Teaching in the Online Classroom: Surviving and Thriving in the New Normal
by Doug Lemov and the Teach Like a Champion Team
Jossey-Bass, 2020, $19.95; 192 pages.
IN THIS AGE of ever-increasing polarization, it wouldn't surprise me if Teaching in the Online Classroom gets ensnared in a debate about education reform or compared to the caricature critics paint of instruction in high-performing charter schools. But that diversion would miss so much of what the book has to offer and what its talented team of editors and authors have done from their perch at Teach Like a Champion to elevate the craft of teaching in this time of unprecedented disruption in our schools.
Teach Like a Champion is an initiative run by Doug Lemov and a team of educators who research, analyze, and share the practices of effective teachers. The project is affiliated with Uncommon Schools, a network of 54 charter schools in New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts. Teaching in the Online Classroom, edited by Lemov, is a collection of essays on remote teaching by an array of his colleagues, who spent several months studying videos of effective teachers at work online.
Reflecting the Teach Like a Champion approach, the book opens with a highlight from the team's observation of a great teacher in action. Eric Snider is leading a remote English class for students at Achievement First Illuminar Mayoral Academy Middle School in Cranston, Rhode Island.Eric asks if anyone is willing to try to answer a question that they know is difficult. Eric has already told them, calmly and without judgment, that many of them misunderstood a key passage--that the question they've been asked to answer is a hard one. Many of the students are undaunted, and they volunteer. "Thanks James. Thanks, George. Thanks, Jaylee;' he says as each hand is raised. He's showing students that he sees them embrace the challenge. Soon, there are more volunteers.
"It's a great moment," Lemov and his colleague Erika Woolway explain in the introduction, "because it reminds us how important it is for people to feel seen." Before calling on a particular student, the teacher has taken care to acknowledge each one who has raised a hand.
This moment could easily stand as a metaphor for the book's mission and purpose. While there are nearly 200 pages of analysis, discussion, and...