anyone read "teach like your hair's on fire"?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by modgirl, Apr 23, 2007.

  1. modgirl

    modgirl Rookie

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    Apr 23, 2007

    someone told me about this book and i was intrigued. it's by rafe esquith. it seems to have mixed reviews...on one hand it's praised that he's a super dedicated teacher, on the other hand, some teachers seemed depressed because they can't feasibly do all that he can do, nor have the time to do so.

    i hope to start teaching elementary in the fall, as a first year teacher. would this book be inspirational and helpful, or be super unrealistic and offer impractical tips?

    two cents from anyone who's read this would be awesome!!!

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/cu.../104-2859767-8641564?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books
     
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  3. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    I haven't read this one, but I have read his other text (There Are No Shortcuts); I will probably eventually read Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire.

    I wouldn't discourage you from reading Esquith--as a first year teacher, no, it isn't likely that your students will be doing all that his do, but it is fascinating to read about the struggles he encountered as a first year teacher and the changes he has made since those struggles. Esquith doesn't wallow in self-pity and he isn't as self-serving as many of the other education memoir authors I've read--he is matter of fact about his program, his students, his school, etc. and I find that refreshing.

    My only "complaint" would be that as a special education teacher who works with students with quite significant disabilities, much of Esquith's programming is in no way feasible for my students. The concept of special education is not addressed anywhere in There Are No Shortcuts.
     
  4. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    In Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire, Rafe Esquith is at pains to note that he's not prescribing that everyone teach exactly as he does. What he seems to suggest, though, is that students in his class exceed what others expect of them partly because he expects more of them and partly because he expects much more of himself, and delivers. It's also the case that he builds a community in which the kids know that they are known and safe and in which every one of them has a part and a value.

    Now I'm not sure a school can handle more than one Rafe Esquith. And I don't think it's the case that anyone who doesn't do all the the things that Rafe Esquith does is doing things wrong. But he clearly has thought a great deal about what needs to happen in his classroom and why; this is the sort of teacher with respect to whom NCLB is simply irrelevant.

    I find myself wondering what would happen if you could sort of average his level of energy across a staff: what if, on a staff of 20 teachers, each committed to raising expectations and effort and insight by 5% a year? That doesn't sound like much, but after a couple of years the cumulative impact could be huge.
     
  5. modgirl

    modgirl Rookie

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    thanks for the reviews. i think i'll check it out at the library if they have it. any other recommended books for newbie teachers?
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Are you doing multiple subjects these days, or English, or whatever?
     
  7. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I loved Educating Esme. It is inspirational and sad, but realistic. It gives you a lot to think about!
     
  8. ellen_a

    ellen_a Groupie

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    This one made me laugh, but I thought it was really arrogant. I wasn't a huge fan.
     
  9. nc4th

    nc4th Rookie

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    The Essential 55 is a good first year teacher book by Ron Clark. It helps with classroom management.
     
  10. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Fred Jones is really good. I read his first chapter and felt he has a lot of good tips to share. I plan to read the rest of his book over summer.
     
  11. modgirl

    modgirl Rookie

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    i'm trying to do multiple subjects. hopefully i'll get my authorization soon!
     
  12. Tasha

    Tasha Phenom

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    I can see where certain things she did were a little more over the top than I would have done and a little arrogant. However, she took some things that would have totally made me crazy! I guess you pick your battles based on what matters to you.
    I have read The Essential 55 too and thought it was ok. My main problem is that I think it is excessive and overboard. About the first 20 rules were enough for me :)
     
  13. miss brave

    miss brave Rookie

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    Hello all, I'm new to this board but figured I'd jump in...

    I'm not a huge fan of Rafe Esquith. I found Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire to be a little big arrogant -- he's really big on telling you that his students want to be in school at all hours and over vacations and his students do this and that, obviously because he's a fabulous teacher, but I found it lacking in solid tips and advice: Well, how do I get my students to behave like that?!

