Monday, March 24, 2008

Rafe Esquith

This guy may be the best teacher in America. He's received recognition for his achievements in the classroom, including

Compassion in Action Award from the Dalai Lama
Winner of the National Medal of the Arts. (only teacher ever)
Use Your Life Award from Oprah Winfrey
As You Grow Award from Parent's Magazine

Rafe teaches fifth grade in a big (1652 students) K-5 public elementary school in the heart of Los Angeles called Hobart Elementary. His students are mainly (exclusively?) from Asian and Latin America families who do not speak English at home.

Rafe is dedicated. He's clear about his values: Work Hard, Be Nice. He believes there are no shortcuts, but I think he means for immigrant kids. Kids born into the ruling class enjoy all sorts of shortcuts.

Rafe works hard. He comes to work early (he opens the door at 6:30 AM) and stays late (till 6:00), almost 12 hours a day. He works 6 days a week, 48 weeks per year.

With these students—they are very highly motivated kids—he puts on a Shakespearean play each year. He takes his students on tours. He's traveled to Washington DC, Hawaii, Oregon, and to the East Coast to see top colleges there.

He's written best seller books and he's the subject of a documentary movie.

Rafe's book, Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire

I recommend his book if you're an upper elementary school classroom teacher. I also recommend seeing the movie and visiting the website about Rafe called The Hobart Shakespeareans.

Note about the book. At times he gets snarky. He finds fault with other teachers and administrators. I found his criticisms distracting from his main message. (Remember his value, Be Nice?)

The movie helped me like Rafe better. In the movie you can see very clearly that Rafe loves teaching, loves his students, and that they love him back.


Anonymous said...

Rafe sounds like a good teacher.


Culmom37 said...

It is such a blessing to see how awesome and inspirational a teacher can be and the ways they are able to get through to children. Many teachers stay away from certain schools based on their difficulties. It is nice to hear the opposite in Mr. Rafe Esquith. I believe that teachers have one of the toughest jobs in America yet they are grossly underpaid. It is clear to me that teachers have a passion for their work and their affects on children. Luckily for Belle, she has Mr. Gurney!

Dan Gurney, Mr. Kindergarten said...

And I'm lucky to have Belle in my class. Good teachers are no better than their students. I think a good part of Mr. Esquith's success is due to the quality and motivation of his students. And I think he'd be the first to tell you that.