Tag Archives: Doug Lemov

Week 30: Mrs. M, do you think love sucks?

He used to hide under his desk when I would call on him, afraid to feel the eyes of his neighbors. It would take a few minutes to get a response. He would crawl out, head down, first whisper, mumble, then pause, then try again and again, protesting all the way. Finally, he would accept I was not giving up. We would wait for him. We were a classroom family, a safe place to speak. No opt out.

Now he raises his hand, speaks clearly, participates. Still, I remember those first weeks, months, maybe even that first entire year, so when I see his hand, I almost always stop and let him speak. This week we dissected pop songs to make generalizations about life and determine themes. Kelly Clarkson’s “Stronger” had them singing in unison as they took notes on their whiteboards, ready to defend their generalizations about life from the song.

A debate broke out, was she generalizing that love was bad? We decided songs fell into two camps, either love was grand or it sucked. I used that dreadful suck word for effect. Generally it is not allowed in our classroom, but artistic expression prevailed and it was the word that fit best. One quiet hand in the back row emerged, the boy who finally had a voice.

I nodded, he began timidly. “Mrs. M, do you think love sucks?”

A shy smile spread across his face. He earnestly wanted to know what I thought.

I paused, not sure what to tell him.

“No, I’m married, I think love is great, but I’m sure if I were ever divorced, I may think differently for awhile. I think it just depends on your life experiences.”

He looked a little relieved. I wanted to know what he thought, so I asked.

“I think love sucks.”

My heart twisted a bit, uncertain what experiences brought him to that opinion, the innocence of fifth grade love or something much, much deeper. Still I could not help but feel pride in his voice, his comfort of expression in front of us. It has been a long journey for him, for us, since that first day of fourth grade.

Week 30 is fifth grade 3/4 done. Three weeks until star testing. Two days of Doug Lemov training in Oakland, my heart remembering another life in the bay with Gregory Alan Isakov’s “San Francisco” playing from my car stereo. Inspiration from a room full of 200 educators all dead-set on closing the achievement gap for low-income kids. Role-playing and practice, practice, practice of the smallest teaching techniques, as I fought my own desire to crawl under the table and hide. The deep need to get back to my students, to perfect my practice, to help all students find their voice.

Last night as I drove past my old work on my way to meet a friend, I thought about how much my life has changed in the nearly three years since I quit. A friend from that job resigned yesterday, her excited email pushed my thoughts even further into that past life. It’s almost like a ghost of me still sits up in that shiny building, making a bit more money, but chained to a desk. I could see myself on the crosswalk headed home to our tiny Berkeley apartment. A piece of me is still there. I smiled though, as I drove by– excited by my two days of training, the person I have become since then, stronger and with a much louder voice.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

My Golden Teaching Ticket: Residency & Doug Lemov

You know you’re a teacher nerd when you get asked to attend a Doug Lemov training and it’s like you hit the jackpot. For those of you who have no idea who Doug Lemov is, let’s just say he’s a rockstar in teacher land. In fact, in some circles, my excitement could even be misconstrued as bragging, (imagine that, bragging about work training, but it’s true, Lemov is the guru of effective teaching).

Lemov’s name caught my eye in a New York Times article about crafting effective teachers a few years ago, before I was even accepted to a teaching program. I thought I was ahead of the curve when I walked into my interview with it practically memorized. Little did I know, my entire teacher training program would be connected to Lemov’s book, Teach Like a Champion. Not to mention all the professional development meetings at my school to this day centered on his findings.

So, when I received an email this morning asking if I’d be willing to read his newest book, Practice Perfect, and attend a two day training down in the Bay, I enthusiastically said yes. That’s the thing, as hard as my job often feels, I am incredibly fortunate to work for an organization that is forward-thinking.

Just last night, I sat in a restaurant with representatives from a non-profit whose sole aim is to perpetuate the teacher residency model as the most effective way to train new teachers. Inspired by the medical field, residencies puts trainees to work side-by-side in the same classrooms as highly effective mentor teachers full-time, for an entire year. Instead of the usual student teacher label, residents are called co-teachers and treated accordingly.

The residency I participated in, which is also part of the organization I still work for, has proven to be one of the most successful in the nation. As I was interviewed about my second year in my own classroom, I was reminded of my passion for changing the way education looks in this country. I was also asked more than once about whether I got my strategies from Doug Lemov. I was happy to say yes.

Teacher or what-have-you, this book sounds intriguing!

Proud to be a teacher nerd.

Tagged , , , , ,