The End

This is my overview from Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire by Rafe Esquith.

TLHF: What I learned…

Chapter 1: Gimme Some Truth
– Remove Fear
– Build Trust
– Be a Role Model
– Punish Reasonably/Logically

Chapter 2: Searching for Level VI
– “We need to raise the bar for children precisely because so many kids are behaving so badly.”
– Make expectations clear, set the bar high, and strive for level 6.

Chapter 3: Reading For Life
– “Young people who read for pleasure are able to make connections with the world around them and eventually grow to understand themselves on levels they never thought possible.”
– If you don’t love reading and cannot share that love, joy, and enthusiasm with your kids, they won’t love reading.
– Rafe has great ideas for subjects and starting points, but it’s up to you and your favorite books to make your love of reading infectious.

Chapter 4: Writing
– Rafe has a lot of different projects to help kids with their writing. The thing I like best about this is his “do it again” policy. Practice makes perfect, and that’s basically all he requires (the practice, not the perfect).

Chapter 5: Add it Up
– Buzz. This is a great math game that can be played any time any place.
– What I like best about this chapter is one way he describes the transition between lessons. In my observations, so much time is wasted in transitioning either from one subject to another or between sections of a lesson. Even when kids are pulling out a piece of paper, the noise level can become enormous. I want to find the smooth transitions.

Chapter 6: We Won’t Get Fooled Again
– How to Study: create the conditions of the test
– Consequences: failing a test simply means that you didn’t understand the skill and it needs to be taught again and/or practiced more
– Test-taking Skills: questions are created to trick you. Teach students how to find not only the correct answer but also why the wrong answers are there.

Chapter 7: What a Wonderful World
– Roam around the World: use the internet to visit different places across the globe.
– Table Points: it’s a great game that can be used across many different subjects. The kids discuss and answer in groups. There may be competition to get to 20 points first, but there are no losers.
– Supplement History. There are many sources out there to bring history to life and make it more poignant and interesting.

Chapter 8: Rocket Man
– The thing I like most about this chapter on science is that Rafe says, “Failure is good!” It’s something I agree with completely.
– “Please touch” is also a good idea when it comes to teaching (and learning) science.

Chapter 9: Art Lover
– Five Can’t Miss Art Projects: are all great ideas to teach cooperation, team-building, responsibility, and many other skills that students’ need in all aspects of life.
– Participation in fine arts increases the student’s ability to learn, manage time, and work together.
– “Students involved in arts education are learning about things far beyond the art they study.”

Chapter 10: Put Me In, Coach
– “The playground, when used properly, can be just as effective as the classroom.”
– Just like inside the classroom, Rafe has specific goals when it comes to physical education. The biggest is that it continues his classroom culture of kindness.

Chapter 11: Taxman
– This entire chapter is about Rafe’s classroom economy. This economy controls everything within the classroom: cleanliness, discipline, seating, book & movie library, and much more.
– This system teaches lifelong skills: organization, thrift, saving, delayed gratification, budgeting, and taking care of things (because they bought it).

Chapter 12: Think for Yourself
– Children don’t seem to learn how to solve problems. Rafe tries to fix this by giving his students the problem-solving “bible.”
– Step I. Understand the Problem
(Put your pencil down)
Collect Relevant Data

Step II. Choose an Appropriate Strategy
Act It Out
Choose an Operation
Draw a Picture
Guess and Check
Look for a Pattern
Make a Chart or Table
Make an Organized List
Use Logical Reasoning
Work Backwards

Step III. Solve the Problem
(Pick your pencil up)

Step IV. Analyze
Does My Answer Make Sense?

– “The process of discovering the correct answer is more important than the answer itself.”

Chapter 13: Celluloid Heroes
– This chapter describes Rafe’s film club and films that he watches with his class.
– “The film club helped develop an attitude that is attractive in anyone: a curiosity to know more and an appetite for something new.”

Chapter 14: Goin’ Mobile
– Everyone likes field trips and Rafe goes above and beyond. He also has clear goals for each of his trips just like in his classroom and on the playground.
– His goals are for students to “pursue knowledge with a passion and depth of understanding that separates them from mediocre students” and “to prepare them for the college environment.”

Chapter 15: It’s Only Rock’n’Roll (but I Like It)
– This is another example in how Rafe goes above and beyond the call of duty. He gives each student a chance to sing, play guitar, drums, and other instruments. He’s recognized the importance of music and incorporates it into his teaching.
– “I want the kids to be lifelong musicians, not trained seals performing for some school function.”

Chapter 16: Will Power
– Will Shakespeare that is. Every year, Rafe runs an after school program that puts on a play by William Shakespeare.
– He has great ideas on how to do this, but I think the most important thing is that it’s volunteer only. You can’t force kids to participate and trying to guarantees failure.

– Your lasting positive influence on people is the best pay a teacher can get and the biggest reason to never give up.



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