as part of my new role on a campus i have been going over a few books that were recommended to me to be up on what teachers on the campus and folks across the district have been reading. there was one that i had reade (the five dysfunctions of a team), one that i had heard lots about (the last lecture), one that i had flipped through (classroom instruction that works, marzano), and one that is ALL the buzz in HISD (teach like a champion). I read the last lecture and i can understand why many people saw it as inspiring given the context of the story, then i flipped though the 5 dysfunctions as it hasn’t been that long since i had read it entirely. the book i was most interested in reading was teach like a champion. it has been talked about in my district a lot for the past year and i had never given myself a reason to read it. i was glad it was included in the stack of books i received. i’m being 100% honest when i say this about the book: it frightened me. the idea of 49 techniques that put students on the path to success sounds great and there are a few strategies that i think work well in the classroom…however, the overwhelming message i got from reading the book and watching the dvd classroom clips is that the book is about control. i don’t believe the teacher should be the sole focus of the classroom and that they should expect to control the classroom. i believe the classroom is about shared ownership, collaboration and personal investment. i found myself watching the clips and thinking that the classrooms being shown were more about compliance and it bothered me. my feelings were further confirmed when i began to read the marzano book in earnest and i came across a line on page 8 that says
although the strategies presented in this book are certainly good tools, they should not be expected to work equally well in all situations
AMEN! where i saw teach like a champion providing rigid strategies that were almost always shown as whole group instruction and demanded student compliance, i was only 8 pages into the marzano book and it was already admitting that these are good ideas but you need to know who you are working with and recognize when to use the strategies. you may be saying that i’m only showing favor to the marzano book because the philosophy matches my own, but that is born out of years in the classroom. i am not the teacher who is going to say “SLANT” and expect all my students to quickly get in to rigid formation. i don’t believe that there is only one posture that students need to assume for learning. if you were working with a group of adults and walking in the room and yelled ‘SLANT’, what would your reaction be? why should we expect students to comply in this way if we would never even consider asking adults to?
perhaps some of my issue with teach like a champion is personal. i’m a non-conventional learner. i’ve spent most of my life teaching students who are non-conventional learners. i’ve had kids who need to doodle while they listen. i’ve had kids who prefer to think deeply about a topic before being drilled with answers. i’ve had kids who would wilt in the whole group, one-at-a-time environment that teach like a champion seems to portray.
i can’t wait to speak to the teachers on my campus to hear about how they have made use of these books.