SOUTH BRONX SCHOOL: Whitney Tilson Is In Love With Doug Lemov

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Whitney Tilson Is In Love With Doug Lemov

I wasn't planning on blogging tonight. The White Sox are playing the Dodgers on MLB Network. I really wanted to see it. Pre-season baseball at its finest. But I got another of Whitney Tilson's convoluted; hyperactive mass emails today and just couldn't pass up on commenting.

In tomorrow's New York Times, Elizabeth Green of Gotham Schools has a story in the magazine (I am really starting to question Gotham Schools objectivity). I read a few paragraphs already and thought that it was going to be another hit job on teachers. However, I was holding out judgment till I read the entire story. That was until today. Whitney Tilson praised it. Therefore it must not be a good reflection on teachers. Thanks Whitney.

But one thing Whitney mentioned was the praise this dude, Doug Lemov receives by Elizabeth Green. Just who is Doug Lemov? Dougie is Managing Director, True North Public School, some charter school wasteland. Dougie's background is quite impressive.

.......Founder of School Performance, an Albany-based non-profit that provides diagnostic assessments, performance data analysis, and academic consulting to high performing charter schools. He is a founder and the former principal of the Academy of the Pacific Rim Charter School in Boston, regarded as one of the highest performing urban charter schools in the country. After leaving Academy of the Pacific Rim, Mr. Lemov served as the Vice President for Accountability at the State University of New York Charter Schools Institute, the leading authorizer of charters in New York, where he designed and implemented a rigorous school accountability system. He has since served as a consultant to such organizations as KIPP, New Leaders for New Schools, and Building Excellent Schools. Mr. Lemov is a Trustee of the New York Charter Schools Association and of KIPP Tech Valley Charter School. He has a B.A. from Hamilton College, an M.A. from Indiana University, and an M.B.A. from the Harvard Business School.

Funny, nowhere do I see anything regarding any actual teaching experience. I also find it ironic that Whitney likes someone who has some RIM in their background. Whitney, what two adults do is their own business. I suggest that you invest in several dental dams.

But what is it that Whitney gets so girlishly excited about Dougie? Seems Dougie has written a special kind of article. Whitney even praised it in his blog. Dougie's article is, The Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices. WOW!!!! And just what is included in this taxonomy? The crack team here at SBSB delved into it, some of these techniques can be seen here.

In Strong Voice, according to Dougie, a teacher can easily silence a disruptive student by silence and a strong look. We here at SBSB have a three word reaction to Dougie's discovery. D.U.H!

Another revelation by Dougie, one that the crack team here at SBSB found so funny we had to go to go CVS to buy adult diapers, for we had wet ourselves laughing so hard, is entitled, Cold Call. In this a teacher is encouraged to call on students who are not raising their hands. WOW! Thank you so much Dougie for that teaching tidbit.

But the the funniest, one that has been ripped off, is Precise Praise. In this a teacher praises specifically a student's good behavior and/or answer. Also, when a student is seen not paying attention, the teacher quietly goes up to the student, whispers in his ear and corrects this. Where have we seen this before?

We have seen it with Lee Canter and his Assertive Discipline. Gee, Dougie, ever here of Intellectual Property?

There will be more tomorrow about Dougie, and whatever strangeness Whitney feels for him after a thorough reading is done, and the article is used to help line the kitty litter box.

Whitney, you are such a poo poo head. You fall for everything don't you? And Dougie just go on thinking how wonderful you think you are.


Anonymous said...

All these guys are doing is reinventing the wheel. Don't these businessmen have like portfolios to manage?

Pete Zucker said...

It is all very Freudian in my opinion, especially for Whitney. It gives him the power he lacks as a bottom in the netherworld of interstate rest stops.

But seriously. It is this neo liberal elitism that is most concerning. Like Reichsführer Bloomberg they think they know what is best for those of color and damn those who disagree.

Anonymous said...

I don't know that you can put liberalism and elitism in the same sentence. I'v always thought elitism existed in conservative circles. Maybe only recently have certain liberals developed a sense of elitism. Am I wrong?

I was so proud of Obama when he got elected. He has gone so off course, I don't think he can't get back on. And I honestly believe that he is following the Billionaire Boys Club model of "fixing" our schools. Maybe he gets HUGE campaign donations from them, I don't know. All I know is, he's NOT behaving like a Democratic president. It seems like he's continuing the Bush educational agenda.

Anonymous said...

This is a ridiculous mess.

I won't bother with anything subjective.

"Funny, nowhere do I see anything regarding any actual teaching experience. "

If you did actually read "a few paragraphs" then you would have noticed the first two sentences: "ON A WINTER DAY five years ago, Doug Lemov realized he had a problem. After a successful career as a teacher..."

