Teach Like Your Hair Is On Fire!

Teach Like Your Hair’s On Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56 by Rafe Esquith

This book is inspiring and reminds me why I love teaching. I took so many notes that I won’t be able to share them all in one post. If you teach, I highly recommend reading it!

Here are a few quick tidbits of teaching gold . . .

See It From the Students POV

“When teaching or parenting, you must always try to see things from the child’s point of view and . . .”

Before we continue this sentence, let’s unpack what we have so far. Seeing things from another person’s perspective is a critical skill that everyone should learn. As teachers, it is extremely important to understand your students point of view.

Here is something that has happened to me a few times in my career. I’m marking a test and I realize that several people have gotten the same answer wrong. Not only that, but they all have the same “wrong” answer. This can’t be a coincidence since I always make sure my students work independently on their tests and don’t cheat. So I look closely at the question and the answer and find out that the students weren’t wrong at all. They provided a correct answer. One that I hadn’t even considered. It’s absolutely amazing to see this happen.

Never Use Fear

Rafe continues . . .

“. . . never use fear as a shortcut for education.”

Remember that you were a student once. Fear is never the way to control a class. How would you react now if someone used that to try and get you to do or refrain from doing something?

Answer All Questions

“I answer all questions. It does not matter if I have been asked them before. It does not matter if I am tired. The kids must see that I passionately want them to understand, and it never bothers me when they don’t.”

Build Trust

“Being constantly dependable is the best way to build up trust.”

Seize Opportunities

Esquith tells a story of one of his students desperately trying to find their homework. The assignment was due that day and he wanted to hand it in. He thinks he’s misplaced it somehow.

I know a lot of teachers who would just assume that the student was lying and tell him that he would have to hand it in tomorrow and possibly even get a deduction for lateness. What did Rafe do? He simply said< “I believe you.”

What powerful words. Imagine what that would have felt like from the student’s point of view.

“These are the opportunities to seize upon. Of course you’re frustrated, but you can take potentially bad moments and turn them into good ones.”

More Jewels Soon

I will write another post soon about some of the great practices Rafe uses in his classroom. I love that he has the same room every year. It must be nice to identify your class as “Room 56.” I’ve been shifted around som much in my teaching career. I’ve had to share classrooms and use a different room every period. Teachers and students need stability. I’m glad they have that at his school.

My List of 2022 Reads – my annual reading log