    He also paints nearly every other teacher and administrator in his school as obstacles to his success. I suppose that's a common theme among "maverick" teachers who become hugely popular, but it's not reassuring to read when you're a new teacher who doesn't know how to rock the boat :)
     
  14. Mrs.Bran

    Mrs.Bran Comrade

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    I read this book, and I can appreciate it as someone who is really good at his job. He is obviously a dedicated teacher and he is what his students needs. He works very hard with a group of students who do not have all of the advantages of other students. I think he is inspiring, not that you have to do everything that he does, but to think outside of the box and give it your all. It is a worthy read.
     
  15. deserttrumpet

    deserttrumpet Comrade

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    I enjoyed the book. I have to agree that this guy is at least half crazy - but then aren't all teachers? There were a lot of things I wish I could us in my classroom but am unable to due to the fact I only see my kids 43 minutes a day. I have worked with a teacher who is probably crazy enough to try (and accomplish) half of the things this guy does. I'm sure that if I had half of his dedication and ambition I could accomplish a lot more with my students too, but hey, I like my weekends.
     
  16. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

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    He's a fabulous teacher, a little extreme, but the reasons for his rules were good, and I think any teacher could benefit from reading the book. Of course, modify those rules to suit your class.
     
  17. NMtchr

    NMtchr New Member

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    Essential 55


    Agree, The Essential 55 is a good read. But just as much for veterans as first year teachers. His rules do work! Consistency and enforcement are necessities.
     
  18. dillpickle

    dillpickle Rookie

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    Harry Wong's The First Days of School....read it. I loved it.
     
  19. DTM

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    There are no shortcuts , in my opinion, was a better read than Teach like your hair's on fire. As Esquith alludes to in ...shortcuts he spends considerable hours with his kids before and after school as well as on weekends and during the summer. I also put in some long hours, but not nearly to the extent that he does. I did find a lot of good tips in Teach like your..., some applicable to my second-graders, some not so applicable (Esquith teaches older children).

    I wasn't a big fan of the Essential 55. My kids have plenty of "rules"; it's the consistent rehearsal and reinforcement of those rules and routines which I find my children need most. Teaching with love and logic has been, by far, my book of choice.
     
  20. hyperangel

    hyperangel Rookie

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    I liked 32 Thrid Graders & One Class Bunny it was a cute book with short teacher stories in it. I cannot recall the author at the moment. I also just bought Freedom Writers (The book the movie was based on) haven't read it yet but I am hearing good things about it.
     
  21. hyperangel

    hyperangel Rookie

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    He wrote another book titled The Excellent 11 - anyone read that one? Also watch the movie The Ron Clark Story. I loved it!;)
     
  22. nc4th

    nc4th Rookie

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    Our school district hosted Ron Clark last year we all were able to see him speak in person on a teacher workday. It was an awesome experience. I am greatful that they aloud me as a student teacher to attend. I did see the movie I thought it was pretty good especially for a made for tv one.
     
  23. Tigers

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    Now I am not in 100% agreement with Rafe but any teacher who would work three jobs to pay for his students to go on field trips in the beginning of his career, and any teacher who writes books where all of his share goes to his students is remarkable. His classroom is now a non-profit which does extremely well, many other teachers do resent this fact, but not all of the teachers are against him especially considering one of his former students works a couple classes down from his. I think if there is one thing you should take away from Rafe it is that it is possible to excite and interest kids in learning. Sometimes you have to dig deep...really deep.
     
