Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56

( 48 )

Overview

Read Rafe Esquith's posts on the Penguin Blog.

From one of America’s most celebrated educators, an inspiring guide to transforming every child’s education

In a Los Angeles neighborhood plagued by guns, gangs, and drugs, there is an exceptional classroom known as Room 56. The fifth graders inside are first-generation immigrants who live in poverty and speak English as a second language. They also play Vivaldi, perform Shakespeare, score in the ...

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Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56

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Overview

Read Rafe Esquith's posts on the Penguin Blog.

From one of America’s most celebrated educators, an inspiring guide to transforming every child’s education

In a Los Angeles neighborhood plagued by guns, gangs, and drugs, there is an exceptional classroom known as Room 56. The fifth graders inside are first-generation immigrants who live in poverty and speak English as a second language. They also play Vivaldi, perform Shakespeare, score in the top 1 percent on standardized tests, and go on to attend Ivy League universities. Rafe Esquith is the teacher responsible for these accomplishments.

From the man whom The New York Times calls “a genius and a saint” comes a revelatory program for educating today’s youth. In Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire!, Rafe Esquith reveals the techniques that have made him one of the most acclaimed educators of our time. The two mottoes in Esquith’s classroom are “Be Nice, Work Hard,” and “There Are No Shortcuts.” His students voluntarily come to school at 6:30 in the morning and work until 5:00 in the afternoon. They learn to handle money responsibly, tackle algebra, and travel the country to study history. They pair Hamlet with rock and roll, and read the American classics. Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire! is a brilliant and inspiring road map for parents, teachers, and anyone who cares about the future success of our nation’s children.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Rafe Esquith teaches fifth grade in Los Angeles, but his fame stretches far beyond his Hobart Elementary class of first-generation immigrants. He has been honored by Oprah Winfrey and Dalai Lama; he's won the American Teacher Award; Sir Ian McKellen calls him "my only hero"; and he is the only teacher to be awarded the National Medal of the Arts. What makes him so special? Teach Like Your Hair's On Fire! not only answers that question; it gives a jump-start to any teacher or parent who cares.
Publishers Weekly
Esquith might be the only public school teacher to be honored by both Oprah Winfrey and the Dalai Lama; he is the only school teacher ever to receive the president's National Medal of the Arts. For the past 25 years, Esquith has taught fifth graders at Hobart Elementary in central Los Angeles. Like most progressive educators, Esquith is outraged by the tyranny of testing, the scripting of teaching under "No Child Left Behind" and the overwhelming bureaucratization of the education industry. Still, he's done wonders with the basic curriculum developing a hands-on arts program, a money-management curriculum and a sports-based statistics unit. Esquith and his Hobart Shakespeareans are world famous for the rock opera they create every year. Throughout each school day, Esquith teaches life skills: how to think about problems, how to plan a strategy to solve them and, most important, how to work together and be nice to each other. While his goals are inspiring, he's also practical most chapters include affordable, how-to directions for a variety of his most effective classroom activities; he's even got a few tips for revamping those inescapable "test prep" sessions. (Jan.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The winner of numerous teaching awards and the only instructor to have been given the National Medal of the Arts, Esquith explains how he helps kids from the lowest rungs of society climb to the top. With an eight-city tour. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780670038152
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 1/18/2007
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 610,871
  • Product dimensions: 4.90 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Rafe Esquith

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 Your Life Award, and the Compassion in Action Award from the Dalai Lama. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, Barbara Tong. Read CBS's news story on Rafe Esquith.

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Table of Contents


Prologue: Fire in the Classroom     ix
There's no Place Like Home
Gimme Some Truth     3
Searching for Level VI     13
The Method
Reading for Life     29
Writing     45
Add It Up     62
We Won't Get Fooled Again     73
What a Wonderful World     85
Rocket Man     96
Art Lover     106
Put Me In, Coach     123
Taxman     133
The Madness
Think for Yourself     145
Celluloid Heroes     159
Goin' Mobile     172
It's Only Rock 'n' Roll (but I Like It)     190
Do They Know It's Christmas?     201
Will Power     208
Epilogue: Rest in Peace     224
Acknowledgments     229
Appendixes     231
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 48 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(30)

4 Star

(11)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(2)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 48 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 26, 2010

    An inspiring, must read novel!

