Rafe Esquith is not your common public school teacher. He has battled the bureaucracy inherit in the school system by creating an environment in his classroom that fosters a love of education in his students.
Esquith explains that his teaching style changed forever when the grind of teaching in a public school beat him down and he decided that one day, he would pay extra attention to one kid in his class. This girl was shy and, according to him, “appeared to have accepted the idea that she could never be special.” During a chemistry lesson, this girl could not get the wick on her lamp to burn. She was struggling. He stepped in to help and struggled with the wick himself until finally he triumphantly lit the candle and looked up to see the shy girl smile – but she didn’t smile; she began to scream in fear. Esquith had lit his hair on fire, and he came out a new teacher. He had done everything he could to help a child succeed and resolved to teach everyday as if his hair was on fire.
His book is a plain-spoken, incredibly useful tool for teachers who are struggling as well. Public school teachers struggle with administrators, boards of directors, parents and, of course, students.
Esquith explains how to create a productive, healthy classroom environment, how to enhance a child’s development, and how to the most of every opportunity in the day to teach. He provides excellent examples to draw from and explains a few of the flaws he sees in the education system, including standardized testing.
Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire has already earned praise from numerous sources. It is essential reading for teachers and parents. Stodgy, neck-tied administrators could learn a thing or two as well.