Teach Like a Champion is about the belief that the solutions to education challenges exist in the classrooms of real life teachers, that exceptional practitioners of the art of teaching are the true experts. Our job is to find them, study them, and share what they do, so others can copy, practice and adapt it to their own teaching.
Our mission is to dramatically improve teaching. By studying outstanding teachers and leaders and sharing what we learn from them, we aim to help schools create classrooms that are radically better for children, especially in communities where systemic inequities and discrimination have left students with limited access to an education worthy of their highest aspirations.
On this site you’ll find resources to help you and the teachers you support be inspired by and learn from exceptional educators. We aim to help you love the process of studying teaching and practicing, and, ultimately, to love the work by doing it well.
In the Beginning
It started with Doug, his notebook, and a set of questions: Which schools serving high need students are getting the best results? Which teachers in those schools are doing exceptional work? And what is it exactly those teachers are doing? Directed by the data, Doug camped out in the back of these exceptional teachers’ classrooms to observe and seek to identify what they were doing that explained the trend-defying results they were getting. As Doug spent more time in classrooms he began to notice some commonalities: an outstanding 3rd grade teacher in upstate New York was doing the same thing as that outstanding middle school teacher in New Jersey. Early on, Doug realized that naming and describing these teacher moves would not only allow educators to talk about the craft of teaching more efficiently but that coupling description with short, focused video clips of the actual teachers with their students would allow the moves to be taught and learned. Yes, intuitively gifted teachers exist. But by learning from, imitating, then adapting the specific, concrete actions of the best teachers, all teachers can become great.
Doug named the collection of techniques The Taxonomy of Effective Teaching Practices—to communicate the heuristic benefits of classification and to signal the parallel to artists who start with a humble set of tools and fundamental technique and then, once mastered, create beautiful, original art. As Norm Atkins has described elsewhere, in the early days, the twenty-page document was passed around from teacher to teacher, school leader to school leader, like samizdat. For old-school users of Doug’s work, the Teach Like a Champion techniques are still called “The Taxonomy.” Encouraged to formalize the techniques in a book, Doug wrote Teach Like a Champion. In March 2010, the publication of the book and a cover story that ran in The New York Times Magazine resulted in an explosion of interest.
Teach Like a Champion Today
Today, Doug now co-leads the organization with Darryl Williams–one of the original champion teachers Doug studied.
We are committed to the active study of research of cognitive and social sciences to better inform the tools that we describe and everything that teachers do in the classroom. Access to teaching informed by science is an equity issue. Further, we are deeply committed as an organization to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We believe that our techniques and practices can be powerful tools to assist in the fight for equity and excellence. Our team consistently reviews our content, books, videos, and workshops to ensure that our techniques uplift, honor, and dignify the students our teachers serve.
Teach Like a Champion is not a static set of techniques, but constantly evolving. We continually study footage of teachers from around the world who take, adapt, and improve our techniques which then informs the new guidance we disseminate. In our commitment to ensure schools can deliver on their promises to students and families, our work has expanded to include:
- Reading Reconsidered English curriculum
- Dean of Students character development curriculum
- Multi-year partnerships
- Variety of online and in-person training tools and resources for teachers and leaders
Today our resources are used in schools across the United States–from Alaska to Florida, from Hawaii to New York–and around the world–from Chile to India, Australia to South Africa, China to England. As we continue to grow, we draw from our core expertise: Studying and describing great teaching, breaking that greatness down into concrete, replicable actions, then designing resources to make it manageable and accessible.
We believe that all teachers can learn the concrete actions that allow the opportunity gap to be narrowed lesson by lesson, classroom by classroom worldwide.