A New York Times Notable Book
"A must-read book for every American teacher and taxpayer." —Amanda Ripley, author of The Smartest Kids in the World
Launched with a hugely popular New York Times Magazine cover story, Building a Better Teacher sparked a national conversation about teacher quality and established Elizabeth Green as a leading voice in education. Green's fascinating and accessible narrative dispels the common myth of the "natural-born teacher" and introduces maverick educators exploring the science behind their art. Her dramatic account reveals that great teaching is not magic, but a skill—a skill that can be taught. Now with a new afterword that offers a guide on how to identify—and support—great teachers, this provocative and hopeful book "should be part of every new teacher’s education" (Washington Post).
Journalist and cofounder of the news organization GothamSchools, Green promises to reveal how better teaching works and how everyone (or at least every teacher) can be taught how to do it. Unfortunately, the book promises more than it delivers. Green's primary argument concerns the need for better teacher training (less attention to "teachers' effect," more attention to successful classroom practice), and one of her most insightful observations concerns the shifts that occurred when "universities... began to add the lucrative teacher-training business to their repertoires." The material she cites most heavily comes from two distinguished specialists in training teachers to teach mathematics (Magdalene Lampert and Deborah Loewenberg Ball) and "from the world of educational entrepreneurs" (Doug Lemov, managing director of the Uncommon School charter network). Much of her content is classroom reportage that shows how teachers resolve the arithmetic problems of individual students. While this material will be of practical use to budding or aspiring teachers, it makes for dry reading. Japanese schools, charter schools, and national programs such as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top are assessed as well. The book is best-suited for education specialists and working teachers.