“Sometimes our most rigorous intentions in the classroom are undone by a lack of attention to mundane details of how things should go right,” says Doug Lemov.
Speaking on the latest episode of Tes Podagogy, the author of Teach Like a Champion and teacher trainer explains that too often, teachers do not explicitly teach children routines for behaviour in the classroom.
“We get angry at students because we say ‘pay attention’ and then they don’t do what we asked them to – and then we shout at them – but in fact it is not clear whether anyone has actually taught them what it means to pay attention to someone in the classroom…those habits of discipline, knowing the right way of doing something, are critical to all the more sublime education outcomes that we seek.”
Routines for learning
Lemov details some of the routines that he advocates in the podcast, including "cold calling" and "tracking". These stem from his observations of expert teachers.
“A lot of the advice teachers have got traditionally has been ideologically driven,” he says. “My goal is to identify high-performing teachers and study them and describe and share what they do. So teachers can learn from teachers.”
His resulting advice has not always been positively received, but he feels that criticisms often stem from a lack of understanding about working in a school where students have a tougher start in life.
“Most often it is people who have grown up on the winning side of society, who have grown up in privilege, who don’t understand what schools look like for those who are not born to that privilege – they are the first to criticise structure and expectation in the classroom,” he says.
Lemov expands on this in the podcast, detailing more of the theory behind his work, and he also discusses the role of knowledge in learning to read, how to establish behaviour systems and how teachers need to be more appreciated.
“The best teachers are outstanding problem-solvers. They are some of the smartest and most important people in our society,” he says.
You can listen for free by downloading the podcast from iTunes or listening below. And you can watch the videos Lemov mentions here.