How to identify great teaching

I was recently reading about a researcher named Doug Lemov who followed up on a theory he had on schools and teachers. Lemov noted that generally you find the higher ranking schools in terms of academia correlate with the level of household income. i.e. The more money in the area the better scores the children get on exams which boosts the school’s ranking. It makes sense because wealthy people are first of all generally more educated themselves so they pass this on to their children plus they ensure their children get access to quality resources and tutors.

Effective classroom teaching
Lemov reasoned that schools in low income areas that score high academically must have exceptional teachers. Lemov spent time identifying and these schools and teachers. He then spent hundreds of hours sitting in the back of the classrooms even videoing to try and identify the common traits among these teachers that gave them their superior edge. The result was 49 Techniques for effective classroom teaching.

Effective teachers use systems
One example Lemov explained was actually very simple but powerful. In the classroom handing out sheets of paper for a study topic takes time and is usually disruptive while you wait for the sheets to go around and students to settle again. Lemov found that the effective teachers had a system for quick distribution so as to minimize disruption. Over the year these teachers from just this one technique would get an extra 8 days of teaching. While this may not seem overly significant over a year when you couple that with other time saving techniques its starts to really add up. Now times that by the number of years of school and these students really start to stand out.

Organised teachers get better results
The lesson here is being organised. An organised, structured system of teaching is the best thing you can do for your teaching. Your students will receive more actual learning time. The length of your lesson is not as important as the amount of time your students spend focusing and if your program is well structured they will absorb and learn at a faster rate.

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