Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and how to Teach it to Everyone)

Front Cover
W. W. Norton, 2014 - Education - 372 pages

A 2014 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

We've all had great teachers who opened new worlds, maybe even changed our lives. What made them so great?

Everyone agrees that a great teacher can have an enormous impact. Yet we still don't know what, precisely, makes a teacher great. Is it a matter of natural-born charisma? Or does exceptional teaching require something more?

Building a Better Teacher introduces a new generation of educators exploring the intricate science underlying their art. A former principal studies the country's star teachers and discovers a set of common techniques that help children pay attention. Two math teachers videotape a year of lessons and develop an approach that has nine-year-olds writing sophisticated mathematical proofs. A former high school teacher works with a top English instructor to pinpoint the key interactions a teacher must foster to initiate a rich classroom discussion. Through their stories, and the hilarious and heartbreaking theater that unfolds in the classroom every day, Elizabeth Green takes us on a journey into the heart of a profession that impacts every child in America.

What happens in the classroom of a great teacher? Opening with a moment-by-moment portrait of an everyday math lesson--a drama of urgent decisions and artful maneuvers--Building a Better Teacher demonstrates the unexpected complexity of teaching. Green focuses on the questions that really matter: How do we prepare teachers and what should they know before they enter the classroom? How does one get young minds to reason, conjecture, prove, and understand? What are the keys to good discipline? Incorporating new research from cognitive psychologists and education specialists as well as intrepid classroom entrepreneurs, Green provides a new way for parents to judge what their children need in the classroom and considers how to scale good ideas. Ultimately, Green discovers that good teaching is a skill. A skill that can be taught.

A provocative and hopeful book, Building a Better Teacher shows that legendary teachers are more than inspiring; they are perhaps the greatest craftspeople of all.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - benuathanasia - LibraryThing

Disappointing. It spends hours (I read the audiobook) building up a particular education style as being the end-all be-all in educational perfection, only to tear it apart at the last moment without ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Susan.Macura - LibraryThing

As a future teacher I mistakenly thought this book could offer some insights into how teaching works and how everyone could learn to be a better teacher. After all, this is how the book was promoted – see its cover. I read it, but wish I had not wasted my time. I got nothing out of it. Read full review

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About the author (2014)

Elizabeth Green is cofounder, CEO, and editor in chief of Chalkbeat, a nonprofit education news organization. A former Spencer Fellow at the Columbia School of Journalism, she has written for New York Times Magazine and other publications.

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