Monday, October 16, 2006

The Essential 55

Has anyone picked up this book? It's a quick read, a best-seller written by award-winning NYC teacher Ron Clark, about the 55 rules he uses in his 5th grade classroom (or used to, anyway. Now he's such a bigshot that he's actually opening his own school in Atlanta). TNT also did an original movie back in August, based on his experiences in Harlem, starring Matthew Perry. Not bad.

Anyway, I was browsing in Borders over the weekend, and they had their fantastic 25% off for Educators sale (which, by the way, applies to just about anyone who works in any kind of education setting - including homeschoolers). So I picked up a few books, including this one.

I started it last night. I thought it would be a list of his rules, which it is, at first. But it's more than a list of classroom rules. It's also a list of life rules - which Clark states outright in his introduction. He's a southern boy, so he was raised in the "Yes, ma'am," "No, sir" way of life, and his rules are pretty much about common courtesy. But as you read, it's amazing how many of them, if we followed them on a regular basis, would make our communities happier places.

The funniest one of the 11 I've read so far:

"If someone in the class wins a game or does something well, we will congratulate that person. Claps should be of at least three seconds in length with the full part of both hands meeting in a manner that will give the appropriate clap volume."

He goes on to say he knows how silly this rule sounds outright, but you have to admit, the intention behind it is pretty solid. How often do we really congratulate someone wholeheartedly? How many times do we keep our congratulations to a minimal mumble? How many times are they cloaked in another emotion, like jealousy? Clark also says that if a few students in the class begin to clap, then everyone must join in - because what's worse than a few half-hearted claps? And who's to say what accomplishment is too small to be recognized?

It's a pretty inspirational book, and it's easy to see even from the start why this guy has won several teaching awards.

I'll post some other of my favorites as I work my way through-


Marianne Arkins said...

Okay... I ordered it from the library. I did watch the movie and it was well done and interesting. I hear he has his own school now...

MaryF said...

I love this book! I wish I could keep up with some of the rules in my own classroom!