The 49 Techniques from Teach Like a Champion

Instructional and Classroom Management Strategies for Academic Success

Teacher pointing to students in class
Ideas to support success. Hero Images/Getty Images

The 49 Techniques first came to my attention in a March 7, 2010 article in the New York Times Magazine entitled "Can Good Teaching Be Learned?" The story focused on the book Teach Like a Champion by Doug Lemov. Having taught with mixed success in inner city Philadelphia, I recognized the efficacy of the techniques, even in tough to handle classrooms. This article brings links to all of the blogs I have written together in one place.

Setting High Academic Expectations

  • Technique One: No Opt Out Teachers with high expectations don't accept "I don't know," but expect students to be engaged and "give it a shot."
  • Technique Two: Right is Right This technique accepts no half answers, but asks for complete and correct answers to questions.
  • Technique Three: Stretch It This technique pushes a teacher to take correct answers and ask students to add depth or nuance to their answers.
  • Technique Four: Format Matters High expectations also means only accepting students answers in complete sentence with good grammar.
  • Technique Five: No Apologies Teachers with high expectations don't apologize for what they teach. No more "Sorry I have to teach you Shakespeare."
  • Technique 39: Do It Again Repetition is one way to be sure that students understand what you expect and that it is done to your standards.

Planning that Ensures Academic Achievement

  • Technique Seven: The Four M's The four m's of planning are Manageable, Measureable, Made first and Most Important.
  • Technique Eight: Post It Be sure your students know your objective for the day by posting it on the board.
  • Technique Nine: The Shortest Path Although teachers are often enamored with clever approaches, Lemov asserts that the shortest path to the objective is the most effective.
  • Technique 10: Double Plan Double planning involves planning not only what you will do, but also what the students will do during a lesson.
  • Technique 11: Draw the Map Drawing the map is controlling the environment by wisely grouping students through the seating chart.

Structuring and Delivering Your Lessons

  • Technique 12: The Hook. Introducing the lesson with a "hook," an activity or item that grabs the attention of your students will help enhance your lesson.
  • Technique 13: Name the steps. Great coaches, like great teachers, break down the tasks into steps.
  • Technique 14: Board = Paper This technique means that students put everything you put on the board on their paper.
  • Technique 15: Circulate Keep moving! Drawing the map suggests making room between the desks so the teacher move unhindered.
  • Technique 16: Break it Down Breaking it down requires the teacher to use the wrong answers and help students discover the correct number.
  • Technique 17: Ratio Part One This is a complex idea, and requires two parts! It involves increasing student participation and limiting teacher talk.
  • Technique 17: Ratio Part Two More strategies for increasing the time students are involved in discussion.
  • Technique 18: Check for Understanding This is an on your feet method of data collection, sort of a formative assessment on the run.
  • Technique 19: At Bats Baseball coaches know that the best way to increase effectiveness is to increase the number of times they are "at bat."
  • Technique 20: Exit ticket An exit ticket is a quick formative assessment of the lesson your students just finished.
  • Technique 21: Take a Stand This technique encourages students to have opinions and to take stands on those opinions.

Engaging Students in your Lesson

  • Technique 22: Cold Calls Like the sales technique, the teacher asks someone who is unsuspecting for an answer. It avoids "opting out," and keeps all your students on their toes.
  • Technique 23: Call and Response This technique uses a tradition from African American hymnody, and creates a way that the whole class can participate in questioning
  • Technique 24: Pepper Like a coach lobbing balls to his fielders, a teacher can "pepper" his or her students with fast paced questions, which makes it fun and keeps students on their toes.
  • Technique 25: Wait Time Teachers are too often too impatient, and provide an answer to their own question when no student pops a hand up. On the other hand, teachers also don't give students time to shape a complete, thoughtful response to a question.
  • Technique 26: Everybody Writes What goes on the board needs to go in the notebooks.
  • Technique 27: Vegas Nothing like a little glitz to liven up classroom instruction!

Creating a Strong Classroom Culture

  • Technique 28: Entry Routine Having a structured entry routine expedites the beginning of instruction.
  • Technique 29: Do Now Familiar to elementary teachers and devotees of Harry Wong as "bell work," Do Nows are brief academic tasks to review the previous day's work or to introduce the days new work.
  • Technique 30: Tight Transitions Transitions need to be scripted and rehearsed, so little time is wasted between instructional activities.
  • Technique 32: SLANT SLANT is an acronym for what excellent attention behavior looks like.
  • Technique 33: On Your Mark Coaches expect athletes to be ready to engage in their sport. In the same way, a teacher shows students what they need to be "on their mark."
  • Technique 34: Seat Signals Simple hand signals simplify requesting routine interruptions, such as using a bathroom or getting a pencil, can eliminate some of the waste of time that plague instruction.
  • Technique 35: Props In Teach Like a Champion parlance, props are fun routines the class does together to support the success of their peers.

Building and Maintaining High Behavioral Expectations

  • Technique 36: 100 Percent Champion teachers don't create unreasonable behavioral expectations, because their final expectation is that everyone conforms all (100%) of the time.
  • Technique 37: What to Do. Be sure, if you are asking for compliance, that you have been very explicit in explaining what it is you want your students "To Do."
  • Technique 38: Strong Voice Part One and Part Two This technique, strong voice, is one that separates the really effective teacher from the adequate. It's in two parts so you understand it's use and how to acquire it.

    The Blogs below continue the chapter "Setting and Maintaining High Behavioral Expectations."

    • Technique 39: Do It Again. This technique is perhaps the only negative consequence that truly works. When students fail to meet your standards, you ask them to "Do it again." They model the appropriate behavior, but are eager not to have to do it again.
    • Technique 40: Sweat the Details Building on the "broken window" theory of policing, Lemov notes that maintaining high standards will have positive effects across the classroom environment.
    • Technique 41: Threshold This threshold is the one at the door. By meeting and greeting students as they enter you can set the tone for your class.
    • Technique 42: No Warnings. Responding early and proportionately can help you avoid real crises. So rather than giving warning, you mete out consequences when the behavior is still only a minor problem.

    Building Character and Trust

    • Technique 43 Part 1: Positive Framing. Positive Framing means casting things in a way that is positive and leads to appropriate behavior. This blog starts with three strategies to help you frame it positively.
    • Technique 43 Part 2. Three more strategies for framing classroom experiences positively.
    • Technique 44: Precise Praise. Rather than "cheap praise," precise praise is valued by students because it describes what it is you are pleased with.
    • Technique 45: Warm and Strict. It may seem that warm and strict are contradictory, but effective teachers can be both at the same time.
    • Technique 46: The J Factor. The J in J factor stands for Joy. This technique offers ideas to help your students experience the Joy!
    • Technique 47: Emotional Constancy An effective teacher keeps his or her emotions in check, and doesn't make it all about him or herself. Make your good moods about good performance, not about pleasing you.
    • Technique 48: Explain Everything. Be sure your students understand why you do what you do, as the why is an important part of instruction.
    • Technique 49: Normalize Error. If students understand that errors are not the end of the world but an opportunity to learn, they will be more willing to take risks and more likely to learn.

    Teach Like a Champion is an excellent resource for teaching, especially for middle school and high school students. Besides the 49 techniques, it includes recommendations for improving instructional delivery. The book also includes video demonstrations of the techniques which make it well worth investing in the book.