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March 7, 2010 MAGAZINE PREVIEW
 

Summary: March 7, 2010
MAGAZINE PREVIEW
Building a Better Teacher
By ELIZABETH GREEN
ON A WINTER DAY five years ago, Doug Lemov realized he had a problem. After a successful
career as a teacher, a principal and a charter-school founder, he was working as a consultant,
hired by troubled schools eager -- desperate, in some cases -- for Lemov to tell them what to do
to get better. There was no shortage of prescriptions at the time for how to cure the poor
performance that plagued so many American schools. Proponents of No Child Left Behind saw
standardized testing as a solution. President Bush also championed a billion-dollar program to
encourage schools to adopt reading curriculums with an emphasis on phonics. Others argued for
smaller classes or more parental involvement or more state financing.
Lemov himself pushed for data-driven programs that would diagnose individual students'
strengths and weaknesses. But as he went from school to school that winter, he was getting the
sinking feeling that there was something deeper he wasn't reaching. On that particular day, he
made a depressing visit to a school in Syracuse, N.Y., that was like so many he'd seen before: "a
dispiriting exercise in good people failing," as he described it to me recently. Sometimes Lemov
could diagnose problems as soon as he walked in the door. But not here. Student test scores had
dipped so low that administrators worried the state might close down the school. But the teachers
seemed to care about their students. They sat down with them on the floor to read and picked

  

Source: Akhmedov, Azer - Department of Mathematics, University of California at Santa Barbara

 

Collections: Mathematics