03 July 2008

The Essential 55

I recently read The Essential 55: An Award-winning Educator's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child by Ron Clark. I picked it up after catching the tail end of The Ron Clark Story recently. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a sucker for teacher stories. I also was hoping to pick up a few pointers for polishing up my own kids' behavior.

The book is pretty much as the title describes it. Mr. Clark uses 55 rules to govern his classrooms, and they are all listed in the book with several anecdotes mixed in. Perhaps it is because Mr. Clark is also a North Carolinian, but I found that most of the rules were things that we already teach our kids. Calling grownups "ma'am" or "sir" is common practice here. All parents don't teach their kids those niceties, however, so I can see how it would be useful to do so in the classroom. The anecdotes had a bit of a self-congratulatory tone, but that may just be because I had Matthew Perry's face in my head as I was reading it.

I would say that if you are a new teacher, The Essential 55 might give you a good framework to start with for setting classroom boundaries. I'm not sure that there is much for a parent to get out of it, though.

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