  24. h2omane

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    Dido
     
  25. WonderW05

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    I liked Tools for Teaching by Fred Jones. I was very lucky to get a free copy from a friend of mine who went to his seminar through her school. She bought a copy and then somehow I think they might have given her a free copy and so she passed it along to me. I gave her oodles of thanks....:D
     
  26. mhirsch

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    I'm looking forward to reading the second book but I did read "There Are No Shortcuts" and thought it was wonderful. http://www.rafeesquith.com
     
  27. 2tired2teach

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    anyone read "teach like your hair's on fire"

     
  28. knitter63

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    He also paints nearly every other teacher and administrator in his school as obstacles to his success. I suppose that's a common theme among "maverick" teachers who become hugely popular, but it's not reassuring to read when you're a new teacher who doesn't know how to rock the boat :)[/QUOTE]


    I am in total agreement with you, Miss Brave. I am currently reading this book, and to be honest, it is not a book I want to pick up and read!! I am finding his "tone" to be slightly condescending to the reader-like you said, I am feeling that he feels other teachers in his building are beneath him, and has no problem writing that. I am a firm believer that each and every educator out there has room to improve every year, and that we shouldn't be so quick to point out the faults in others. This book just isn't a "feel good" book for me.:(
     
  29. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

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    Has anyone read Educating Esmerelda (I think that was the title). I heard about it a long time ago and was wondering if that would be a good book to read. I'm sure I'm hijacking here, but this is an old post anyways. :D
     
  30. cwp873

    cwp873 Comrade

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    I agree with Miss Brave and LauraB. I found "Teach ...Hair's On Fire" to be condescending and unrealistic. In my opinion he did a lot of things that were risky liability-wise. Yeah, the payoff was worth it, but it wouldn't fly in my school. Small example- the "movie club" that met while HE was at staff meetings? Sorry, but there's no way we'd have a room of kids with no adult supervision!

    I don't think it's a good read for new teachers because he is so extreme. It's not what you'll encounter in a typical school, and few teachers will have the level of success he supposedly achieved with kids that young. Not much applicability for most teachers. I'd love to hear from his co-teachers and see what they thought of him.
     
  31. Leans417

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    I've read Educating Esme, which is the book I think you are referring to. It was a good, quick read. It's about a first year teacher in the Chicago Public School system. She had some good ideas and funny stories to tell. It's more of a memoir than a teaching manual, but I'd recommend it.

    Also, I read most of Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire and never actually finished it because it was so overwhelming for me, a first year teacher! I felt, like many have said, that while he had what seemed to be an amazing classroom, he was a bit pretentious- rather than showing the reader how to be an amazing teacher like him, he just told us how great he was. Also, he seemed to dedicate every single waking moment to his profession- admirable indeed, considering the outcome, but what about his family? What about his personal life? I think as educators, its just as important for us to "go home" like the kids do each day and have a happy and productive personal life. It only enriches our teaching practices and refuels us so we don't get burnt out!
     
  32. knitter63

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    Thank you, Leans417, for saying what I was thinking!! Teaching is NOT my entire life...it is a wonderful career in which I feel successful. My first priority is my family. My motto is: if I died tomorrow, would my school replace me? The answer is yes. However, would my family replace me? The answer is no. That is why my priority is my family. And yes, Leans 417, those experiences make me a much better teacher. For one, I can relate to how my parents feel being a working parent myself!!!:)

    cwp873, you are right. I would NEVER be allowed to have a movie club when I was in a staff meeting!!! Also, I would not be able to show some of the movies he was showing-Saving Private Ryan?? I bawled like a baby when I saw it-I can only imagine showing it to 10 year olds. In my school, we get a "talking to" if we show a PG movie. We have begun to show the "classic" kids movies- the original Doctor Doolittle, Parent Trap and Swiss Family Robinson. The kids LOVE them!!!
     
  33. 2masters@nojob

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    I liked Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire. As an aspiring elementary teacher, I did not take everything he said to heart. I did take a few notes on some ideas he gave. For example, he mentioned some neat math games, and I like how he incorporates Kohlberg's theory on moral development into his classroom. I was surprised at his use of skill and drill worksheets each day to teach grammar, but he says it works for him. I have usually found that grammar in context works better, but maybe it is different for him since he has a very diverse classroom. It is a good read, but don't feel bad if you find yourself skimming several pages on occasion instead of closely reading the text.
     

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