Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Teach Like a Champion
Technique #2
Right is Right

“In holding out for right, you set the expectation that the questions you ask and their answers truly matter.”

KEY IDEA:  Set and defend a high standard of correctness (100%) in your classroom.  There is a strong likelihood that students will stop striving when they hear the word right (or yes or some other proxy).

Don’t affirm a student’s answer and repeat it, adding some detail of their own to make it fully correct even though the students didn’t provide and may not even recognize the differentiating factor.  In holding out for right, you set the expectation that the questions you ask and their answers truly matter.

Four categories with the Right is Right technique:
  1. Hold out for all the way.  Praise students for their effort but never confuse effort with mastery.
  • I like what you’ve done.  Can you get us the rest of the way?
  • We’re almost there.  Can you find the last piece?
  • I like most of that …
  • Can you develop that further?
  • Okay, but, there is a bit more to it than that.
  • Kim just knocked a base hit.  Who can bring her home?
  • Another effective response is to repeat the student’s words back to him or her, placing emphasis on incomplete parts if necessary.  A peninsula is water indenting into land?

  1. Answer the question 
Students need to answer the question you asked, not the one she wished you asked or what she confused it for.  (We will talk about that in a few minutes, but right now I want to know about the …..)  If you ask for definition and get an example, try saying, that’s an example and I want a definition.

  1. Right answer, right time.
Sometimes students try to show you how smart they are by getting ahead of your questions, but it is risky to accept answers out of sequence.  My question wasn’t about the solution to the problem.  It was about what we do next.  What do we do next?  Protect the integrity of your lesson by not jumping ahead to engage an exciting “right” answer at the wrong time.

  1. Use technical vocabulary.
Good teachers develop effective right answers using terms they are already comfortable with.  Great teachers get them to use precise technical vocabulary.

From Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemove (Jossey Bass, 2010

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