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How favorite TLAC strategies evolve over time

2013 December 5
by HISD Communications

Pin Oak MS French teacher Sara Tomlinson checks for understanding among her students.

Sara Tomlinson, a French teacher at Pin Oak Middle School, has been using the strategies described by Doug Lemov in his book, Teach Like a Champion (TLAC), for the past three years, and she checked in with us recently to explain how her favorites have shifted over time.

“When I first started working with TLAC, I would have said that my favorite was ‘Tight Transitions,’” said Tomlinson. “The ease with which my transitions happened using that technique was amazing, and it was great for a newer teacher to have so quickly.”

“Now,” she said, “I find that my new favorite is ‘Check for Understanding.’ There are a variety of strategies out there on how to do the checking, but what was always lacking was what to do with all that data. Simply walking around and observing our ‘Do Now’ activity each day allows me to decide whether or not it’s necessary to re-teach or expand on a topic. This was a huge step for me, which has led to a much more successful CFU.”

Tomlinson also observed that unless teachers create classroom environments where making mistakes is expected—and even encouraged—students won’t feel safe enough to test their limits by volunteering answers or trying new things.

“In order to best utilize the data I gathered, students first needed to be comfortable showing me their errors,” she said. “Using strategies from the Teach the Error section of CFU (the new 2.0 version), making a mistake in class is now normal and acceptable. Students understand that you must make mistakes in order to learn from them. Now, they use their mistakes as the driving force behind learning and fewer fall through the cracks due to feeling discouraged.”

Sixteen HISD schools are now involved in the partnership between Doug Lemov, the author of Teach Like a Champion, and Uncommon Schools. The pilot program was launched during the 2011-2012 school year at seven HISD middle schools. Read more about it here.

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