Teach Like a Champion

Over the next few weeks, I will be delving into several different aspects of teacher professional development and performance, and ruminating on the applicability of these techniques to the Education in Emergency (EiE) and critically under-resourced developmental contexts. I came across the “Teach Like a Champion” approach (which I will call TLC for brevity sake) through a link from the Economist (June 2016), with the underlying theory that great teachers are not “born” but can “be made.” Doug is the Managing Director of Uncommon Schools, and has been very active in data-driven performance management in school systems in the U.S.

In making great teachers, Doug notes 49 different techniques that can be directly applied by teachers to improve student performance. These broadly follow:

  1. Setting high academic expectations
  2. Planning that ensures academic achievement
  3. Structuring and delivering lessons
  4. Engaging students in lessons
  5. Creating a strong classroom culture
  6. Setting and maintaining high behavior expectations
  7. Building character and trust
  8. Improving your pacing
  9. Challenging students to think critically

Across these 9 categories, teachers are then rated into: Emerging, Developing, Proficient, and Distinguished, across an extensive “Growth Guide” rubric. Incredibly detailed as a guide and rubric, the biggest question would remain the oversight of these techniques on a day to day basis in ensuring regularity and evenness of implementation in critically underserved contexts. If this guide could be distilled down into 3-4 subject areas, each with 2-3 critical, measurable rubric areas, it would be more feasibly implemented. In current form, I would struggle to see how something so exceedingly detailed and complex could be suitable for rich-world contexts. Simplicity and usability needs to guide the design and implementation of teacher professional development modalities in under-resourced contexts-thus, the main question is, what can we distill from these gold standard guidelines?