Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire: The Methods And Madness Inside Room 56

Paperback | December 18, 2007

byRafe Esquith

not yet rated|write a review
Read Rafe Esquith's posts on the Penguin Blog.

The New York Times bestseller that is revolutionizing the way Americans educate their kids-"Rafe Esquith is a genius and a saint" (The New York Times)

Perhaps the most famous fifth-grade teacher in America, Rafe Esquith has won numerous awards and even honorary citizenship in the British Empire for his outstandingly successful methods. In his Los Angeles public school classroom, he helps impoverished immigrant children understand Shakespeare, play Vivaldi, and become happy, self-confident people. This bestseller gives any teacher or parent all the techniques, exercises, and innovations that have made its author an educational icon, from personal codes of behavior to tips on tackling literature and algebra. The result is a powerful book for anyone concerned about the future of our children.

Pricing and Purchase Info

$14.06 online
$18.00 list price (save 21%)
In stock online
Ships free on orders over $25
Prices may vary. why?
Please call ahead to confirm inventory.

From the Publisher

Read Rafe Esquith's posts on the Penguin Blog.The New York Times bestseller that is revolutionizing the way Americans educate their kids-"Rafe Esquith is a genius and a saint" (The New York Times) Perhaps the most famous fifth-grade teacher in America, Rafe Esquith has won numerous awards and even honorary citizenship in the British E...

Rafe Esquith has taught at Hobart Elementary School for twenty-two years. He is the only teacher in history to receive the National Medal of Arts. He has also been made a Member of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. His many other honors include the American Teacher Award, Parents magazine’s As You Grow Award, Oprah Winfrey’s Use Y...

other books by Rafe Esquith

There Are No Shortcuts
There Are No Shortcuts

Paperback|May 11 2004

$17.96 online$18.95list price(save 5%)
Format:PaperbackDimensions:272 pages, 7.8 × 5.1 × 0.5 inPublished:December 18, 2007Publisher:Penguin Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0143112864

ISBN - 13:9780143112860

Look for similar items by category:

Customer Reviews of Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire: The Methods And Madness Inside Room 56

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Absolutely Amazing - recommend for Teachers and Parents who are ready to improve! My principal handed me this book after she finished reading it, and now I can't wait for my next year of teaching to start! Tons of great ideas that I can use right away in my classroom. Easy to read and understand. Informative and useful. An inspirational piece of work! After all, we don't want our kids to be as successful as us... we want them to be more successful than ourselves!
Date published: 2010-03-14
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Showing Up Differently You hear about some people in their jobs - they just show up differently. One of these people Is Rafe Esquith. Basically, this guy works tirelessly to help these kids learn and open their eyes to what is possible in this world. From teaching them guitar, to having a classic film club, to having a problem-solving Math club to using gym's baseball practice to help them understand Math even better, he takes creativity and originality to the next level. He puts everything into his work, working about 12 hours a day, and at one point taking 1-2 extra jobs in order to afford the extras such as class trips. How can someone have so much mission? So much heart? Is it because he is a teacher and he sees how much these kids need help? I did have a few very good teachers when I was growing up, but certainly no one was like this. Is it simply a kind of workaholism? No matter what, it is pretty cool what can happen when you are passionate about what you do. You simply show up differently. If you aren't a teacher, this book can be a bit slow at times since he goes into such detail about each example. Also, if you have ever gone to school with immigrant kids, you know that they are the ones with the most promise because of the amount of dedication them and their families typically put into education. Nevertheless, it is an inspirational book about anyone who wants to show up differently in work and in life.
Date published: 2010-01-04

