It would be difficult, if not impossible, to capture and evaluate all of the many ways in which people throughout history have attempted to prepare teachers for their profession. If teacher preparation were a pie, you would have to stand very far back to take a picture of the whole thing. Thus, although Elizabeth Green cuts us a sizable helping in BUILDING A BETTER TEACHER, she inevitably falls short of her ambitious subtitle, How Teaching Works (and How to Teach It to Everyone).
However, Green succeeds brilliantly at illuminating an important aspect of the work that many have overlooked: namely, how intellectually challenging it is to teach. While some may argue about whether great teachers are born or made (Green argues they can be made, and I agree), it’s rare to find a book that shines as bright a light as Green does on the complex, myriad decisions that a typical teacher must make from moment to moment and consequently, how difficult it is to prepare someone to do that work well.
In short: Green provides engaging descriptions of some of the most prominent efforts across America to improve teacher training, and indeed, those stories are fascinating. But ultimately I think the primary value of this book is how clearly it demonstrates just how challenging it is to teach effectively. And that is a truly vital message.