Thursday, September 06, 2007

Teach like your Hair is on Fire (copy)

“It’s a thankless job. It’s hard to find a reason to believe,” states author Rafe Esquith.

He continues, “It’s thankless and it doesn’t get easier. When you glance at your mental ledger, the red ink completely dominates the black. For every reason to believe, for every child you may help, there are dozens who make you want to give up. Most of the kids who walk into our classrooms do not even begin to comprehend how education can help them improve their lives.”

In Esquith’s 242-page book titled, Teach like your Hair is on Fire, these are the only words he allows himself to write which convey empathy towards his fellow teachers. Otherwise, the man generalizes the heck out of over-worked, over-wrought, just-teaching-for-the-test colleagues and it makes me mad.

How could anyone work around this egotistical know-it-all as he insinuates every teacher he comes in contact with is bad, lazy and/or ineffective? No wonder he loathes staff meetings where he must face those very teachers he has been so unkind to. Matter of fact, go back and reread his words in the second paragraph, replacing the words you, your, and our with I, me, and my, and this is Esquith’s personality in a nutshell.

Otherwise, I found his book to be inspiring and thought provoking. Between the self-congratulatory stories, there is a wealth of ideas from which to utilize. Esquith teaches the basics to fifth graders who consider English a second language in Los Angeles, California. A fact he says places them at a disadvantage when it comes to learning.

Okay, I can agree with this statement, but I think Esquith has an advantage Mississippi teachers do not. His kids are motivated to learn. His kids accompanied family members to the United States in order to pursue the American Dream. Most of our kids no longer harbor that hope and are generally less motivated.

Here’s my suggestion for reading this book. Skip over the first two chapters and concentrate on the specific subjects, such as reading, writing, and arithmetic, he covers per chapters three through eleven. Incorporate these ideas into your class, if you haven’t already, and then tackle chapters 12 through 17 as extracurricular activities.

Teaching is a hard enough profession without the constant negatives from self-anointed professionals. There is no need to put-down others, let the accomplishments do the talking.