Extra Content

Read from the Book

PROLOGUEFire in the Classroom  It is a strange feeling to write this book. I am painfully aware that I am not superhuman. I do the same job as thousands of other dedicated teachers who try to make a difference. Like all real teachers, I fail constantly. I don’t get enough sleep. I lie awake in the early-morning hours, agonizing over a kid I was unable to reach. Being a teacher can be painful.For almost a quarter of a century, I have spent the majority of my time in a tiny, leaky classroom in central Los Angeles. Because of a little talent and a lot of luck, I have been fortunate to receive some recognition for my work. Not a day goes by when I do not feel overwhelmed by the attention.I doubt that any book can truly capture the Hobart Shakespeareans. However, it is certainly possible to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years that have helped me grow as a teacher, parent, and person. For almost twelve hours a day, six days a week, forty-eight weeks a year, my fifth-graders and I are crowded into our woefully insufficient space, immersed in a world of Shakespeare, algebra, and rock ’n’ roll. For the rest of the year, the kids and I are on the road. While my wife believes me to be eccentric, good friends of mine have not been so gentle, going as far as to label me quixotic at best and certifiable at worst.I don’t claim to have all the answers; at times it doesn’t feel as if I’m reaching as many students as I succeed with. I’m here only to share some of the ideas I have found useful. Some of them are just plain common sense, and others touch on insanity. But there is a method to this madness. It is my hope that some parents and teachers out there will agree with me that our culture is a disaster. In a world that considers athletes and pop stars more important than research scientists and firefighters, it has become practically impossible to develop kind and brilliant individuals. And yet we’ve created a different world in Room 56. It’s a world where character matters, hard work is respected, humility is valued, and support for one another is unconditional. Perhaps when parents and teachers see this, and realize that my students and I are nothing special, they will get a few ideas and take heart.I am sad when I see so many good teachers and parents surrender to forces that sap their potential excellence. The demons are everywhere. Those who care deeply often feel outgunned by apathetic or incompetent administrators and politicians. Expectations for children are often ridiculously low. Racism, poverty, and ignorance often reign supreme on campus. Add to this mix ungrateful students, and even mean-spirited people in the teaching profession itself, and the hardiest of souls can be crushed. Each defeat usually means that a child’s true potential will not be developed.I was fortunate to have a ridiculous moment in the classroom that literally lit my way out of the darkness. Years ago, feeling tired and frustrated, I spent a few weeks searching my soul and did something I rarely do—I questioned whether teaching was worth it anymore. A combination of the aforementioned demons had beaten me down, and I was practically down for the count.But for some reason, when I was guilty of feeling sorry for myself, I spent a day paying extra attention to a kid in class whom I liked very much. She was one of those kids who always seem to be the last one picked for the team, a quiet girl who appeared to have accepted the idea that she could never be special. I was determined to convince her that she was wrong.I was teaching a chemistry lesson, and the students were excited about working with alcohol lamps. But the girl couldn’t get her wick to burn. The rest of the class wanted to move on with their projects, but I told everyone to wait. I was not going to leave her behind, even after she told me to continue with the others and not worry about her.Normally I do not interfere with science projects, because failure can be part of the learning process. Yet this was simply a matter of faulty equipment; it had nothing to do with the chemical principle we were exploring that morning. I needed to step in. The girl had tears in her eyes, and I felt ashamed of myself for ever having felt like giving up. Suddenly her sadness was all that mattered.Athletes often refer to getting “into the zone” when they forget about the crowd and the pressure and see only the ball. It can happen in other fields too. For that one moment, the only thing that mattered to me was that this girl should have a successful experiment. She was going to go home that day with a smile on her face. I bent closely over the wick of her alcohol lamp. For some reason the wick was not as long as it should have been—I could barely see it. I leaned as close as I could, and with a long kitchen match tried to reach it. I was so close to the match that I could feel the flame as I tried to ignite the lamp. I was determined to get the lamp working. And it started working! The wick caught fire, and I looked up triumphantly to see the smile I expected on the girl’s face.Instead, she took one look at me and began screaming in fear. Other kids started yelling as well. I did not understand why they were all pointing at me, until I realized that while I was lighting the lamp, the flame had touched my hair; it was now smoldering and scaring the hell out of the children. Several of them ran to me and swiped at my head. Talk about a dream come true—they got to hit their teacher on the head and say they were trying to help him.A few minutes later, all was well and the experiment proceeded. I felt (and looked) like an idiot. And yet for the first time in weeks, I felt great about being a teacher. I had been able to ignore the crap that all teachers on the front lines face. I had done everything I could to help someone. I didn’t do it particularly well, but the effort was there. I thought to myself that if I could care so much about teaching that I didn’t even realize my hair was burning, I was moving in the right direction. From that moment, I resolved to always teach like my hair was on fire.There are so many charlatans in the world of education. They teach for a couple of years, come up with a few clever slogans, build their Web sites, and hit the lecture circuit. In this fast-food society, simple solutions to complex problems are embraced far too often. We can do better. I hope that people who read this book realize that true excellence takes sacrifice, mistakes, and enormous amounts of effort. After all, there are no shortcuts.    

Table of Contents

Teach Like Your Hair's On FirePrologue: Fire in the Classroom

Part One: There's No Place Like Home

One: Gimme Some Truth
Two: Searching for Level VI

Part Two: The Method

Three: Reading for Life
Four: Writing
Five: Add It Up
Six: We Won't Get Fooled Again
Seven: What a Wonderful World
Eight: Rocket Man
Nine: Art Lover
Ten: Put Me In, Coach
Eleven: Taxman

Part Three: The Madness

Twelve: Think for Yourself
Thirteen: Celluloid Heroes
Fourteen: Goin' Mobile
Fifteen: It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (but I Like It)
Sixteen: Do They Know It's Christmas?
Seventeen: Will Power

Epilogue: Rest in Peace

Acknowledgments
Appendixes

Editorial Reviews

"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

"Politicians, burbling over how to educate the underclass, would do well to stop by Rafe Esquith's fifth-grade class."
-Time

"The most interesting and influential classroom teacher in the country."
-The Washington Post