Many of Doug Lemov’s techniques are easily applied to homework help or communicating with teachers:

Cold calling: When teachers call on all kids irrespective of hand raising, the entire class is engaged because anyone may be called on anytime. Worried that your kid isn’t engaged in class? Ask your child’s teacher about how he or she chooses who speaks in class.

No opt out: Great teachers don’t allow kids to skip out on participation with a simple “I dunno.” If your child seems to be a non-participator, talk to the teacher about what can be done.

Positive framing: This means correcting students with positive statements. Try to model this with your child when helping with homework. Focus on the present and assume the best of intentions (not laziness or carelessness). Guide your child by offering corrections (“You can do it this way”) instead of criticism (“Don’t do it that way”).

Right is right: Don’t take a partially correct answer as correct. Even if your child has a teacher who doesn’t insist on fully correct answers, you can help your kid understand the idea of being truly right in conversations and projects. When your child makes a sloppy or less than true comment, ask questions to draw out a more complete and accurate answer.

Ratio: This refers to getting students to do more of the intellectual work as the lesson proceeds. Even though your child’s teacher may not be helping kids become more independent learners with this technique, you can use it at home in any situation where you’re teaching your child a new idea. First describe the idea, then talk about it, and gradually move through questioning, helping your kid think it through on their own.

The J factor: Teachers who are able to inject joy into their lessons (not as an aside) — adding unpredictibility, suspense, drama, and humor — are far more likely to open kids to learning and ensure that students remember the material. If your child is struggling with a subject, bring levity to the loathed subject matter with a song, dance, or joke. Your child’s teacher may not be skilled in the J factor, but you can practice it at home.

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