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Largest successes often start with smallest steps at Deady MS

2014 March 6
by HISD Communications

Dr. Traci Duck

Sometimes, students’ success depends on an educator’s ability to break assignments down into their smallest components. That’s the philosophy Dr. Traci Duck lives by in her science classes at Deady Middle School, and one of the reasons she uses the “break it down” Teach Like a Champion (TLAC) technique with her students.

“As an almost cult-like follower of (the late, legendary basketball Coach) John Wooden,” said Dr. Duck, “I loved seeing him quoted in Doug Lemov’s TLAC materials. He often shared, ‘If you want to win championships, you must take care of the smallest of details.’ And each season on the first day of practice, Wooden would instruct his players to take off their shoes and socks. Then he would then teach them, in great detail, how to put their shoes and socks on properly. Why? Because he knew blisters were a huge issue that caused his players pain. And he wanted to ‘break it down’ and teach his players to avoid blisters. That started with the simple concept of putting their socks on correctly and tying their shoes properly.”

Dr. Duck noted that the “break it down” concept obviously worked well for Coach Wooden, since his teams went on to win 10 NCAA championships during his 27 years at the University of California, Los Angeles. But after studying the technique for some time, she began to question her own adherence to the method. “Am I starting with the tie-your-shoe concept in my classroom,” she asked herself, “or am I simply jabbering on about grand science concepts while my students are sitting there with blisters on their feet?”

Now, she says proudly, “I make sure I start with step one, instead of jumping to step 10 and assuming my students will understand steps 2 through 8 on their own. Putting the time in to ‘break it down’ allows the students a greater chance of success with the big concept.”

Had a breakthrough in your classroom? Tell us about it! Just send an email to info@houstonisd.org briefly describing your situation, and we could feature it here.

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