If you had read further, you'd notice that nothing in the article is any more "anti-teacher" then the school system is "anti-student"

Lemov's taxonomy is a collection of techniques that HAVE BEEN incredibly useful for first-year teachers. It's a set of tools, not an anti-teacher philosophy.

Frankly, your article was as disgusting as it was inaccurate.

Anonymous said...

you ought to be ashamed of yourself as an educator. It pains me to realize that the people who are responsible for shaping open minded and responsible learners are so resistant to new ideas. You strike me as arrogant, and the last quality I want to see in my child’s teachers is arrogance. Stop blaming other people and circumstances for the current state of education in America; everyone can play a role in improving the way our students learn. If you have constructive ideas for helping students, by all means share them. But if you are a teacher who wants nothing more than to criticize the people who ARE trying to make a difference, please find another occupation because you are not worthy of the title.

Anonymous said...

"But if you are a teacher who wants nothing more than to criticize the people who ARE trying to make a difference,"

Want to make a difference? Go teach for a decade in the south Bronx. Then come and talk to us.

Pete Zucker said...

You are absolutely right. I should have prefaced it as never having been a "real" teacher. However, you and other's of Dougie's ilk think you are special because you "rolled up your sleeves" and felt that you are assuaging your white liberal guilt and that you are God-like white man showing boys and girls of color how to become like yourselves.

Teach in the real world then we can have conversation.

As for Dougie's taxonomy. Rah-fucking-rah. Riipped off from Lee Canter.

As for disgusting? What? I think it is far more disgusting that Whitney Tilson locked away in a some bathroom with hand creme and Dougie's Taxonomy rubbing one out.

Anonymous said...

The attitudes displayed on here and other blogs regarding Mr. Doug Lemov's proven, successful work just confirms why your schools are doing so poorly. The proven results are in the performance data of the schools that use the Taxonomy and you can't really argue with facts. Well, you can but you just make yourself look like a total fool.

Pete Zucker said...

Arrogant? From 8 30 till 2 50 I am a teacher. After that I am a regular Joe. So please spare me. Yet you speak from ignorance and the safety of anonymity. Do you know me? Do you know what I have done? PD I have given?

Teachers have no problems learning new things WE DESIRE IT. What we object to are people who from their gilded perch think they have the answer, especially when these people have never ever taught, nor been in a situation that we have been in.

Let me ask you this. I played HS ball and coach Little League. Can I then fly down to Tampa and teach Curtis Granderson how to hit lefties? No. Or come into your industry and tell you how to do your job?

Pete Zucker said...

What are you Dougies's bottom bitch? I, and every teacher I know have been using those tactics for years.

By the way so has Lee Canter.

ed notes online said...

Your barking up the wrong trees here. Tell you what anonymous. Pick any class you want and let's me, you and this blog's host meet up. You use Doug's models and we'll use what we have done in classrooms in the most difficult areas of the city - I did it for 3 decades. Let's see who walks out. Better yet, ask the kids how they feel about us as teachers. Or don't they count in your world of data evaluation?

You see, I was a new teacher who eventually figured out a lot of what Doug did - but I didn't have the luxury of going on a safari to do it.

I held myself accountable - not to the bureaucrats but to my kids and their parents. I'll send you references from former students, some in their 40's who are quite successful, thank you.

Just this week I was contacted by 3 students from my elementary classrooms a quarter century ago so we are not totally forgotten.

Not that I am taking any credit for any of it since I don't think teachers matter as much as you guys think.

Anonymous said...

@ "Ed Notes Online"

First, I assume you mean "you're barking" not "your barking."

Second, I only wrote the first comment - the one that pointed out that this blogger either didn't read or didn't understand the NYTimes article. While I agree that you should be ashamed of yourself for cutting down legitimately helpful teaching techniques, and the results ( in Troy, Bed Stuy, and Newark clearly show tremendous improvement, you're mistaken when you refer to all of this site's detractors as a single entity.

Third, I honestly don't understand what you mean by "going on safari." My best guess is that you're referencing Lemov's in-class research. I find it strange that you even bring up this point, as most detractors want to overlook the fact that Lemov's research came from observations and discussions with actual teachers instead of reams of test printouts.

Fourth, Doug Lemov WAS a teacher. I know this clashes with the easy narrative of some corporate-minded data-hungry ceo who has never set foot in a classroom, but that doesn't entitle you to change the facts.

Fifth, I'm glad you "eventually figured out a lot of what Doug did." Would you then deny that to other teachers? Is there anything truly wrong with teaching them those techniques in their very first year?

Anonymous said...

