Sunday, May 1, 2011

Book Review: Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire

Title: Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire
Author: Rafe Esquith

Product Description

From one of America’s most celebrated educators, an inspiring guide to transforming every child’s education

In a Los Angeles neighborhood plagued by guns, gangs, and drugs, there is an exceptional classroom known as Room 56. The fifth graders inside are first-generation immigrants who live in poverty and speak English as a second language. They also play Vivaldi, perform Shakespeare, score in the top 1 percent on standardized tests, and go on to attend Ivy League universities. Rafe Esquith is the teacher responsible for these accomplishments. From the man whom The New York Times calls "a genius and a saint" comes a revelatory program for educating today’s youth. In Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire!, Rafe Esquith reveals the techniques that have made him one of the most acclaimed educators of our time. The two mottoes in Esquith’s classroom are "Be Nice, Work Hard," and "There Are No Shortcuts." His students voluntarily come to school at 6:30 in the morning and work until 5:00 in the afternoon. They learn to handle money responsibly, tackle algebra, and travel the country to study history. They pair Hamlet with rock and roll, and read the American classics. Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire! is a brilliant and inspiring road map for parents, teachers, and anyone who cares about the future success of our nation’s children.
My Thoughts

This was a great read. I took away some excellent ideas from this book. I think I took about six pages of notes with ideas, projects, and little phrases to remind me why I teach students for a living. This guy does it all. He is an amazing teacher and has done some really great things with his students. Teachers like him are not typical. I kept reading the book thinking that this project would be great or I could tweak this idea and to this. At the end I had to step back because I already do a lot. I have more projects going on right now than probably what I should. This guy goes above and beyond. Honestly, he must spend almost all of his time doing these projects. That is the problem. I don't have from 6:30 - 5:00 every single day to be at school like this guy. Now I put in way too many hours as is because I will be working from home on my computer late into the night getting things ready, emailing students, working on projects, etc.

One quote that stood out to me was, "Children do not mind a tough teacher, but they despise an unfair one." This is so true. Students don't lie. Just listen to them talk in the hallways and you will be able to identify the status of teachers. Every school has them. Those teachers that are bias. Don't think for a minute students don't recognize it. Many times they recognize things that the teachers don't.

I liked the chapter on Lawrence Kohlberg's Six Level of Moral Development. This really caught my eye and I want to study more on this and move my class atmosphere more towards level six. 

This is a read that will provide some good ideas and projects. Don't compare yourself, but reflect on what you can do better. Rafe is his own and we have to be our teacher with our own style and our own unique way of teaching. Teach like your hair is on fire. Don't lose your passion and never forget why we do what we do every single day even when people don't give us enough credit and days seem hopeless. Thanks Rafe for a book that helped me to remind myself that we must continue to reach out to all of our students.
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