  3. Denarius then asks Anastasia to fill in the gaps. She gives a definition that is 100% complete. He of course could have given the definition but it’s better coming from a classmate-Kids demonstrating knowledge and making classmates smarter is a good thing.  Plus it’s retrieval practice for Anastasia too.
  4. Now the No Opt Out: back to Aaron to ask him for the answer to make sure he’s got mastery now.  But there’s a wrinkle.  Instead of just saying: What’s the definition of a square, Denarius brilliantly asks: “What’s the difference?”  In other words he asks his student to attend to the difference between what he said and what was fully correct.  Denarius even prompt his student to make sure he described both of the things he left out of his answer. Some meta-awareness mixed with retrieval practice and high standards.
  5. Denarius doesn’t make a fuss over the improvement. He’s appreciative and warm but it’s clear that he expects mastery of his students. But he also validates Aaron’s work by applying it. The video ends with his voice dropping into a quieter, almost suspenseful tone: “How can we prove that this is not a square…”  Subtext: we are going to honor that much-improved definition by applying it right away.

Anyway, it’s a beautiful clip. Tidy, positive, productive.  I love especially how Denarius returns to his student for the No Opt Out & asks him to narrative the difference between his first answer and the ideal.  I’ve never seen that quite so clearly and perfectly before.

By the way if you like the idea of No Opt Out here is another great example.

The post A Masterful No Opt Out by Denarius Frazier (video) appeared first on Teach Like a Champion.

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A Willingness to Experiment is the Sign of a Healthy School Culture

Got an email from a colleague this morning who’s using TLAC techniques in his school. He’d recently come to our “Ratio” training, which focuses on how to make more classrooms where students do the cognitive work and was now doing training and support for teachers back at his school. (If you’ve come to our workshops you know they use the Train the Trainers model–our goal is to prepare you to lead aligned training that’s embedded int he culture and systems your own school once you get home).

The story he told was quite revealing.

“I modelled a high ratio science lesson,” he wrote, “Lots of writing – write/discuss/rewrite and retrieval practice DoNow). Faces were skeptical.”

The next day, I went to observe a couple of teachers, who had gone home and reworked the lesson they had planned. They gave it 100% despite not being convinced. The lessons were great. The teachers were buzzing at the end, and the students liked it too.”

I love this story because it reveals so much about a successful culture: His teachers were willing to try ideas even if they were skeptical of them.  That suggests a culture of trust that probably runs both ways.

A great message from a leader in the face of skepticism is: “If you are successful I won’t insist that you to use something that you don’t think works. I trust you to decide. But I do think it’s reasonable for you to give it a try–a full-effort trial–before you decide it won’t work. So you be willing to run the experiment and I’ll trust your results” (so long as things look good in your classroom). They trust him that they will have appropriate autonomy and he trusts them that they will give the ideas full consideration before they decide.

I also think that just maybe you can build up a larger culture that thinks this way though making this the focus of a series of interactions around feedback. People often say: “Oh that won’t work” or “The students will never do that.” But you never know til you try.  So if we can build a culture where you agree to try and i agree to let you decide based on a fair trial it’s easy for me to give you the space to make decisions- it’s an evidence based relationship.

And in my friend’s case it’s doubly impressive because the teachers changed their minds. The trial overcame their initial skepticism and I think that say a lot about them. Lots of people enter a trial not so much looking to learn but looking to have their initial hypothesis proven right.  It says a lot about this group of teachers that they let the experiment surprise them.

Perhaps not coincidentally, they were science teachers.

(By the way another thing i love here is writing-intensive lessons in the sciences.)

Finally it makes me happy that the ideas were sufficient to change their minds. I respect skepticism and we often think before our workshops- i f we can’t convince an reasonable skeptic that its worth trying then we’re not doing our jobs.

Anyway, thanks to my colleague who sent this in and to all the people who keep my team and me up-to-date how they are using and applying TLAC and Reading Reconsidered material and what they are learning about it.

The post They Were Skeptical But They Agreed to Try appeared first on Teach Like a Champion.

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One Benefit of an Ungraded Classroom

There’s a guy named Mike Barnes who’s got a column in Ed Week. It’s all about imagining a world in which we did not grade students at all.

Here’s the gist:

If you’re interested in disrupting education far more than the 3-D printer or smartphone ever could, consider schools and colleges where there are no grades. Imagine classrooms where teachers never place numbers, letters, percentages, or other labels on students’ work; where report cards don’t exist; and where the GPA has gone the way of the dinosaur,

Read quickly, friends- in just a moment he is going to ask us to close our eyes and imagine the more humane world this will bring about.  Practically a Utopia

The problem is that when I close my eyes and imagine a world without GPAs and reports cards and tests (duh, obviously we’d get rid of the tests) I don’t see Utopia. I see aristocracy.

Then I open my eyes, because even with deep breathing ideas like this are deeply stupid

Among other reasons there’s the fact that there will always be scarcity, and that means not everyone will get the best opportunities. (Everyone wants their kids to go to top universities, not everyone can. Sorry.) So you have to have some way to sort it all out. 

Meritocracy is the best way to do that, and meritocracy requires valuation.

