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

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

4.2 63
by Ron Clark

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If there were a code you could learn that would lead you to become a great teacher--of students, of your children, or of any young person in your life--wouldn't you want to learn it? The Essential 55 is a collection of the amazingly effective rules that Ron Clark used to become an extraordinary teacher. Through trial and error, this teacher has distilled…  See more details below


If there were a code you could learn that would lead you to become a great teacher--of students, of your children, or of any young person in your life--wouldn't you want to learn it? The Essential 55 is a collection of the amazingly effective rules that Ron Clark used to become an extraordinary teacher. Through trial and error, this teacher has distilled fifty-five ideas that have helped him take apathetic students in some of the country's most challenging areas and transform them into award-winning scholars.

Covering all aspects of life, from the classroom to the world, from human interactions to the most frightening of all--cafeteria and bathroom manners--Ron Clark shows that with determination, discipline, and regular rewards, the children you stick by will be the children you eventually admire.

Editorial Reviews

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. (May) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Clark is undoubtedly a dedicated, organized, and outstanding teacher, having won several national teaching awards in just a few short years in the profession. His ability to share his success with others, however, comes up quite a bit short of the mark. There are a few gems in this offering-such as the suggestion that when leaving plans for a substitute teacher one should set up a videotape to introduce the lesson and give a stern reminder of behavioral expectations to the students-but these precious nuggets are few and far between. The majority of Clark's rules are items that virtually every education student is taught, and the others border on obsessive-compulsive. For example, Clark's Rule #1 calls for all students to say, "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir." On the other hand, he has more than twenty-five rules regarding eating, and his instructions for how to wash up in the bathroom include absurd amounts of detail on how to exit the facilities without actually touching anything. There are also several of what appear to be overly harsh rules, such as if a student does not say "Thank you within three seconds . . ." of receiving a treat or privilege, that treat or privilege is irretrievably revoked. The remainder of the book is filled with inspiring and moving tales of Clark's impressive triumphs in the classroom, but all things considered, Clark earns only a C-grade for his efforts in trying to pass his success on to other educators. 2003, Hyperion, 196p., Ages 17 to Adult.
—Timothy Brennan

