Book written by 2010 Abe Journalism Fellow Elizabeth Green based on her project “Teaching to Learn: What the U.S. Can Learn from Japan’s Approach to Public Education.”

A 2014 New York Times Book Review Notable Book

We’ve all had great teachers who opened new worlds, maybe even changed our lives. What made them so great?

Everyone agrees that a great teacher can have an enormous
impact. Yet we still don’t know what, precisely, makes a teacher great.
Is it a matter of natural-born charisma? Or does exceptional teaching
require something more?

Building a Better Teacher
introduces a new generation of educators exploring the intricate science
underlying their art. A former principal studies the country’s star
teachers and discovers a set of common techniques that help children pay
attention. Two math teachers videotape a year of lessons and develop an
approach that has nine-year-olds writing sophisticated mathematical
proofs. A former high school teacher works with a top English instructor
to pinpoint the key interactions a teacher must foster to initiate a
rich classroom discussion. Through their stories, and the hilarious and
heartbreaking theater that unfolds in the classroom every day, Elizabeth
Green takes us on a journey into the heart of a profession that impacts
every child in America.

What happens in the classroom of a great
teacher? Opening with a moment-by-moment portrait of an everyday math
lesson—a drama of urgent decisions and artful maneuvers—Building a Better Teacher
demonstrates the unexpected complexity of teaching. Green focuses on
the questions that really matter: How do we prepare teachers and what
should they know before they enter the classroom? How does one get young
minds to reason, conjecture, prove, and understand? What are the keys
to good discipline? Incorporating new research from cognitive
psychologists and education specialists as well as intrepid classroom
entrepreneurs, Green provides a new way for parents to judge what their
children need in the classroom and considers how to scale good ideas.
Ultimately, Green discovers that good teaching is a skill. A skill that
can be taught.

A provocative and hopeful book, Building a Better Teacher shows that legendary teachers are more than inspiring; they are perhaps the greatest craftspeople of all.

Publication Details

Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone)
Green, Elizabeth
W.W. Norton
Publish Date
August 2014
Green, Elizabeth, Building a Better Teacher: How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone) (W.W. Norton, August 2014).