When there is no grounds to judge, the elites will win all the perquisites. This is to say that when meritocracy disappears, aristocracy returns.

And aristocracy won’t be any better if it’s an aristocracy of elite progressives.

But that is partly what’s behind starry-eyed (and immensely popular) dreams like ‘let’s imagine a word with no grades.’  An argument like this is the luxury of caste- you only propose it if you are already in the elite.

When you eliminate evaluations you eliminate mobility. When you are already in the privileged class, this means cementing your place at the top whether or not you hide that fact behind egalitarian sounding aphorisms and ideology.

Anyway, please do not be fooled. Dreamy promises of ungraded Utopias are, in the end, dreamy promises of aristocracy.

The post Utopia and Other Aristocracies appeared first on Teach Like a Champion.

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Students at Memphis’ Freedom Prep

We’ve spent this past year working with Freedom Prep, a network of 4 high-performing schools in Memphis.

The goal  for us is to help them take their program to the next level, and the journey has been a rich one- the team at Freedom Prep are dedicated, smart and insightful and their schools are bright, warm, welcoming places with strong academic cultures where students are prepared for college. So while we  hope we’ve helped them assess their schools’ needs, plan top-quality PD and refine their tools for improving teachers, we also know we’ve learned a lot.

One example of that is this video of math teacher Jasmine Howard, which demonstrates what we think is really first rate Checking for Understanding.

EA.CFU.GR8.Howard.'College bound.'Clip2749 - Vimeo

EA.CFU.GR8.Howard.’College bound.’Clip2749 from TLAC Blog on Vimeo.

In the video below Jasmine has added a question into her lesson just before before independent practice specifically to assess whether students are ready to work productively on their own.

Independent practice is hugely important but only if students know enough to do most of the work successfully.  So Jasmine here sets out with the mindset that part of her lesson design to to allow herself to gather real time data on student mastery and use it to make decisions- even before the lesson has ended.

Once she’s assigned the problem, Jasmine starts circulating intentionally and methodically.

She’s not just giving students individual feedback and encouragement but she’s gathering data on who is where in terms of progress.  You can’t necessarily see it here–we edited the video for length–but she gets to every student in the class in just a few minutes, in part because she has Standardized the Format (technique #3 in Teach Like a Champion) and this has made her observation efficient.

Next Jasmine stops, calls the class together and reviews briefly.  She gathers data one more time, this time using ‘hand signals’–a version of the Show Me technique (Technique #5 in Teach Like a Champion) where students present objective data to the teacher in unison to double check how many students got the problem correct.

Most of the class has solved the problem so she know the right move is to push ahead with more challenging work done independently.  But… what’s best for most of the class may not be best for all of the class. While most students need the challenge of next steps a few students are struggling, so as Jasmine sends the class off to independent practice she says, “If i need you I’ll tap you for my back group.”

As she circulates around the room she subtly taps four students’ desks, calling them to the back table for extra help.  The majority of students get the practice they need while a small group that’s having trouble gets extra support from her

Her instruction breaks down the original problem into component parts they practice each in simple form before adding complexity.  But even then gathering and assessing data is a critical part of what Jasmine is doing.

My colleague Darryl Williams, who is leading the work our team is doing with Freedom Prep described it this way:

When working with her small group, Jasmine inserts specific points in the lesson where students must get confirmation that their work is correct before moving on. Jasmine says, “Look at function 1, and circle your rate of change.” As she looks at each scholars’ work for accuracy, she says “perfect” for each and then says, “Now, in the table, find your rate of change.” This Affirmative Checking allows her to gather data on how her scholars are progressing towards mastery while also ensuring that they will be truly prepared for more rigorous/complex work. Her goal is to send scholars back into their independent practice with the confidence and skills necessary to achieve mastery.

Perhaps what’s most noticeable is the tone and culture int eh room.  Jasmine is calm and supportive with her strugglers. There’s a Culture of Error (technique 8) in the room where in it’s safe to be wrong and therefore student comfortably discuss their errors with the teacher.  And of course there’s also a culture of mutual respect. No one giggles or judges when four students are called to the back table.  She’s established that some get called to the back table for extra help and some for extra challenge and everyone will be back there for one or both during the year- so life goes on a normally as could be- each student gets what they need and misunderstandings are caught and address right away- before the lesson is even over.All of this only happens because the classroom is warm, orderly, safe, structured and academic.

It’s impressive work from Jasmine and I’m proud to share it with teachers who I know will adapt and borrow her ideas.

The post How Freedom Prep’s Jasmine Howard Checks for Understanding appeared first on Teach Like a Champion.

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A classroom in Cameroon, ASHIA replacing SLANT.

This year I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with Dee Hertzberg and Audrey Spencer, who help direct teaching programs for the Peace Corps in Africa. They use Teach Like a Champion there and this has led to a series of amazingly useful conversations about education in Africa, sure, but also about teaching and learning more broadly- the stories they share useful to educators everywhere and so having shared one post recently about gender equitable teaching, I thought I’d share two more.