I read the article and it sounds like someone is trying to reinvent the wheel. Lemov certainly doesn;t bring any vast experience in education to be able to effectively judge anyone's teaching styles. These jokers make me laugh! When are you gonna get it??
Renaming certain techniques in teaching is just absolutely ludicrous. I'm sensing people see some $$$ that can be made in turning our public schools upside down. Opening charters, running schools corporate style etc.. When this is all said and done ten years from now, it will be seen as the biggest mistake of all time.

ed notes online said...

"First, I assume you mean "you're barking" not "your barking."

I love when you start out this way pointing to a typo - yes I do know the difference between your and you're - but in you're mind that makes me a lousy teacher. Next time I use youse.

Now as to the fact that Doug taught. Details please. Where, hoe long, what type of classes?

You see, I know some great private school teachers who died in the public school classroom and ran to private schools. Did Doug put in the years in the inner city and not in a charter - like dealing with all the administrative crap we had to deal with - often defending our kids against horrible administration policies- I spent a decade going to school board meetings challenging them to stop creating patronage and cut class size.

Doug should do some research and write a handbook on walking the minefield of school politics.

When you say "results" we are talking apples and oranges. you are talking reading scores. I measured results in getting kids who were killing each other to walk arm in arm after the first month of school. Or creating a community in my classroom that kids wanted to be in. And yes there is accountability when kids want to be in your class or parents tell you how happy they are. Not because of "results" in your world but because they knew their kids would be treated very well as human beings.

Reading scores? I can't guarantee that because I refuse to do test prep all the time. But I got pretty decent results from many kids and others not so great. I got better results when they gave me the top class and not as good when I had the bottom with kids 3 years behind in reading.

On safari meant he left teaching and floated around doing his research. We all did that research in our own schools and when we met with other teachers. It took me a year and a half to figure out classroom management. I still feel I could walk into any classroom anywhere and deal with it. Do I have things memorized? No, what I do know is I will relate to the kids and figure out what I have to do. There is no kid one on one many of us couldn't deal with. Transfer that idea to a class - establish an individual relationship and it works. Unless the kid has so many emotional issues anything will set him/her off. And don't you know when you get these kids in a class of 30 who should be in a class of 12 all bets are off. Try looking an almost psychotic kid in the eye and see what happens.

It is not about looking in the eye. It is ultimately about trust. Kids who have been deprived of certain things will follow you anywhere if you treat them right.

I'm proud of my time in the classroom and loved the job.

Anonymous said...

I think all three of you (SBS blogger, Primadonna, and Ed) are missing the point.

My mother taught public school for three decades, and I've spent a couple years as a public school teacher myself. Trust me, I'm familiar with administrative bureaucracy and the insanity of school politics. I've also gone to bat against school boards more concerned with the bottom line than the actual quality of education. And as for myself, I define quality as more than reading scores. You're preaching to the choir when you lament the plight of the urban teacher, truly a thankless job.

I don't think Charter Schools are a silver bullet either. While their (specifically Uncommon Schools) ability to provide their students with a better education than other students from identical backgrounds is undeniable, part of the reason why Charters are so successful is that they can reject the truly dangerous and deranged. Public schools have no such option and I understand when the only recourse is to make deals with students.

So, with all of this angst, it's understandable when you take Green's article and assume this is a case of the disassociated media trying to ram charter school reform and teacher-blame down the throats of struggling urban districts.

But you're wrong.

I understand how you can look at Doug Lemov as someone locked in an ivory tower, disconnected from the facts on the ground, who stands on a podium (or in the case of SBSB, standing on someone else) and claiming to know better than thou.

But you're wrong.

Lemov's taxonomy wasn't created in a vacuum, and you'd be challenged to find anyone outside this blog who claims that it sprung whole from his head. The taxonomy is a collection of what good teachers do. (A fact that even the three of you, the most ardent critics I've read, don't dispute. If these techniques were obvious to you, or were in prior books you've read, then great.) He collected the best techniques he saw from master teachers, and put them in a format that's easy for beginning teachers to replicate.

The point is not that "his ideas are better than your ideas" - the point is that struggling teachers will do better when armed with his techniques. You proposed before that you would teach better in an inner-city classroom than someone who only read Doug's book. Assuming you're as good as you say, then obviously you're right. However, the point is that a first year teacher would teach better with, rather than without, the techniques in Lemov's taxonomy.

I know you want to lash out at Doug and Green's article because it reminds you of your frustration with insulated elitist reformers trying to impose short-sighted punishments upon "underperforming" teachers. Yet, for this particular situation, this is not the case.

The fact is, if you believe in giving new urban teachers as much useful preparation as you can - if you would like to see new teachers learn the valuable techniques you acquired over your career - then you agree with Doug.

ed notes online said...

Part 1
You seem to have good intentions but we are not on the same page.

