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The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules For Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child Paperback

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The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules For Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child + The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children + The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck--101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers (Touchstone Book)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Hyperion; Reprint edition (July 21, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786888164
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786888160
  • Product Dimensions: 7.5 x 5 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (229 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,761 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The winner of the 2001 Disney Teacher of the Year Award presents some revolutionary ideas for the classroom: manners, industriousness and accountability. Many of the 55 rules Clark outlines read, at first, like excerpts from a 1950's primer: "If you are asked a question in conversation, you should ask a question in return," says Rule 6; stand to the right on escalators, insists Rule 43; and rule 29 includes 26 sub-rules about polite eating. Clark may seem like a bit of a fussbudget, but closer examination shows his rules go beyond simple politeness: they promote respect for self and others, and help foster a mature and responsible way of living in the world. As Clark explains each rule, he weaves in anecdotes of student projects, class trips (including one to Washington, D.C., where his students sang Christmas carols with the Clintons) and instances in which the particular rule proved invaluable. Clark, a North Carolina native, writes with a warm, Southern friendliness, and his cogent explanations about why he created his rules and his closing tips on dealing with parents and children offer plenty of ideas and much-needed support. Teachers will have to be determined to succeed before any set of guidelines will have an effect in the classroom, he warns-and indeed, Clark's tireless dedication might be daunting to some. And while the content of his lessons is presented only vaguely, for inspiration, this book is a definite winner; it also makes a strong case that students lack only good teachers to achieve great things. Clark's slim but valuable volume will make a welcome addition to any teacher's library.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


"Clark's book is a handy blueprint for parents who want to equip their elementary- and middle-school children..." -- Time magazine --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Ron Clark has been a teacher since 1995. Originally from North Carolina, he has taught in some of the most difficult schools in the country, most recently in Harlem, New York. Since winning the 2001 Disney Teacher of the Year Award, Clark has spoken to teachers, PTAs, and school boards across the country. He lives in Atlanta.

Customer Reviews

Bravo, Ron Clark!
Joanna Daneman
His honesty about the triumphs and challenges of being an educator is refreshing--this book would make a wonderful gift for every teacher and parent you know.
Kimberly Stewart
I highly recommend this book to new and veteran teachers.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

131 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Joanna Daneman #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 10 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ron Clark teaches school. He has 55 rules of "engagement" for anything from good manners (Don't take the largest piece of pie, Always say Thank-You, Make Eye Contact) to rules of responsibility and deportment (Enter the field trip building silently, Do not talk in the movies, unwrap your candy before the film to keep from disturbing others.)
These rules teach his students to be polite and attentive, to understand if they don't hand in assignments, there will be consequences (even if the assignment is just a little blue card they have to return to him the next day.) But Ron is no martinet--he has weird rules (No Doritos, just because...and a funny story to make the rule amusing.) His War of the Onions against a sadly jealous fellow teacher is both hysterically funny and touching.
Ron Clark shows the world that kids anywhere can learn to be well-brought up and polite, that manners and rules help them succeed. He makes the very important point that a teacher is an important influence since he or she is with those kids for more time during the day than the parents.
This book is fun to read and is a great story. It is also a MUST-READ for any school teacher who wants to excel with their students and give them something of tremendous value to carry them through the rest of their lives with honor and grace--good manners and good behavior.
Bravo, Ron Clark!
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103 of 121 people found the following review helpful By Linda B Dunlap on April 29, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Manners, Respect and Discipline are the cornerstones of success in Ron Clark's classroom. In his first book, The Essential 55, he shares the secrets of that success. Disney Teacher of the Year, Ron Clark has the uncanny ability to instill fun and adventure into every learning opportunity. Daily he shares with his students an unbridled curiosity about the world! However at the start of their journey together, Ron conveys to the class the 55 essential expectations that he has for them. For example, he instructs them in how to give a firm handshake, look people in the eye, and eat properly using the rules of etiquette. His classes learn to respect themselves and others. Chart busting academic scores have been the result for his classes of low performing students from North Carolina to New York City. In The Essential 55 Mr. Clark provides guidelines for living both inside and outside the classroom. He exhorts young and old alike to embrace each day with heart and vigor, appreciate and encourage others and challenge themselves to achieve their potential. Read how Ron Clark convinces his students to seek lives of abundant adventure and fulfillment. I highly recommend this extraordinary book!
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268 of 334 people found the following review helpful By Dave on August 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Where is the Smoking Gun website when you need them?

Since I am sure they are currently off debunking Frey's "A Million Little Pieces," it is my unhappy duty to inform potential buyers of this book that you are about to be had. While P.T. Barnum may say "There's one born every minute," I say as a teacher and a one-time school board member, "When you know something is wrong, fix it."

There is something wrong with this book.

Look at the subtitle. See "An Award-Winning Educator's Rules..."? Do you see anywhere that Mr. Clark's "Disney Teacher of the Year Award" was granted to him by his publisher? The listed publisher, Hyperion books, is a division of Disney. Go ahead. Take a minute and type Disney and Hyperion into any search engine. You will find that they are one in the same. A little shocking isn't it?

After reading "The Essential 55" today, I was absolutely stunned. Instead of the light list of feel good stories I expected, I was paraded past a whole host of teaching sins that would have gotten any teacher in America fired; except Mr. Clark. What magic defended this man who would use children as stepping stones to a publishing and speaking career? Fame, possibly?

It appears Mr. Clark began innocently enough when his students decided to raise $12,000 needed to place an ad in USA Today. They met little success until an "anonymous" donator footed the bill. The ad was printed with a question directed towards then President Clinton and the world. The response was huge. Along with the President, such luminaries as the Prime Minister of Canada and the cast of "Friends" sent in responses. So far, so good.

The success of this stunt led Mr. Clark to believe that he walked on water. And he did.
Read more ›
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40 of 47 people found the following review helpful By D. LEE HUDSON on May 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
After reading several other books similar to Ron Clark's no other book gave me the knowledge I needed to help me in the classroom. The author uses many personal situations to explain 55 things that help him in the classroom. Not only is this a MUST READ for teachers, but will help anyone in their daily lives. GREAT BOOK and fun to read!
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63 of 77 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
After it's all said and done, I find simple is always better. In teaching students how to write, I try to get them to feel their heart and soul in a essay or story but to keep it pure and simple. This is what I have found to be true in Ron Clark's book. Loving, caring and making kids feel proud of who they are is one of the highlights in The Essential 55. It is not only for teachers but parents would benefit from it as well. It's easy to see why he won the Disney's American Teacher Award. Showing kids why or how they will be in certain situations and then clearly preparing them for a future under those upcoming circumstances is what most teachers try to accomplish but often times, miss the boat in connecting with the students. I find his work to be inspirational and warm. It makes all of us want to do better for kids and life in general. He chose to pick up the forgotten and encourage them to listen and be all they can be and even more. I read most of the time; it's my life. In looking at other authors and their success, it seems that they all have one thing in common, beleiving in themselves and sharing their passion to inspire others to beleive. Two of my other favorite and highly recommended books for teachers and parents are similar in passion and spirit about reaching out to kids: The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander, by Barbara Coloroso, 2003 (leaves no questions unanswered) and Mommy-CEO, updated book, 2001 by syndicated family columnist, Jodie Lynn (book is on family issues and school as an integral part). Every school library, city library, bookstore and every home should have all three books. Read them and you shall get answers that will behoove any current situation - in school or at home - and condition thinking patterns that need to be changed for kids and family from this day forward. THANKS TO ALL OF THE AUTHORS AND ONWARD for more books!
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