The first is this reflection written by Kathleen Nelson, who teaches math in Liberia. Her good humor about the challenges of teaching is positively graceful: “Like many classrooms across Liberia, mine is what you might call ‘spatially challenged,'” she notes.  This refers to having seventy students in her class and little room to move.

But she’s also brilliant about describing the small moves she makes in her teaching and how they change the classroom, her relationships, and in the end help her to achieve the sorts of successes that made her want to teach in the first place.

For example, she puts her desks in rows to make the space more orderly and to let her circulate more and finds:

Being able to walk up and down the aisles of desks has helped me get to know my students, their abilities and more importantly, how best to encourage their talents….

I love that line.  A little bit of structure helps her to be more intentional about how she interacts and as a result she finds a student whose journey she had missed:

Like me, she is never the first to raise her hand (if she raises it at all). She is quiet, well-behaved and dedicated to her work. In a class of seventy, some are more eager than others to share their knowledge, she’s easy to overlook. Taking the time to stop and glance over her work revealed a young woman with such great potential to succeed in mathematics and there our journey began.

Ultimately the connection she builds in giving the student encouragement leads her to boldly come to the board and solve a math problem. Kathleen sees in the end, just possibly, a different vision of what she can offer her girls, and all her students.

It’s beautifully written and a case study in how small changes in how we do what we do can change the world for our students- and just maybe remind us of how much is within our span of control.

You can read it here: https://www.peacecorps.gov/liberia/stories/finding-your-champion/

I also wanted to share a story and some pictures that Audrey shared.  She was describing their work in Cameroon and how important it was to have structures–procedures and routines–to help students succeed.  They liked the idea of SLANT but decided to adapt it to the Cameroonian context.

They decided to call it “ASHIA” instead.  Ashia is a Cameroonian pidgin term that can be used interchangeably to convey greeting, respect, thanks or even blessing,, like a “bless you” when someone sneezes. It most directly correlates to the term struggle or suffer, which in the Cameroonian context could be similar to the way Americans would frame “persist” or “try”. You might here someone say, “Ashia, sister” as an icebreaker or to show caring.

As I’ve written about often in this blog, I love it when educators take the ideas in TLAC and adapt them to local context or personal approach.  They are supposed to be tools that serve the goals of teachers, and I think this is a beautiful example of how a tools is made better by being adapted.

For fun, here are a few snapshots from Cameroon:

First, here’s a picture of a training session for teachersm showing the techniques the leadership team has selected to focus on.  ASHIA is at the top but it’s combined with lots of other great tools that you’ll probably recognize.

Next here’s a picture of the ASHIA bulletin board in one classroom. It’s distinctive and universal.  A Cameroonian adaptation but the display could be in almost be any classroom anywhere.

The post Two Tales from Peace Corps Africa–But Useful for Teachers Everywhere appeared first on Teach Like a Champion.

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I’m a huge fan of Barron Ryan– and not just because he plays a classy elegant kind of piano jazz. Though you should check him out playing  Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough if you’ve never heard him.

No, I’m a big Barron Ryan fan because he’s one of the most reflective musicians I know on the topic of practice and, since reading Practice Perfect, he’s been in pretty consistent touch with Katie and Erica and me about what he’s leaning in striving to ‘get better at getting better.’

A few weeks ago he sent along this video blog in which he describes how he uses and adapts three of the ‘rules’ from Practice Perfect–Make a Plan, Measure Success and Name It–as a concert pianist.  It’s one of the best things ever.

Original Video - Vimeo

Original Video from TLAC Blog on Vimeo.

Katie and Erica and I have learned a lot from talking to Barron over the years so it’s not surprising that the observations he makes in the video are pretty amazing- the idea that he plans out a whole week in advance and measures his practice as a tool to monitoring it, for example. But my favorite insight might just be this one:

I didn’t realize how effective naming my practice techniques could be even though I don’t have to communicate them to anyone else. Naming allowed me to much more efficiently use a practice journal … and to prescribe how I practice.

As an added bonus Barron shared an example of both his Practice Schedule and his Practice Journal.

Here’s the Schedule: (pdf here: Practice Schedule )

And here’s the Journal (pdf: Don’t Stop Journal)

I thought the documents were fascinating and useful. And they raised a bunch of further questions for me that Barron graciously answered in this second video where he goes deep on how he uses his schedule and his journal. It’s pure gold for any musician or coach or… well anyone who wants to think seriously about practice.  Seriously.

Supplement Video - Vimeo

Supplement Video from TLAC Blog on Vimeo.

To listen to Barron discuss practice is to understand that it’s not just whether you practice or how much you practice but how smart you practice and just possibly how much you can learn to love practice that drives your results.

A favorite moment for me was the smart but playful way he names his practice methods–“voice immodulation” and “snake.”

By now you’re probably dying to hear Barron play…. here he is doing “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” …. great practice yields great music…

Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough (Piano Cover) - Vimeo

Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough (Piano Cover) from Barron Ryan on Vimeo.

Last thoughts:

Here’s a link to the post on random practice he mentions.

Here’s how to follow Barron:

And by all means please post your questions and comments for Barron below

The post Practice Gold–Pianist Barron Ryan Reflects on Practice appeared first on Teach Like a Champion.

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