Doug Lemov's field notes

Reflections on teaching, literacy, coaching, and practice.

08.17.23Advocacy Partnerships: Studying the Craft of Teaching with Man Up, Memphis

Supporting a great organization…


As an organization, Teach Like a Champion has grown quite a bit over recent years and there are quite e few projects we’re involved in that even our faithful readers may not be aware of. In this blog post, Director of Advocacy and Partnerships, Brittany Hargrove describes our work with Man Up Memphis to help bring more men of color into the teaching profession and ensure their support and success.

Over the past few years, our team has been working alongside (and learning from) organizations that, like us, are fighting for a more just and equitable society by inspiring more effective teaching. These partnerships have been part of our team’s commitment to supporting organizations that ensure educators of color are positioned to impact and thrive in the school communities they serve. This blog series, which we’re calling “Advocacy Partnerships: Stories of Growth and Impact”, will chronicle what we’re learning from these amazing organizations and hopefully inform schools’ efforts to attract, nurture, retain, and advance the careers of educators of color.

First up in our blog series is an introduction to Man Up Memphis. Led by Dr. Patrick Washington along with Nicole Lytle and Sarah Isenhart, Man Up Memphis is a non-profit organization helping students succeed by providing an educator talent pipeline of men of color. Through our partnership with Man Up, we support the Fellows with development that will advance their expertise as classroom teachers. It’s critically important to get more men of color into the teaching profession; but it’s equally important to ensure their success once they get there, so that they rise in the field and so that they are master teachers and their students thrive. We have had the privilege of working alongside Man Up coaches, Dr. Mike Brown, Camile Melton Brown, Vaughn Thompson, and Jonathan Humphrey, who created Practice Lab opportunities for Fellows to continue to practice techniques and get real time feedback.  

This past year we spent time studying the technique of Active Observation with Fellows. The technique involves making intentional decisions about what to look for when observing student’s work in the classroom and maintaining discipline in looking for what you’ve prioritized. The goal of our Active Observation session was to help Fellows become more flexible and responsive to student work, so that their feedback was more specific and could ultimately lead to improved work quality. Man Up Fellow, Derrick Squaire, who is a dedicated mathematics teacher in his fifth year of teaching, graciously allowed us to learn from his expertise this past year.

The video below showcases Derrick’s journey implementing his learning and how Man Up’s investment in developing their fellows is paying off for students.



  • You’ll notice in the first clip that Derrick’s instinct to circulate and check-in with students as they’re working independently is spot on. Breaking the Plane and Circulating are important techniques for initial implementation of Active Practice. And you’ll see how his implementation then advances after practice.
  • One of the things that strikes us most about the practice in the second part of the video is how deliberate Man Up, Memphis is about structuring practice so that it’s practical and meaningful for Fellows. Notice how all Fellows are up, practicing together in parallel. This is a great way to build a positive and safe culture of practice. You’ll notice Derrick, highlighted in the clip, engaged deeply in the practice alongside his peers.
  • As you observe Derrick’s implementation of his learning back in his classroom, his Active Observation appears to have improved tenfold. You probably noticed that his feedback was more specific, that he was intentionally making sure he gets to each and every student, sharing feedback both privately and publicly with his class, and that he was capturing the data to drive future instruction.


We believe Derrick’s progress and growth can help answer a question that is critical to our organization: How do schools and organizations successfully attract, nurture, retain, and advance the careers of their educators of color? Research suggests that all students benefit from having diverse teachers, and for students of color, learning from teachers of color leads to better academic performance, improved graduation rates, and increases the prospect of college attendance[1]. It is critical for us to uplift and learn from the efforts of organizations like Man Up, who through their programming are providing not just a pipeline for educators of color to enter the field, but a real chance for Fellows to sustain their impact and outcomes for the communities they serve.

Man Up, Memphis isn’t alone in their charge. In fact, we’ve spent the better part of four years trying to learn as much as we can from other amazing organizations helping schools attract, nurture, retain, and advance the careers of educators of color. In addition to our partnership with Man Up, we’ve had the honor of learning with and from two additional organizations, Teachers Like Me and National Fellowship for Black and Latino Male Educators, who’ve also committed to ensuring exceptional educators of color can lend their talent, expertise, and wisdom to school communities that need them most.

In addition to providing the sustained training and coaching opportunities that we know lead to success for all educators, our Advocacy partners also give educators of color safe spaces to process and reflect on their experiences, access to an advocate within their school communities, and connection to an organizational culture where they feel belonging with their colleagues. These resources ultimately help determine whether educators of color remain and thrive in their school communities.

Over the next few months, we’ll continue our blog series, exploring the ideas and insights previewed above, with the hope that schools might adopt and adapt practices that better position them to attract, nurture, retain, and advance the careers of exceptional educators of color.

At TLAC, we believe teaching is the most important work in the world and that any contemplation of a more just and equitable society requires that classrooms and schools are radically better for children. We thank Man Up, Memphis and all our Advocacy partners for the incredible work they do on behalf of kids and families, and for helping us get smarter about teaching and learning.

For more information on our Advocacy partners and how you might support their efforts, please see below:

  • Teachers Like Me ( aims to increase the number of Black teachers by removing barriers to entry and providing the support needed to be effective and responsive to the academic and social needs of all students, specifically students of color. One-third of the schools in the Kansas City metro area do not have a teacher of color on campus and TLM is here to change that statistic.


  • National Fellowship for Black and Latino Male Educators’ ( purpose is to create a dynamic, life-changing, empowering fellowship for Black and Latino males that springboards them into principal, senior level, and C-suite roles, increasing the number, longevity, and impact of Black and Latino males in the education sector. Only 17% of CEOs in education are Black or Latino and the Fellowship aims to change this data.


  • Man Up Memphis’ ( mission to give students in high poverty, urban and rural communities, particularly male students of color, access to high quality male teachers and advancing policies that promote equity in K – 12 schools. As you know, 2% of educators are Black male educators. Man Up is charged with changing that narrative which we know has impacts both on the teacher but also on their students.


[1] David Blazar, Teachers of Color, Culturally Responsive Teaching, and Student Outcomes: Experimental Evidence from the Random Assignment of Teachers to Classes, 1-58.

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