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Practice Perfect: 42 Rules for Getting Better at Getting Better
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 26 September 2012
For several decades, Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University have been conducting research on peak performance, and he began to attract attention after the publication of a Harvard Business Review article, The Making of an Expert (July/August 2007), he co-authored with Michael J. Prietula and Edward T. Cokely. They observe, "Before practice, opportunity, and luck can combine to create expertise, the would-be expert needs to demythologize the achievement of top-level performance, because the notion that genius is born, not made, is deeply ingrained. It's perhaps most perfectly exemplified in the person of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who is typically presented as a child prodigy with exceptional innate musical genius. Nobody questions that Mozart's achievements were extraordinary compared with those of his contemporaries. What's often forgotten, however, is that his development was equally exceptional for his time. His musical tutelage started before he was four years old, and his father, also a skilled composer, was a famous music teacher and had written one of the first books on violin instruction. Like other world-class performers, Mozart was not born an expert--he became one." With rare exception, the research suggests that peak performance requires at least 10,000 of highly disciplined ("deep, deliberate, sharply focused") practice under expert supervision in combination with being in the right circumstances at the right time.

All this serves to help introduce Practice Perfect, the latest of several excellent books whose authors or co-authors discuss the meaning and significance of revelations for which the research of Ericsson and his associates is primarily responsible and duly acknowledged. Doug Lemov, Erica Woolway, and Katie Yezzi introduce and discuss "42 rules for getting better at getting better" and devote a separate chapter to each, organizing them within six sections:

RETHINKING PRACTICE (Rules 1-8)
Example: #7 Differentiate Drill from Scrimmage
Comment: There are significant differences between iterative practice of a drill and correct application of it.

HOW TO PRACTICE (9-14)
Example: #14 Make Each Minute Matter
Comment: Activity often wastes time whereas productivity never does.

USING MODELING (15-22)
Example: #22 Get Ready for Your Close Up
Comment: Make certain that the example you set or select is memorable...and relevant.

FEEDBACK (23-30)
Example: #23 Practice Using Feedback (Nit Just Getting It)
Comment: Beware of the "Knowing-Doing Gap."

CULTURE OF PRACTICE (31-37)
Example: #33 Make It Fun to Practice
Comment: "Work without joy is drudgery. Drudgery does not produce champions, nor does it produce great organizations." John Wooden

POST-PRACTICE: MAKING THE NEW SKILLS STICK (38-42)
Example: #40 Keep Talking
Comment: Name the discrete skills and drills that you practice.

Then in the final section, CONCLUSION: THE MONDAY MORNING TEST, Lemov, Woolway, and Yezzi recommend specific rules for organizations, for a mentee or small team, and for the reader ("yourself"). Then in Appendix, they suggest teaching techniques from Lemov's book, Teach Like a Champion, and in Appendix B, sample practice activities.

With all due respect to the books written by Geoff Colvin (Talent Is Overrated), Daniel Coyle (The Talent Code and The Little Book of Talent), and Malcolm Gladwell (Outliers) -- duly cited with appreciation by Lemov, Woolway, and Yezzi -- I think Practice Perfect is the single best source for information, insights, and advice on how to apply what Ericsson's research has revealed. That is, how to use the aforementioned highly disciplined ("deep, deliberate, sharply focused") practice under expert supervision -- in combination with being in the right circumstances at the right time -- to achieve peak performance.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 8 December 2013
This was a great follow-on read from Matthew Sayed's "Bounce". Central to the book is the idea that although practice is vital in mastering a skill, it is not enough. It has to be designed properly, with a clear objective, immediate feedback and assessment of its effectiveness. Skills need to be isolated, practised and then integrated and practised again with other skills. Lemov defines his terms with helpful precision, and also encourages the reader to give names to the different types of practice activities they use. His business is school leadership and teacher training, but I found many of the "Rules" very relevant to my own field of foreign language teaching, and could also imagine it being helpful for those involved in sport, music, mathematics, or indeed business. The spelling of the verb "to practice" is correct in US spelling, and I got used to it, though no doubt it will provoke the usual outrage among certain UK readers! I found the book such worthwhile reading that I decided to put away my remaining prejudices and read his slightly nauseatingly titled "Teach like a Champion", which is equally inspiring for those who want evidence-based teaching techniques which will work for anyone.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 31 October 2013
I enjoyed the book and the strong message that no matter what your field, intelligent practice will see you improve. Some of the references to other fields may still be little obscure and appear irrelevant or difficult to apply to every setting. The balance of teaching and non-teaching examples used to overcome this was interesting to read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 14 November 2014
So good! This book is packed with powerful insights about learning. Some of the ideas challenge dominant practices, but they are well evidenced and Doug and the guys are highly credible > I am a teacher educator, and have been working in the field for many years > this is a future classic.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 2 November 2014
This is an excellent book that raises lots of practical points for teachers considering their professional development. It is well researched and has an easy style. Highly recommended for teachers and more.
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on 9 August 2015
As stated by others - if you coach, teach,manage buy this book. (It would be good if more employers who claim to 'coach' their employees took note of what is written here as well.) I found myself as I read this book thinking " I wish I had read this page yesterday then I could have used this in my coaching session". Once you have read this book I don't think you will teach/coach the same way again. I know I won't.
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on 24 February 2015
For anyone interested or involved in coaching/teaching this is a god send, so good I purchased the audio book as well. A book full of light bulb moments.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 21 August 2013
I gave it 4 stars because it is rather too intense for me. It lays down ways to ensure, belt, braces, staples and nails etc what to do to ensure excellence. It would need a lot of work to set up a development programme to ensure teachers could follow through and almost certainly, a whole school commitment to the processes. But, I have used some of these ideas, before I read the book, and they made a very great impact on my school.
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on 11 May 2015
Every headteacher should read this.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 10 August 2013
The book was interesting but not really groundbreaking information. However very well explained with easy-to-read data especially for management and team-leaders
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