"Building a Better Teacher" by Elizabeth Green* and published in the New York Times on the 3rd March 2010 is an excellent article to read! [although 9 online pages long!]
In essence, Green reports on Doug Lemov's investigations on what makes "a quality teacher". Lemov explored the problem of different student outcomes based [as collated through standardised American tests] solely on the quality of teacher classroom management, after all the other extraneous elements were accounted for. Lemov has created his taxonomy of good classroom management [The official title, attached to a book version being released in April, is “Teach Like a Champion: The 49 Techniques That Put Students on the Path to College.”]. You can read some segments of the book (PDF) here to get an idea of the classroom management techniques explored.
Lemov ignores the content of the lesson and concentrates purely on the classroom management techniques as a way that all teachers can teach and all students can learn.
But what about the passion of the content? What about the way content is delivered to students?
However, the article is balanced as it provides another dimension. Green goes on to ask the question... "Is good classroom management enough to ensure good instruction?" She describes the work of Heather Hill, an associate professor at Harvard University, who realised that even if a teacher has good pedagogical techniques but they don't know their subject matter very well - then students still do badly on standarised testing.
Hill is a member of a group of educators, who, like Lemov, are studying great teachers. But whereas Lemov came out of the practical world of the classroom, this group is based in university research centers. And rather than focus on universal teaching techniques that can be applied across subjects and grade levels, Hill and her colleagues ask what good teachers should know about the specific subjects they teach.
The wellspring of this movement was Michigan State’s school of education, which, under the direction of Judith Lanier, one of the original Holmes Group members, took the lead in rethinking teacher education. Lanier overhauled Michigan State’s teacher-preparation program and helped open two research institutes dedicated to the study of teaching and teacher education. She recruited innovative scholars from around the country, and almost overnight East Lansing became a hotbed of education research. (Green, 2010, NY Times, p 6)
This group of researchers consider both the mechanics of teaching as well as teachers knowing their subject matter as essential to be a quality teacher.
I think it is extremely important to give all teachers Professional Development (Teacher Professional Learning - TPL) in pedagogy. Lemov's taxonomy could be a good tool especially for student and beginning teachers but teachers also need to know their subject material very well and be passionate about it!
One way to address both these requirements is to use great WebQuests - they have sound pedagogical techniques behind them (Problem Based Learning, Higher Order Thinking Skills, Constructivism, Cooperative Learning, Social and Emotional Learning) and the content should have been created in such a way to get students to think and become passionate about the learning.
*Elizabeth Green is a Spencer fellow in education reporting at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and the editor of GothamSchools.org.
Here is some video examples from the Uncommon Schools that use Lemov's Taxonomy as classroom management techniques