    This is an inspiring book by Rafe Esquith that I would recommend it for any teacher; young or old, new or tenured, elementary or secondary. I would even recommend it for any parent or soon to be parent, because in a way, Rafe Esquith raises his students in room 56. I would also recommend it for any person who enjoys reading, just in general, about great and inspiring people. People who set their lives out in front of them, take it for all it is worth, and try to change the world in whatever way they can.
    The reason I decided to pick up this book and begin reading was because the college I attend had an opportunity for me to go and see him. I go to Illinois State University, where you will find that among the business majors, the engineering majors, and the pre-med majors, the majority of the students you will encounter here are education majors of all sorts. So having a teacher, who he himself has won the Oprah Winfrey Angel award, Oprah Winfrey's $100,000 "Use Your Life Award", Parents Magazine's "As You Grow Award", the Disney National Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award, a Sigma Beta Delta Fellowship from John Hopkins University, and was made an honorary member of the Order of the British Empire, coming here was, I felt, quite the opportunity.
    While there, I heard one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever heard. Where he works, to give a quick summary of what you will quickly find out in the beginning of the novel anyway, is in a poor LA neighborhood, where for most of the students, English is a second language. His students willingly come to school, almost year round. The doors of his classroom, room 56, open at 6 AM for any student who wants to come (and several do) and has lots of after school activities in his room till 6 PM, where many students stay. He changes their lives, and in order to find out more, this is where I must leave you, to buy the book for yourself, and see how one man, can indeed, changes the world.
    As repeated, throughout the book as a saying in room 56 for the students to always remember to work hard to achieve their dreams, "After all, there are no shortcuts."~Rafe Esquith

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2009

    The perfect teacher

    I loved the book and what Rafe Esquith does with his students but found it to be very unrealistic. As a teacher myself, a wife, mother, daughter, friend of many, I could never devote the time and money to any job that claims to do. The field trips across the U. S. were great learning experiences but leaving students unsupervised in hotel rooms is a risk to student safety and personal liability I would not take with the most trusted of students. Through the minute details of his techniques and criticisms of other teachers, he has violated the creeds he has asked his students to live by. His derogatory nicknames for teachers he does not respect is especially disturbing. I am sure his students, past and present, would read his books and pick up on this unkindness. Even if he has altered some of the events and changed names, teachers from his school would surely figure out that he was talking about them. As much as I admire his love for students, I find many contradictions to his philosophy. If I tried to do as much as he claims to do, my marriage would dissolve and family life would dissolve for lack of time and attention. I spend lots of money on my teaching activities but would not want to give up my family life to take on extra jobs and recruit for funds. The book is well-written and enjoyable.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 25, 2010

    Teaching like your hair's on fire.

    When one is looking on a nonfiction book to read that has to deal with the field of education Rafe Esquith's book Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56 is an excellent choice! Being an Oklahoma State University Composition student for 2010 I was given the task of finding an nonfiction book dealing with my major or career related. Stubbling across several books of Rafe Esquith I found Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire to be the most interesting after reading the first few pages. Esquith does an excellent job at listing how-to instruction with a few of his projects/activities he has found to be very benefical, in the class room. Throughout Esquith book he discusses the important of instilling life long lesson along side of teaching the basic curriculum. Therefore, if you are looking for a book to gain knowledge of the insight of the daily operations of a class room or looking for a good book to read I highly suggest to read Rafe Esquith's Teach Like You Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56.

    Felica

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2010

    A Must Read for Every Teacher and Parent

    The author, Rafe Esquith, is a true hero. I have read all 3 of his books and would recommend them all, however, this is probably the best of the three. It just confirms that we, as parents and teachers simply need to do and expect more. It is very inspirational and will give you ideas on ways to do more with your own children. I also purchased a copy for my son's fourth grade teacher. The books are all easy reads and very enjoyable.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 7, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    Wonderful, Inspiring, Practical

    I happened to pick this book up while looking for a gift for a friend in her first year of teaching. I was riveted by the end of the first page and read the first few chapters before purchasing it for my friend.

    A year later, in the midst of my own first year of teaching, I remembered how inspired I was by just a few pages of Rafe's book, and bought a copy for myself.

    I have since given and lent this book to other teacher and tutor friends, and we all love it. Besides being chock-full of great practical teaching ideas and lesson plans, I am attracted to how he encourages his readers. He tells teachers, tutors, and mentors to not give up; yes, the education system in California is broken; yes, the cards are stacked against us; but do not give up. Our students - the future - are a worthwhile cause.

