Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire Final Reflection

Well this has been a long time coming. I finally finished the book Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire  by Rafe Esquith. Earlier this past summer I wrote my thoughts about the first half of the book. I was amazed and still amazed at what Mr. Esquith does with his students. I want to discuss a few parts of his book that really stood out for me.

The first section I want to talk about, and I guess I will have to read his previous book is how he runs his classroom token economy. He has each student responsible for a job. They have to do their job to make money. If they do more than their job they make extra money. I got that part. Teaching children responsibility is important. The next part is where he has allowed his classroom economy take the next step. each student has to pay rent for their seat. Seats near the teacher are more expensive. The seats in the back are cheaper. Paying rent is what most of his students and frankly most of my students would be used to hearing. He continues this economy where students can save money to be used throughout the classroom. One thing that students buy is another’s seat and have that student pay them rent. That’s amazing. He is creating little entrepreneurs!

I have never run a token economy in my classroom. Our schools is starting this year to do that to reward students who work hard. I think it is a great idea. I only see my students for a few hours one day a week, so I don’t see how I can be effective. I am open to suggestions if anyone has one.

The other aspect of his book that I connected with is teaching our children that they are part of a larger community and they can participate in it no matter what age they are. Mr. Esquith takes his students on field trips such as Washington, D.C. and other places. He stresses it is important to prepare for the trip months in advance. When he takes his students on trips they research, write essays, study maps and other activities that are connected to the place where they are going. This way you don’t have to explain everything, and they can make some connections from the research, pictures, and projects to the place when they are there.

I have never taken students across the county as he has, but he has some amazing things you need to think about before you leave. He really stresses that we need to teach children to be independent. He teaches the students how to budget money, make a schedule of who showers in the morning and evening, to planning the day. It’s a very wonderful concept. Let the students take some ownership in their trip. He also teaches his students about hotel and airplane ettiquete. He also stresses trust on these trips. If you can’t trust your student then they aren’t ready for classroom travel.

I have to admit, that I have never done a lot of what Mr. Esquith has done in my 10 years of teaching. But he has inspired me to improve my classroom and my teaching from the bottom up. To make every lesson, project, and classroom activity important and meaningful. He makes me want to work harder to help my students to be challenged and successful; to take my students on an educational journey that leads to their future.

If you have the chance to read this book, I hope you take it. It’s a wonderful book for educators. He isn’t talking down from the podium at you. He is talking to you like a colleague would.


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