Tuesday, May 8, 2012


Teach Like a Champion
Technique #5
Without Apology

“A belief that content is boring is a self fulfilling prophecy. . . our job is to find a way to make what we teach engaging.”

KEY IDEA:  There is no such thing as boring content.  In the hands of a great teacher who can find the way in, the material students need to master to succeed and grow is exciting, interesting,and inspiring, even if as teachers we sometimes doubt that we can make it so.

2 ways we are at risk for apologizing for what we teach:
  • Assuming something will be boring. 
“Guys, I know this is kind of dull.  Let’s just try to get through it.”
“I know you may not find this very interesting.”

  • Blaming it.  Don’t put the appearance of content in the class on an outside entity.
“This material is on the test (or in the standards) so we have to learn it . . .”
“They say we have to read this so . . .”

Alternatives to apologies:
  • Making it “accessible”.  Assuming something is too hard or technical for students is a dangerous trap.  Sticking with kids, telling them you are sticking with them, and constantly delivering the message, “But I know you can,” raises a student’s self-perception.
o       “This material is great because it’s really challenging!”
o       “Lots of people don’t understand this until they get to college, but you’ll know it now. Cool.”
o       “This can really help you succeed by . . .”
o       “This gets more and more exciting as you come to understand it better.”
o       “We’re going to have some fun as we do it.”
o       “A lot of people are afraid of this stuff, so after you’ve mastered it, you’ll know more than most adults.”
o       “There’s a great story behind this!”
o       “This is one of the things you’re going to take real pride inknowing.”
o       “When you’re in college, you can show off how much you know about . . .”
o       “Don’t be rattled by this. There are a few fancy words, but once you know them, you’ll have this down.”
o       This is really tricky.  But I haven’t seen much you couldn’t do if you put your minds to it.”
From Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemove (Jossey Bass, 2010)

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