    This book (and this author) will be an inspiration to anyone who invests in others.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2014

    every teacher should read this book

    This method of traching is a mix of faciliator and executive approaches. This teaches future teachers not to be afraid and everyone makes mistakes even the best, but you learn form them and become greater than before.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2012

    Great Ideas

    This book is very thoughtful and give great hints as to find information to utilize new ideas. It is an excellent book for new teachers, and a great refresher course for those who are old hats at the expansion of the mind job.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2012

    Great book with great ideas!

    I definitely learned a lot an got a lot of ideas for my classroom from this book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 14, 2011

    Good book very inspirational

    Teachers of all experience levels can appreciate this book. Offers neat ideas (most easy to implement).

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  • Posted May 20, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Very Practical

    I appreciated the practical usefulness of this book. He's full of ideas, calls it like it is (ex: doesn't hesitate to call the lazy teachers out for using films as a replacement for learning), and encourages excellence. So, it's inspiring in a practical sort of way--he's got lots of ideas about how to use art and film in constructive ways. I've actually implemented some of his ideas, some to good end, some not. But it's fun to experiment.

    For deeper inspiration for teachers, I'd also recommend the classic, The Courage to Teach and the newer book, Buddha in the Classroom; Zen Wisdom to Inspire Teachers.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 1, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire

    As a teacher, this book inspired me to look at teaching in a whole new perspective. I feel I will be a better teacher after reading this book.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted July 25, 2009

    Good Read For Educators

    Rafe Esquith is the teacher of the Hobart Shakespeareans. They have received international acclaim for their deep and abiding love for learning and working well as a group of learners. These children move on to grade 6 and new students arrive each year so Rafe has to begin again every September. This is a great book for teachers of school age children as it leads you along Rafe's journey and gives you new insights into teaching all children with respect and confidence.

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  • Posted July 5, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Path-Breaking

    Required reading for all who are truly interested in education: parents, teachers, would-be teachers, and especially school administrators.

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  • Posted June 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Parents, Teachers, Others Involved in Education? Read this book

    Rafe Esquith is an intelligent hardworking teacher who is uniquely motivated. He is a workaholic and fortunately strongly supported by his wife and family. His story shows how one person (teacher) can make a huge difference in many young lives. His influence has guided 20 plus years worth of students through an inner city elementary school he refers to as the jungle; many of his students have become university graduates who are highly productive intelligent members of society. He leads by example arriving at school by 6:30am and staying until 6:00pm, using a motto of "Be nice. Work hard." to instill trust and teach his students a strong work ethic. Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire offers many ideas for novice and experienced teachers alike that will help raise them and their students out of the mediocrity of public schooling.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 9, 2009

    Help instill the joy of learning in more students life. . . READ THIS BOOK

    Being an OSU Comp Student 2009, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Rafe Esquith's book on being an educator because I hope to be a teacher in a couple of years. The enticing title and informative information in the book have impacted my thought process on how I want to develop my classroom when I become a teacher. By learning these techniques, I personally have discovered the value and significance of every move that a teacher makes. Every move a teacher makes the student is watching and will judge the teacher by their actions. The book, Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire, is a phenomenal book for any teacher or professional who is in need of a different aspect for their classroom or who doubt the work teachers put into their jobs.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2007

    A most amazing author and teacher!!

    This is a must read for all parents and teachers!! I couldn't put this book down. I was able to find an email for the author and he spent 30 minutes with me on the phone helping me apply his principles to my younger children. I am a home school mom and was looking for things to keep my lessons fun and interesting. He defiinitely paved the way for me. Thanks, Rafe!!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2007

    A reviewer

    Teach Like Your Hair is On Fire was absolutely wonderful. The teacher in the story is giving his all to these kids so creatively and with such concern for their character. I finished this book in one day and immediately bought it for two teachers I know. You will enjoy the roller-coaster of emotions as Rafe Esquith integrates art, music, travel and Shakespeare into his instruction of 9 and 10 year olds.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 1, 2007

    It is so insteresing it made me stay up late to finish it!

    I am a teacher and an avid reader. Mr. Esquith's book is outstanding. There are so many reasons I enjoyed it but one of the primary reasons is he discusses math, science, reading, P.E. and the other 'Core' classes individually. I emailed our English faculty and everyone is reading this book. Today I ordered his other book and I just can hardly wait until it arrives.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 27, 2007

    A Book of Inspiration and Ideas from the ¿Hobart Shakespeareans¿ Teacher

    During our teaching careers, most of us have experienced a few ¿Ah-ha¿ moments. For Rafe Esquith, his wake-up call was literally when his hair caught on fire during a science experiment. Why was he the last one in the class to realize his head was ablaze - because he had inadvertently reached classroom nirvana. 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 book 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.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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