Let me day that I had a lot of flaws as a teacher too and never stopped looking for ways to make things better. A data driven principal who cared for nothing but reading and math scores pretty well killed my enthusiasm and I ended up teaching computers - which she knew nothing about - for 10 years. But it was never like having your own class.

First let's start here:
"While their (specifically Uncommon Schools) ability to provide their students with a better education than other students from identical backgrounds is undeniable, part of the reason why Charters are so successful is that they can reject the truly dangerous and deranged."

There are clues here that you didn't spend enough time in urban schools.

Why is it undeniable? What is the proof? Test scores? Compared to what?

Many of us fully understand the possibilities and the unlikely outcomes given a certain situation.

Unless there is a lot more money available the outcomes can only vary so far.

There aren't only 2 categories of students. The normals and the dangerous and deranged.

While on the surface it may look like kids have identical backgrounds - define this more openly - free lunch? color? - in reality there are major differences. Ask any teacher in the most difficult schools how it is to teach the top and the bottom kids in the same school, same neighborhood and same teachers. All kids seem fairly alike on the surface. But dig. Find which ones have 2 parents. Or are raised by grandmothers. Or have a parent who works in a decent job even if low paying (one of my top 2 students of all time had a mom who worked in a school kitchen- one of the most amazing parents I ever met and an alcoholic dad who died when she was in the 7th grade. The kid graduated college and is now a teacher).

The poverty level in public housing varies much more than people think. So I maintain the charters are getting this cream and leaving behind not lunatics but kids - often the kids in the bottom classes are wonderful - without much language at home and maybe slower for a number of reasons - I saw the crack baby generation and teaching in the 70's-early 80's was very different from the late 80's into the 90's.

ed notes online said...

Part 2
Now it is not that I think I am that good but I also think most of the people I worked with could do the same thing. Most of us figured it out.

Now here is where I agree with you - if we can get some of this figuring out to new teachers it would be very useful. But the point is that every school has people who could do this. A rational system would put new teachers with these people initially. I was lucky as they had to give me a job due to the 6 week wonder program I was in in 1967 and I was a permanent sub in one school. When no one was absent they sent me to help a 1st or 2nd grade teacher and I saw some masters and some not so hot teachers at work. I began to think about what it would take to get control of a class because my first year as a sub was hell. In fact I think that putting new teachers in such a situation would be a good thing for them and for the school as they can't do to much damage to kids as a daily sub.
Part of the day they would work with top teachers.

The point is it doesn't take a Doug to make this happen though the work he did is useful I'm sure. But a much bigger deal is being made of it than it should be.

BY the way, did he deal with how to seat kids in a way to minimize friction? lining kids up and moving them through the building? 5 times a day (I was the only teacher with mixed boy/girl lines carefully thought out as to placement)? How to efficiently get doors while moving? Going down stairs (where does the teacher stand?) Picking kids up from lunch 1.1? How to have them stand on line for the bathroom (because in my school you all had to go together - think how much time that wasted) so we did times tables. Could they recite the 9 times table before they finished peeing? Tell Doug I have lots of ideas like this for his next book.

Anonymous said...

If you think that Lemov ripped off of Lee Canter then why would Canter have written the following to go on the back of Lemov's book: "Doug Lemov's Teach Like a Champoin is a break-through book that is both visionary and comprehensive. If you are a teacher who wants to increase the academic success of your students, you should read this book. If you are an administrator with the same goal, you must get this book into the hands of your teachers!"?

Pete Zucker said...

Did I ever say that Dougie copied everything from Lee Kantet? Or was it just what I cited? I still stick to the fact that nothing by Dougie is original or groundbreaking.

Why can't Dougie come here to the South Bronx and show all, in a non-controlled setting how it is done?

Linda Hoekman said...

Wow. What an embarrassing expression of ignorance. I tell my students to avoid profanity because it exposes your inability to use clarifying vocabulary.
Your comments clearly expose your intelligence.
One Anonymous poster (so brave) said Want to make a difference? Go teach for a decade in the south Bronx. Then come and talk to us.
Being present does not make a teacher and the likes of you can only hurt student learning.
Good luck South Bronx!

Anonymous said...

I taught in the South Bronx for years, and I can testify that Doug Lemov's taxonomy is ground breaking in teacher development. He himself explains, that he didn't create anything new, in fact he traveled the country to video and document what good teachers do, he found the similarities, and gave the techniques names for the purpose of having a shared vocabulary. He has behavior techniques and instructional techniques that truly force students to do the cognitive work. Whoever wrote this article is pathetic and foul! Just thank GOD for the union that protects you. Doug's schools have the results, he taught before, he was a dean of students and a principal, so shut up! Stop placating your own failure! I bet your students are doing horrible aren't they? So sad..SMH!