I’m almost done with Doug Lemov’s book, Teach Like A Champion. It’s gotten a lot of press, both good and bad, including an article in the New York Times Magazine before the book was even published. Yesterday I gave a copy to our Middle School director, a former football coach, with these words: “You need to give a copy of this book to every teacher in this school. It’s the playbook for your team.”
I don’t know whether he believed it or not. Whether he believed me or not. ( I am leaving after all; he has both all the reason in the world to trust me, and none whatsoever.)
But the role of a playbook is to give a quarterback and his team options. Those options include plans for offense. Plans for defense. Plans to test the opponents’ will; plans to show one thing to weak opponents while confusing spies in the stands for the NEXT, much-stronger team; plans to build team morale and team culture.
What Lemov has done is write a playbook. It’s a pretty strong playbook. It gives a standard language to all of those teachers who use it. It gives a series of patterns for day to day and week to week play, and it gives a set of patterns for teachers to observe in their students and responses to give.
I wish I’d had this book thirteen years ago.
But more, I wish that my school had this book ten years ago, fifteen years ago and made people read it. I think what this book has taught me is that schools need a playbook — even if this isn’t it. “Here is a standard set of 25 things that we do in the classroom. We do these five or ten once every day; we do these six every other day; we do these nine once a week.”. It doesn’t have to be 20 minute lessons. In fact, it would be better if it weren’t.
So often, we throw teachers into a classroom with a “teacher edition” of a textbook, a blank grade book, and an attendance roster. Wouldn’t it be nice to give the new guy a copy of your playbook, so he knows what to do when you pass him his first group of kids?