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Ideas For Better Teaching

April 7, 2017

As a long time fan of the self-help classic The One Minute Manager book and series I was delighted to find THE ONE MINUTE TEACHER: How To Teach Others To Teach Themselves by Spencer Johnson and Constance Johnson (William Morrow, 1986). This short volume running a mere 108 pages takes the general ideal of the one minute manager and applies them in the realm of education. Using the familiar parable technique followed up by summaries and charts for review and clarification the book focuses first on applying to the concepts for the student and then moves to the perspective of the teacher.

The basic outline is One Minute Goals, One Minute Praising, and One Minute Recoveries. These general principles are fleshed out with short, pithy reminders like ” I know I am not mt behavior” (p.96) and “We are at our best when we each teach ourselves what we need to learn” (p. 14) This book is designed for those who have a clear philosophy of teaching in mind and who will be encouraged to fine tine their practice, it is not a teaching text in and of itself.  I personally found a bit of over emphasis on the concept of “Good Feeling” but found the book helpful over all. If we view different teaching strategies like tools in a tool box to be used as appropriate to a particular student/classroom situation will find this not a “hammer or screwdriver” but a very useful wrench for a very specific task. This book was so well received by leading advocates for teachers including a U.S. Secretary of Education, the head of a university teacher training program and president of the American Foundation of Teachers that even if you disagree with some of the assumptions it is worth reading to be able to acquire the vocabulary and background to join the conversation.

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