When I first read the book, “Teach Like a Champion”, by Doug Lemov – I was unimpressed by its simplicity. It sounded like a beginning teacher primer and I thought I had little use for the resource because I already had decent “teaching chops”. After my first month back in the classroom (at a pretty disadvantaged school) I realized that my teaching chops needed a tune up. I was surviving in the classroom – but not thriving. In my search for resources – I rediscovered Lemov’s book sitting on the bookshelf.
The emphasis on routines and procedures have really helped establish a calm in my classroom. Not just the “how to do it”, but the hyper-consistency with which the routine is reinforced. I use an Entry Routine and a Do Now to distribute materials and get students ready for class – but more than anything, it sets the tone for the entire hour. Without this routine, chaos quickly ensues. I use the procedure on test days, sub days, half days, etc… it really signals to the students that this is a “business as usual” kind of day… that they know what to expect. This makes the class begin on my terms in a very calm and controlled way.
My Entry Routine: As students enter, they pick up a short current event reading. They are instructed to quietly read the article without getting up for anything (that includes pencil sharpening, getting supplies, asking questions, etc….) The goal is to simply grab the packet and read. When finished, they answer 4 reading comprehension questions about the news. At this point they can move to get supplies or pencils sharpened (this way it staggers students by when they finish the reading). As they work, I am roaming and giving feedback to students and having those quiet interactions that really sets the tone for the class. It also allows me to deal with any “surprises” since the Do Now takes about 10 minutes.
Lemov’s book may be centered on fundamentals – but it does a good job of focusing experienced teachers on articulated techniques to help us sharpen our practices. When I think about improving classroom culture or some other goal… Lemov’s book will not be overlooked. It has specific techniques to support my needs. My next goal is to try SLANT and warm/strict to improve student engagement/attention and a more positive classroom climate.