Rafe Esquith: Talking About Real Teaching

Rafe Esquith and his students

What is the difference between ordinary and extraordinary students? Rafe Esquith specifically chose to work with disadvantaged kids because he believes that what makes students extraordinary are the people who help them develop, and of course this includes their teachers.

Rafe often puts in 12 hour days in the classroom, arriving at 6 in the morning and leaving at 6 in the evening. As a result many students also choose to arrive and leave at those times as well. It also means that he has the opportunity to teach students topics outside of the defined curriculum.

90% of his students are below the poverty level and none have English as their first language yet they achieve in top 5 to 10% in the United States on standardised tests; which says that he must be doing something right.

He has written 4 books and was the subject of a documentary film “The Hobart Shakespearians” about his fifth grade Hobart Elementary school students putting on their annual Shakespeare play.

His books are highly personal, describing his perspectives, experiences and the techniques he uses as a teacher rather than a prescription for teachers and parents. He doesn’t expect all teachers to be able to put in similarly long hours as he does but he hopes to inspire others by the success his students have achieved.

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There Are No Shortcuts is his first book and is now required reading at Purdue University for the subject Exploring Teaching as a Career.

Teach Like Your Hair’s on Fire contains many practical how to directions for most of his most effective classroom activities.

Lighting Their Fires: Raising Extraordinary Children in a Mixed-up, Muddled-up, Shook-up World is a slim book that looks at building student’s character and while teachers will find it interesting it is also the best book for parents to read.

Real Talk for Real Teachers: Advice for Teachers from Rookies to Veterans: “No Retreat, No Surrender!” is his latest book. Well received by new teachers it also contains lots of useful advice for experienced teachers as well.

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