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The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 64 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I finshed the book in one sitting. All of Ron's rules are excellent and can be adapted for any classroom. This man is amazing. We need more teachers like him.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've got a poster of the rules in my office, I like them so much. These really work in the classroom, not infallibly of course, but extremely well. When students begin to behave well it's much easier for them to focus on lessons because they feel less threatened and more in control. Ron starting a new school in Atlanta, so he is still an Educator!
Pecan1952 More than 1 year ago
This an excellent book for teachers -- both beginning and experienced! Lots of great ideas and useful information and techniques. Will give you a lot to think about and hopefully improve your teaching. Also a great book for students and parents as well. I highly recommend this and his other book (listed below)!!
Beth_Taylor More than 1 year ago
Ron Clark's "The Essential 55" is a great resource book for every teacher to use as a class management tool. Ron Clark's common sense approach to teaching and managing school children is enlightening, especially for new teachers. I highly recommend this book to all new teachers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this book is very well written. It is very organized, and is helpful to students so they will learn basic manners that will be used throughout their lifetime. It is great!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Essential 55 consists of Ron Clark's 55 rules he uses in his classroom everyday. These rules cover a range of topics from food etiquette to life lessons. At first, I was skeptical about Clark's views on how a classroom should be run. After I continued to read, I found that Clark had valid reasons for each and every rule. Not every rule will make sense and not every rule should be followed exactly. For instance, rule 47 states 'Do not bring Doritos into the school building.' Overall, I highly recommend this book. Clark organized his book in a manner that is easy to read and understand. Beyond that, the book will stir your imagination and inspire you as a parent, an educator, and a person.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I read this book in a few hours. It was motivational, concise and reminded the reader that structure and expectations are GOOD for kids. I loved this book.
mike-v More than 1 year ago
You can easily read this book in a couple of days. I could see myself integrating some of these 55 rules into my classroom--but not all at the same time. That would be chaos! He's a successful teacher, but your mileage may vary.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I just bought this book and I am looking forward to reading it and applying some of it in my classroom. I saw his movie on TNT last night and the first thing I did this morning was order the book. What a story. As to the person who claims that if Ron 'cared about children he'd still be teaching,' people should pay no mind to this person. This is your standard issue 'sour grapes' attitude you get from every bitter teacher who sees another teacher enjoy and excel in what they do. Happy reading!!!!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ron Clark is everything a teacher today needs to be, and more!!! Choosing to take the more difficult path and work in a tough, urban district he made magic happen with his students. My favorite part about Clark and this book is that it reminds us teachers that there are three components to learning: knowledge, skills, and values. Too often teachers become overwhelmed with preparing their students for the state exams at the end of the year that they forget the key ingredient of classroom success - good citizenship. As teachers, it is not our job to simply fill our students' minds with as much information as possible. It is our job to prepare them for the next stage of life, both academically and emotionally.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I have read and re-read Ron's book. I have found that his experiences in the classroom parallel my own. I have used several of his 'tips' in the classroom and tweaked others, and they work. I teach in a high poverty, multi-ethnic community, and his ¿tips¿ work. As to him still not in the classroom, I say that because of what he has learned and is sharing to other educators, and continuing his work at the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, keep up the good work Ron. Check out this website,, for more about what this fantastic TEACHER is still doing for kids.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was recently recommended this book by a teacher friend hoping to prepare me for my first year of teaching. It did. This book is easy to read and contains many interesting stories. The rules are explained in short chapters making it a book you can read for a few minutes and pick up again later with out losing your place or train of thought. Everyone should read this book, not just teachers!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am in training to be a teacher when I was recommended this book by a co-worker. I fell in love with it instantly. It is very easy to read and most of it can be applied right away. A must read for anyone who deals with children on a regular basis.
harstan More than 1 year ago
This is a simplistic, but powerful guidebook that should be part of the essential library of teachers, student teachers, other educators, and to a lesser degree parents. Mr. Clark explains each one of his rules in a practical way so that they can easily be adapted. Examples add to the overall understanding. Most interesting is that Mr. Clark never loses sight of the goal of teaching: preparing young people to succeed in life by knowing how to interact with others. Though one would think it obvious, try going into a classroom where no one wants to be there for learning; only for socializing or heat in winter. THE ESSENTIAL 55: AN AWARD-WINNING EDUCATOR'S RULES FOR DISCOVERING THE SUCCESSFUL STUDENT IN EVERY CHILD lives up to its title and should be standard fare in every school and part of the criteria of the education major because of its practical nature. Perhaps rule 56 is if you are the new teacher on the block, you will be stuck on the top floor of a six or seven story building with the textbooks in the basement ¿ whoever owns the elevator is your best friend on that first day.

Harriet Klausner

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LilliePoppers More than 1 year ago
Someone posted: If Ron cared so much about children, he would still be in the classroom teaching... Teaching isn't a one, five or ten year is an every year deal. If you looked at Ron and his rules, they are absurd. Please know that this is farthest from the truth. After going to the Ron Clark Academy in May of 2012 I can tell you for a fact that Ron not only runs a school, but he teaches full time. His school is truly remarkable and I love all the information in his books. He is an inspiring educator and makes me want to be a better one!!!
MeganHurley More than 1 year ago
Really good book on education rules that help discover the successful student in every child- it would be great to create a list like this. I think that I would re-write a list like this in order to build off of rules to become a successful teacher. It’s always great to read about different books.
DSDJ More than 1 year ago
This book is full of lessons which are related to manners more than academics. For instance, the first lesson is "when responding to any adult, you must answer by saying "Yes ma'am or No sir". The author also explains why this lesson is considered important, or how his students succeded after learning it. I believe it's a good tool for teachers who are looking for something different and practical. It's easy to read. However, i must highlight the fact that these are not rules related to school in acadademic terms, but to life and manners.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Our principal required all teachers in our school to read and report on. I can see why she chose this book. Had some really good ideas.
Bridge Creek More than 1 year ago
It was awsomme
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