The video does not seem remarkable on first viewing. A title informs us that we are watching Ashley Hinton, a teacher at Vailsburg Elementary, a school in Newark, New Jersey. Hinton, a blonde woman in a colourful silk scarf, stands before a class of eight- and nine-year-old boys and girls, almost all of whom are African-American. “What might a character be feeling in a story?” she asks. She repeats the question, before engaging her pupils in a high-tempo conversation about what it is like to read a book and why authors write them, as she moves smartly around her classroom.
On an October morning last year, I watched Doug Lemov play this video to a room full of teachers in the hall of an inner-London school. Many had brought their copy of Lemov’s book, Teach Like a Champion, which in the last five years has passed through the hands of thousands of teachers and infiltrated hundreds of staffrooms. To my eyes, the video of Hinton’s lesson was a glimpse into the classroom of an energetic and likable teacher, and pleasing enough. After leading a brief discussion, Lemov played it again, and then a third time.