"Elizabeth Green draws upon years of interviews and research as an education writer and CEO of Chalkbeat to make the case for why teaching is a craft and that it can be taught to anyone. Her excellent book should be read for a detailed account of the history of teacher education, an international context, and an entertaining narrative."
Psychology Today - Jonathan Wai
"We romanticize teachers, and we vilify them, but we don't do much to help. This beautifully written, defiantly hopeful book points the way to a better future for American teachers and the children they teach."
[Green's] project is both a history of the research on effective teaching as well as a consideration of how that research might best be implemented. What emerges is the gaping chasm between what the best teachers do and how we go about evaluating what they've done.
The New York Times Book Review - Sebastian Stockman
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. Agent: Alia Hanna Habib, McCormick & Williams. (Aug.)
"Everyone who cares about teaching should read [
Building a Better Teacher]. Right away."
"Green has spent years looking at what makes a great teacher—and whether the teachers we remember most fondly were born great or simply learned key skills."
"In vivid detail, Elizabeth Green chronicles the long, uncertain, but ultimately promising efforts, based on research, to improve teaching in American schools."
"At the heart of Green’s exploration is a powerfully simple idea: that teaching is not some mystical talent but a set of best practices that can be codified and learned through extensive hands-on coaching, self-scrutiny, and collaboration."
The Atlantic - Sara Mosle
"In this fascinating and accessible book, Elizabeth Green tells the story of the country's leading researchers on the all-important questions of what makes for an effective classroom teacher and how teachers can be trained to do their jobs better. That the story feels completely fresh is testament not only to Green’s skill as a reporter and writer but also to how beside-the-point much of the national conversation about education is. Green’s book ought to persuade the country to focus on what really matters in education."
"Elizabeth Green reveals, in cinematic detail, what makes great teaching such a dazzling intellectual challenge—and why it has taken us so unforgivably long to care. A must-read book for every American teacher and taxpayer."
"Great education is the foundation of a flourishing society, and it depends on great teachers.
Building a Better Teacher illuminates how we can develop gifted educators who prepare children for a brighter future. With strong evidence and compelling cases, Elizabeth Green has written an important book that every educator ought to read."
"Timely… Elizabeth Green shows herself to be a talented young journalist."
"Peek[s] into real classrooms, allowing readers to observe what great teachers do and how."
Boston Globe - Kate Tuttle
"Both a history of the research on effective teaching as well as a consideration of how that research might best be implemented. What emerges is the gaping chasm between what the best teachers do and how we go about evaluating what they’ve done."
New York Times Book Review - Sebastian Stockman
"[Green] makes the case through thoughtful details that great teachers are made, not born… she brings hope and renewal to the field."
Are exceptional teachers born with that gift, or can they be made? Green (cofounder, CEO, and editor in chief of nonprofit education news organization Chalkbeat) looks at both the history of teacher improvement efforts and current thinking and practice in teacher training and evaluation. The author acknowledges that inborn traits such as warmth and humor influence effectiveness. She also explores how effective teachers move students toward understanding and how their methods can be generalized to yield improved classroom techniques for almost anyone. From the Japanese practice of jugyokenkyu ("lesson study") to the creatively named TKOT ("This Kind of Teaching"), Green looks at how excellent teachers do it. Many of the author's examples are drawn from Teach for America and Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) and other charter school programs as they struggle to reach lofty educational goals, often with tight budgets and novice teachers. VERDICT This isn't a "how-to" book with checklists for making average teachers into educational stars, but contained within the well-documented narrative are many informational nuggets that motivated teachers can apply to their work. Principals and school administrators may find this work useful when planning meaningful professional development or teacher evaluation programs. [See Prepub Alert, 2/3/14.] —Maggie Knapp, Trinity Valley Sch., Fort Worth, TX
Ideas from a former principal on what makes for anexceptional teacher.Accountability and autonomy are the two guiding lights forprescribing changes in our schools, and as Green notes early on in this book,the two principles are often at loggerheads. Accountability proponents believein leveraging the power of data to study which teachers' students are meetingor exceeding goals; opponents claim that it stultifies educators, diminishingthe profession, and ineffectively measuring teacher and student "success."Autonomy proponents believe that if you elevate the profession and let theteachers steer their ships, the trust, freedom and respect will enable them todo their very best. Green gives both of these views credence but goes furtherto suggest that the reverence surrounding the best teachers is misguided, inthat it elevates the "natural born educator" mythos that suggests an inborntalent. Green deflates the "I could never do what they do" aura of the bestteachers, but in a good way. In extensive conversations and observations thatuncover the approaches that the best educators share, she distills how theyapply those approaches in similar ways despite differences inextraversion/introversion, humorous/serious teaching approaches, and flexible/rigidstandards. Green goes deeper than bromides about student engagement and motivation,digging into data about student success as well as examining the means used tocollect the data. She also chronicles her visits with professionals at multiplelevels (administrative, support, frontline teachers) through various successesand failures, gleaning wisdom from both—just as the best teachers would havetheir students do.A powerful, rational guidebook to creating genuinelyeffective education, written in a manner useful not just for schoolteachers,but everyone involved in the care of children.