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Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire:
The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56

by Rafe Esquith

      If there ever was someone who understands the phrase "outside the box", it is Rafe Esquith in his book Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire. This three part book gives insight into how an instructor who teaches at any grade level can follow a school's course requirements yet learn to Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire.

In the first part, Esquith shows you how to bring students from a zero level of competency to level six. Believing in eliminating fear and instilling trust, being dependable, having logical discipline applications, and understanding what being a role model truly is, make it imperative for teachers to learn how to start out right. The second part is what he calls "The Method." It is an in-depth look at ways for you to teach and students to learn that makes it all enjoyable and filled with passion.

The last part, entitled 'The Madness," is a section for teachers who want to do their job but want to do more than 100% work. Esquith calls it "insanely dedicated." It is this section in my mind that explains the title of the book. The Madness section is for teachers. It shows teachers how Esquith's Room 56 became the room of inventions and "outside the box" thinking that led to experiences which become life-long treasures for students. The section is a Pandora's box of its own filled with good ways to bring out the best in school age children, not the scary evils of yesterday’s educational institutions.

Room 56, which is Esquith's assigned room in a school for immigrants with English as a second-language, was the beginning and the end of Esquith's discoveries and his need to share what he has learned after teaching for 22 years. He discovered that anyone can and should obtain an education fit for a king or queen. With a determined attitude, Esquith developed many ways to reach children and show them how they too can become proficient and succeed, no matter what obstacles they face.

As Room 56 and Esquith's teaching methods became popular, other teachers went to the room to "go back to school." His students became mentors for students that followed them and other teachers became duty-bound to learn new ways to teach. No matter how you look at it, Esquith's book, Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire is a must read for current teachers, soon to be teachers, and parents too. It contains "new age" methods to teach and love doing it.

The Book

Penguin Books
September 2007
Nonfiction / Education
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The Reviewer

Sylvia McClain
Reviewed 2008
NOTE: Reviewer Sylvia McClain is the author of The Write Life: A Beginning Writer's Guide to Writing, Money Management, Publishing and Marketing, Skipping Through Life: The Reason I Am and editor of the Scribal News Calendar, a newsletter of writer events and happenings.
© 2008