- Paperback: 400 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (July 13, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393351084
- ISBN-13: 978-0393351088
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars See all reviews (70 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #94,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone) 1st Edition
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“Couldn't be better timed…exhilarating.” (Sara Mosle - The Atlantic)
“Moments of educational theater enliven and illuminate the history.” (Kate Tuttle - Boston Globe)
“Both a history of the research on effective teaching as well as a consideration of how that research might best be implemented. What emerges is the gaping chasm between what the best teachers do and how we go about evaluating what they’ve done.” (Sebastian Stockman - New York Times Book Review)
“Green has spent years looking at what makes a great teacher―and whether the teachers we remember most fondly were born great or simply learned key skills.” (Greg Toppo - USA Today)
“[S]hould be part of every new teacher's education.” (Michael S. Roth - The Washington Post)
“Elizabeth Green draws upon years of interviews and research as an education writer and CEO of Chalkbeat to make the case for why teaching is a craft and that it can be taught to anyone. Her excellent book should be read for a detailed account of the history of teacher education, an international context, and an entertaining narrative.” (Jonathan Wai - Psychology Today)
“We romanticize teachers, and we vilify them, but we don't do much to help. This beautifully written, defiantly hopeful book points the way to a better future for American teachers and the children they teach.” (Paul Tough, best-selling author of How Children Succeed)
“Elizabeth Green reveals, in cinematic detail, what makes great teaching such a dazzling intellectual challenge―and why it has taken us so unforgivably long to care. A must-read book for every American teacher and taxpayer.” (Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in the World)
About the Author
Elizabeth Green is cofounder, CEO, and editor in chief of Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education news organization. A former Spencer Fellow at the Columbia School of Journalism, she has written for New York Times Magazine and other publications.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are interested in reading an intellectual treatise on the history of teaching this book is for you but if you are interested in the craft of teaching and how to teach this book is not the one.
This book will not help you learn how to build a better teacher. Instead, you are treated to a historical perspective of reform attempts at improving classroom instruction.
Basically, you will learn what many others have tried and may have seemed to work for a brief episodic period and then results ultimately are inconclusive.
It's a bit of a roller coaster in that you learn about initiatives that at first seem successful and all too often succumb to pushback, infighting, logistical barriers or people just moving on to other jobs.
As a practicing educator, the only practical ideas I was able to take away from this book included:
*consider more lesson study in the Japanese model
* study and consider implementation the Deborah Ball High leverage practices.
Read this book if you want a historical perspective regarding attempts to improve instructional practices. This is not the book for you if you're looking for practical classroom strategies for immediate implementation.
It didn't meet my expectations, but that's my own fault. I didn't realize how much research and investigation into teaching I have read over the past few years. Building A+ Better Teacher is a summary of metadata from many different sources about what works and what doesn't.
If you're new to education, or you've just begun reading the research, this book is a concise way to catch up on what has been happening in the education field. If you are up-to-date on your professional reading, this book will be an extra reinforcement of what you already know.
The author, Elizabeth Green covers a good deal of educational history, and focuses a few specific teachers who have made groundbreaking changes, such as Doug Lemov. It's a valuable book, but again, it's a review of the metadata from educational practices and research.
The book (and accompanying New York Times Magazine article, which is a distinct and also excellent read) begins to explore this thesis with a page-turning narrative of the Japanese system of teaching (specifically math), the method's original creation by American teachers, and the failure of American school systems to implement these methods across the country. The main idea of this method, as obvious as it may seem, is to emphasize mastery of concepts over mastery of execution. Think proofs instead of problems, and starting as early as students learn to count. The brilliant elementary school math lessons taught by book heroes Magdalene Lampert and Deborah Ball are such a thrill to read I found myself wishing I too had the chance to try out these ideas in the classroom. Perhaps the book will convince some to quit their jobs and become teachers.
The failure of American schools was not to recognize the importance of this concept, but to adopt it successfully. Green highlights two reasons for this failure. The first is that American teachers are given an excessive amount of autonomy in their work. Teaching, almost like marital intercourse, is considered in America to be a "deeply private act" that neither requires nor allows intervention from outsiders. Unlike in Japan, teaching in American classrooms provides little time or want for teachers to work together to continually hone their craft.
Second, even the INITIAL education of teachers, at graduate schools of education across the country, have failed them. Green carefully documents the rise of the modern Ed school and concludes that this institution ultimately cares very little about preparing teachers to teach successfully. Much of the research conducted at these schools is apparently not related to teaching at all, and many of the faculty members that are ostensibly education researchers are really academic psychologists not good enough to get tenure in a real psychology department. Calling themselves "educational psychologists", most of what they study is completely unrelated to classroom teaching. There are exceptions of course, but the overall message Green delivers is clear: there needs to be serious reform in graduate education programs.
So what is the solution? Of course Green has not been the only one to notice these issues, and she chronicles several efforts to "fix" teaching, some more successful than others. The first chapter on charter schools highlight the efforts of Doug Lemov and his taxonomy of teaching practices, building them up as a theoretically crucial component of any education reform. But in the next chapter, on discipline, Green reveals a darker side of Lemov and his impact, ultimately concluding his efforts may have been partially misguided and done more harm than good.
There is much more of course, but if any of that sounds interesting or provocative to you, I definitely recommend buying and reading the book. If you just want to know how to be a better teacher, this book will help, but only in a few chapters, and the best nuggets about effective teaching are tucked in between intellectually dense (but captivating and well written) reporting on education reform more broadly. But really if you want to be a better teacher, and this is the message between the lines of the book, you should read the whole book and learn that fixing the institution of preparing and continually educating teachers is the most important and only sustainable way to improve American teaching.