Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire

Author: Rafe Esquith

Publisher: Penguin Group, 2007

Pages: 244

Genre:  Non-fiction, Teaching

Rating: ****

 

Rafe Esquith has been uniquely teaching fifth graders in central Los Angeles for almost 25 years.  Each chapter details sound ideas for teaching one subject: math, reading, writing, problem solving, history, art, life skills, art, and music.  He also describes the classroom-based economy he uses, the instrumental music program he teaches at lunch, his afterschool movie club, his student movie rental service, class trips, and the annual Shakespeare- rock opera play his students perform.

Esquith’s musings about being a teacher and mentor, his assessments of his own mistakes, his struggles with school bureaucracy, and his thoughtful optimism about what teachers can do for their students were comforting to me. Esquith isn’t perfect; he’s a bit over involved and over invested in being liked by students. His crazy teaching hours – he’s in the classroom 12 hours a day, 6 days a week – aren’t really realistic for most teachers and he’s judgmental of teachers who don’t meet his high standards. Still, I found his teaching ideas specific and useful and his dedication and successes comforting.  Highly recommended for both beginning and experienced elementary and middle school teachers.

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