Posts Tagged ‘Teach Like a Champion’

Emotion…Let’s Not.

This entry could also very easily be titled, “You Better Not Wait.” Considering that one teensy little blog post could merit TWO different titles clearly shows its importance! Right?

While reading more of Doug Lemov’s wisdom (because I am now a devotee of him), I came across a comment that felt like it had been ripped from the very pages of my personal diary (if I had one! hah!). He stated something along the lines of, “Any time I ever felt angry at a student for his/her behavior, I had allowed that bad behavior to continue too long.” To elaborate this, if you let a student “sort of” behave or halfway follow instructions what you communicate is that you only¬†deserve minimum effort. Furthermore, as a teacher you end up just waiting for them to break the rules more, further to a worse point that you believe merits actions. By the time you correct their actions, they think they can now get away with future murder and you are angry with them, despite just now giving out your first warning.

At the beginning of my first year I heard Annette Breux speak. She is a very magnetic lady and I’m sure wonderful to have as a classroom teacher. But she did give some really dud advice on one topic- misbehavior. She recommended ignoring misbehaving students because it was likely they just wanted attention. Now I’m no master teacher, but I strongly advise you to never put up with a single thing you aren’t okay with in your classroom. Students are not picking up on subtle ignoring hints, they are only picking up on “I can do this!” hints- which you are giving out if you are ignoring trouble.

Rotten Apple

Emotions are great…sometimes. It’s great to feel personal connections to students. It’s great to feel personal happiness in your occupation. It’s miserable to feel any emotions when it comes to classroom management. Discipline should not come out of frustration, anger, spite, etc. As a good teacher you need to be doling out impersonal corrections. Students aren’t mind readers, so don’t hesitate- you will just get mad.

In summation- NEVER wait on managing your class because you don’t want those frustrations to manage you.


No Opt Out

No Opt Out is a technique focused on making sure any student who is unable to answer a question or does not attempt to answer a question still ends up participating.

Visualize your classroom. Things are going reasonably well. Then you ask Hannah what a noun is. She looks at you confused. Her expression seems to convey “Who me?” She looks away passively and says, “I dunno.” You probably waffle between two actions here- force the question again, give it a try! Or you move on to another student and ask the same question again. This is a key moment– students will realize that saying “I dunno.” is the get out of jail free card for classroom discussion. The teacher cannot make you participate. No teacher likes to be Ben Stein in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off and that is where No Opt Out comes into play.

Ben Stein

bored student

In a No Opt Out Situation…

Teacher- Hannah, what is a noun?

Hannah- I dunno.

Teacher- (turning to another student) Roger, what is a noun?

Roger- a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea.

Teacher- Right. Hannah, what is a noun?

Hannah- a noun is a person, place, thing, or idea.

Notice that the question comes back to Hannah in the end. This is good for students who don’t know the answer, but are trying, perhaps just giving the wrong answer. The teacher is able to get the student to participate, but without the guesswork of, “Is she being defiant? Does she really not know? Am I embarrassing her if I press the question?”

Let’s talk worst case scenarios. Say Roger is no help. He doesn’t answer your question either. Don’t waste a second. Ask the class for a classroom chorale answer or answer it yourself. Then turn back to Hannah or Roger, ask them again. You have just given them the answer so there is very little gray room to sit silently.

As you can see with my fictional models, Hannah and Roger, No Opt Out is simple and empowering. The student ultimately participates, the class learns that no one is off the hook, and the end result always is a student answering a question correctly (which can be a confidence booster!).


No Opt Out is a technique which can be found in Doug Lemov’s Teach Like a Champion. For more formats of this technique, read his book! He is the man with the plan, I am simply a follower.

Giving Directions

I’m currently reading Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov. He has mad credentials (that I am too lazy to list) and works as a teaching consultant. Even in the introduction he caught my interest with useful tips. Usually you don’t get useful stuff in the introduction of the book, you get obligatory thank yous, inspirational sayings, etc. So starting off, I’m already impressed.

Doug Lemov understands that teachers can be pretty thick, just like students can be (yes, finally! Someone who does not overestimate my ability!) He stresses concrete guidance.

“When you want them to follow your directions, stand still. If you’re walking around passing out papers, it looks like the directions are no more important than all of the other things you’re doing. Show that your directions matter. Stand still. They’ll respond.”

It sounds so, so simple. However, who hasn’t tried to tell students what to do while also running around like Mrs. Frizzle on RedBull?

Stand still when giving instructions

  • You will speak more clearly- taking time to enunciate, giving a steady delivery rate, making eye contact with students
  • You will nonverbally imply that your words are important- stop and take notice!
  • You will be focused on if the class understands what to do, versus being unaware of confusion, or more likely, oblivious to your word vomit.

Teach Like a Champion

Doug Lemov-

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