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Teach Like a Champion

49 techniques that put students on the path to college.

Teach Like a Champion offers effective teaching techniques to help teachers, especially those in their first few years, become champions in the classroom. These powerful techniques are concrete, specific, and are easy to put into action the very next day. Training activities at the end of every chapter help the reader further their understanding through reflection and application of the ideas to their own practice. The book also includes twenty-five video examples of real teachers modeling the techniques in the classroom.

Among the techniques:

  • TECHNIQUE 1: NO OPT OUT.“I don’t know” is cause for action. When a student begins by being unable or unwilling to answer, strive to get them to the right answer as often as possible.
  • TECHNIQUE 7: 4 MS.The four criteria for an effective lesson plan objective: Manageable, Measurable, Made first, and Most important.
  • TECHNIQUE 18: CHECK FOR UNDERSTANDING.While you teach, constantly assess what your students understand. Correct misunderstandings as quickly as you can.
  • TECHNIQUE 22: COLD CALL.Call on students regardless of whether they’ve raised their hands.
  • TECHNIQUE 30: TIGHT TRANSITIONS.Maximize time and energy for learning by instilling tight routines for transitioning from one class activity to another.
  • TECHNIQUE 39: DO IT AGAIN.Give students more practice when they’re not up to speed—not just doing something again but doing it better, striving to do their best.
  • TECHNIQUE 46: JOY FACTOR.Celebrate the work of learning as you go.


How did you come to write this book?
The book is my best effort to describe not what theory says you should do to “win” in the classroom—especially in the toughest ones—but what the very best teachers actually do. In my view, these are the champion teachers who take kids of poverty and reliably make high achievers out of them. To write Teach Like a Champion I watched thousands of classes and videos of classes taught by teachers with incredible results, and I put everything I thought I saw them doing through the “Monday Test.” If I felt it wasn’t something I (or you) could do at 8:25am on Monday morning, it was out.

Ultimately, teachers whom I watched and learned from, the unacknowledged heroes, are the true authors of the ideas in the book. To the degree that they inspire you, thank them. By the way, that’s two of them, Bob Zimmerli and Kelli Ragin, on the book’s cover.

“Great teachers are born, not made…” You obviously disagree with this statement—please tell us why.
A few teachers may be born with an intuitive gift for teaching but I when I watch a great teacher I see mostly hard work and attention to detail. So believe that great teachers can be made. Every teacher can improve by using proven, concrete techniques in the classroom. This question brings to mind two amazing teachers I know—Julie Jackson and Colleen Driggs. Julie and Colleen are always doing things like reviewing their lesson plans on the way to work and talking with peers about how to improve their craft. It’s exciting to me that what we may attribute to natural talent is actually hard work. You can choose to work hard and improve and become exactly the teacher you want to be.

What’s the best way for a teacher to start the year with a new class?
It’s important to build systems and routines, as I describe in chapter six, “Setting and Maintaining High Behavioral Expectations” in Teach Like a Champion. The first day of school should be teaching students the right way to do things and practicing this over and over. Learning and practicing these systems and routines allows a teacher and her students to rely on this foundation for the rest of the year.

I once witnessed Dave Levin (who is a founder of KIPP schools and a fantastic teacher) begin a teacher-training workshop in an interesting way. Dave started by handing a mirror to every teacher in the room. He said, “Your classroom is a mirror. It looks however you make it look. The first step is to believe that your classroom mirrors your decisions. You can control it.” That’s the first step. To accept that as a teacher you decide who you want to be and how you want to create your classroom culture. You own it.

If you could just change one thing in our nation’s schools, what would you change?It’s important that we do everything possible to support teachers so that they love their work and can be successful in the classroom. In my opinion, teachers should get paid the same as professional athletes or film stars.

The Book on Barnes & Noble , Indie Bound , BAM , Amazon , or Jossey-Bass
The Audio Book on Amazon
The E-Book for iPad , Kindle , Google Play , or Kobo

Teach Like a Champion is now available in these languages:
(Click for link to publisher)
Portuguese - Spanish - Dutch - Arabic - Russian - Korean - Simplified Chinese - Orthodox Chinese
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