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Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56 Hardcover – January 18, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“Rafe Esquith is my only hero.”—Sir Ian McKellan
“Politicians, burbling over how to educate the underclass, would do well to stop by Rafe Esquith’s fifth grade class as it mounts its annual Shakespeare play. Sound like a grind? Listen to the peals of laughter bouncing off the classroom walls.”—Time
“Esquith is a modern-day Thoreau, preaching the value of good work, honest self-reflection, and the courage to go one’s own way.”—Newsday
Top Customer Reviews
I think of it as being in the zone, Esquith labels it "ignoring the crap," either way, this gifted teacher had a transcendental moment that altered his educational philosophy forever and his influence is rapidly spreading into classrooms across the globe. Part quixotic and possibly part "mad," he has transformed his 5th grade class, of mainly ESL students, into Shakespeare-quoting individuals who have learned how to take charge of their own learning.
Esquith's book challenges such issues as the obsession with high-stakes testing, unresponsive administrators, ineffective professional development opportunities, and the "demons" that take away our energy and spirit. At the heart of his "cookbook" is getting students to take responsibility for their actions and to value failure as an integral part of the learning process.
Check out this book because it explores the realities of teaching difficult students, as opposed to your typical educational log of impractical theories. Pick up this book if you agree with his classroom motto of, "Be nice, work hard. There are no shortcuts." Finally, purchase this book if the biggest fear for your students is that they become ordinary.
Lastly, what really motivated me to buy this book was that Esquith hasn't been lured out of the classroom. Instead, he continues to embrace his mission of finding the different keys it takes to ignite each of his students.
Michael James D'Amato, author of "The Classroom"
OK, so what is it you're looking for from a book like this? If you're more in it for Rafe's STORY and for what goes on his classroom, have a ball. If you're more in it for selfish reasons -- that is, methods you might emulate yourself in the classroom, proceed with care. There's no denying the book contains some useful advice and methods, but it also devotes much attention to matters beyond the realm and finances of most teachers -- full-play productions of Shakespeare, field trips that involve airplane flights (not buses) cross country, film festivals and book clubs held after school or at 6:30 in the morning. Clearly this is a devoted man and, by comparison, some teachers may feel depressed by all he pulls off (while still maintaining a life of his own).
Highlights for me were the Six Levels (in which Rafe explains wrong reasons and right reasons that kids obey their teachers), the well-thought out attack on standardized testing (the bane of any school), and the overall iconoclastic tone. Also, a few of his ideas were illuminating. True, there were not a lot of practical ideas for the classroom, but there were some and some are bound to be of use for teacher/readers.Read more ›
Esquith writes in a readable style that is entertaining and informative. The title itself shows this, but the point of the story about his hair being caught on fire is how he became so engrossed in helping a student with her science experiment that he didn't even realize what was happening to him. The student was also really impacted by his concern. Esquith uses many examples from his own students and experience throughout the book. An example of this would be when he describes his field trips to Washington D.C. He details, very specifically, what works for his class and why it is important not to overwhelm the kids with so many things to do.
However, Esquith is a very exceptional teacher. He puts in over 12 hours a day, from the early morning to late at night, helping students who need additional help and providing before-school and after-school activities. It is evident that his extra time and effort is well-worth it, because he is helping under-privileged ESL students become world-renowned Hobart Shakespeareans. Many teachers will not have that time or level of dedication to commit to our careers, but I found some very practical suggestions which I could see incorporating into my classroom someday.
First, I liked his theory of packing learning into every moment of every day. From the moment his students walk into the door in the morning they are learning and Esquith keeps up the momentum throughout the day. He packs as much in by incorporating material from different subjects into one activity, even in art and music.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I liked the book. Sad to see all the problems Rafe is having with the school system now.Published 28 days ago by Liz Massa
I absolutely LOVE this book!!! Easy and engaging read and wonderful for teachers of all ages. Wonderful condition and service.Published 5 months ago by hollagirl89
This book was not bad. It didn't wow me like I had hoped it would though. There was something a little too self-congratulatory about the narrators voice that didn't really hook me... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Chrissy Granados
Amazing book! I am an education student so i have to read this book the semester and I absolutely love it.Published 7 months ago by Tiffany N.