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Hussein El Haj Ahmad

1/5/2015

A Book Review of

Teach Like A Champion 2.0


62 Techniques that put students on the path to College
2nd Edition
By Doug Lemov forwarded by Norman Atkins
Published by Jossey-Bass (San Francisco, USA, 2015)
ISBN 978-1-118-90185-4 (paperback: 452 pages, 34.95 USD)
When I first read the title of this book, Teach Like A Champion 2.0, I was really eager
to read about the 62 techniques that Doug Lemov has discussed, and what can I implement in my
teaching process. Moreover, what attracted me most is the 75 teaching video clips included with
the book. Furthermore, the books first edition, published in 2010, was labelled the global best
seller on Amazon. The author is Doug Lemov; hes a managing director of the Uncommon
Schools (40 non-profitable public charter schools preparing low-income students to attend
universities). He taught history & English at the university, high and middle school levels. His
last degree was MBA from the Harvard Business School.
The main ideas of the book are: 1) Teaching is one of the most difficult jobs, and 2)
Teaching is an art that can be learned by mastering its tools or techniques. In this book, Lemov
did an impressive job in providing detailed explanation of his 62 techniques that teachers can
implement and improve their students success, engagement, focusing, and learning. He
organized all his notes by observing outstanding teachers in his Uncommon Schools; he divided
the techniques used into 4 parts arranged in 12 chapters within 452 pages. He said that there are
four core challenges of teaching: check for understanding, academic ethos, building ratios, and
classroom culture. In part 1: Checking for Understanding, Lemov mentioned that teachers
should be able to distinguish between I taught and They learned it. Teachers are challenged
to teach students mastery and ensure that its happening via targeted questioning and observing.
Furthermore, a teacher should build a culture of error that respects, normalizes, and values
learning from errors. Best techniques mentioned here are: Show Me (T5) where students are
pushed to exercise their own judgment of their peers answers, and Culture of Error (T8) where
students are given the strength to speak up about their mistakes and participate in correcting
them. In part 2: Academic ethos, the author set high standards to seek maximum level of
academic rigor depending on the contents depth. Diligent planning is necessary to set the stage
for productive class time. Lemov said, Its not OK not to try. Teachers should change the
students words I dont know into success. In this section, I liked No Opt Out (T11) where
students try repeatedly to answer a question he doesnt know by answering similar related
questions, and Stretch It (T13) where students are asked follow-up questions to successful
answers to let them experience that learning can never be done. In part 3: Ratio, the author
mentioned that teachers should maximize participation and think ratio through questioning,
writing, and discussing. This will increase the overall rigor of the student work and shift the
cognitive load from the teachers desk to the students. Finally, in part 5: Doug Lemov listed the
5 principles of classroom culture as Discipline, Management, Control, Influence &
Engagement. He referred to discipline as the process of teaching someone the right way to do
something and not to be punished. He motivates teachers to turn procedures into routines by
rehearsing and reinforcing until excellence becomes habitual. He ends up his book by stating that
teachers should have the right mix and balance between the five principles and a productive
culture depending on their styles and students.
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Hussein El Haj Ahmad

1/5/2015

I have noticed some limitations in this book. Most techniques are not new to experienced
teachers, and theyre applying them without giving names or classification such as asking
targeted questions, track and dont watch, affirmative checking, culture of error, circulate,
board=paper, every minute matters, everybody writes, strong voice, joy factor, and others.
Lemov mentioned in his book that teachers should have order in their classrooms to promote
academic learning & do far more than just eliminating disruptions. Thats true, but he didnt
mention any technique/video clip dealing with managing class disorders. Doug Lemov is biased
to the skills of his outstanding teachers because he derived his techniques by observing them. He
should have observed different teachers from different areas and schools to come up with
broader universal techniques. Another limitation for Lemovs book is that he classified his
teachers as champions according to their students results. He believes that anyone can apply his
techniques and be a champion in class. On the other hand, he ignored the curriculum content and
the passion of the teacher. Furthermore, teachers are not machines or robots just following some
techniques or orders. Lemov wrote that, What makes the champion teachers successful are a
core group of skills they are exceptionally good at even though they may have weaknesses in
their teaching. Thats why the video clips appeared to be condensed, as if students are effective
100% for the whole day. Students were motivated and very quiet with no struggling issues. In my
opinion, its excellent to demonstrate the techniques live, but it should be applied in a normal
class where teachers and students dont know that someone is videotaping. Lemovs video clips
looked like an advertisement for his model or company. This book is still new, and there are no
critique available. The first edition had some critics written on some blogs here and there but
nothing published in a known journal.
What I liked in this book is that its written in a simple language addressed to teachers to
refine their teaching techniques. Lemov is supportive in developing people and encouraging
teachers to see what is wrong in themselves and fix it, as he stated Invest in your weaknesses as
well as in your strengths. In addition, he added useful tools section in each chapter to give
examples of what to say during classes. I also believe that Lemov is changing Teach Like A
Champion into a business model by offering teachers training services, selling books and
DVDs, creating website, and being engaged in social media apps to communicate with educators.
At the end, I would recommend this book to teachers since it reflects an application of
different techniques for teachers to progress. Whether we like Lemovs techniques or not, hes
inventing a win-win situation by teaching kids of low-income areas and help them be university
graduates. Of course, new opportunities will be opened, and those kids will have better lives and
be better individuals in the society they serve in. There will always be a debate that good
teachers are born and not made, but I think they can still tune their own skills. At the end, as
educators, we need to pay attention while were applying the modern education because of its
restricted system: where no critical thinking has been reinforced.

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