Ok, so I haven't had the chance to read it yet. But I am dying to! This book was a Christmas present from my cousin Paul and every time I think of the title I want to say "teach like your pants are on fire" but then think... no, wait, that's not right...
So I wanted to put it out there and post this as a resource even though I cannot yet personally give an "educated" perspective or review. However, I did find that the author Rafe Esquith was also recently on npr (well, last year recent). Check out the article and the INTERVIEW - this is good stuff!
Turns out he teaches 5th grade in one of the roughest neighborhoods in urban L.A. and he's teaching the kids algebra and Shakespeare. This really puts life to the point that we need to believe as teachers that our students are ALL capable and CAN learn at higher levels! We need to expose them to that same rigor and challenge.
To whet your appetite, here is a small excerpt from the prologue:
Prologue: Fire 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.... I doubt that any book can truly capture the Hobart Shake-speareans. 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."
The book was written for new teachers that may not be prepared, veteran teachers that are set in their ways, and parents that are concerned about the education of their kids. I personally can't wait to read it, and if you have, let me know what you thought!
Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56 by Rafe Esquith. Penguin Books, London England. 2007.