April 8, 2013
In :The Essential 55,” award-winning teacher, Ron Clark shares his “rules” for successful and inspiring teaching.
A ”Fond Farewell” Article
When I changed Support4Change to a new format, I needed to delete some articles that didn’t fit in the new site but were too good to completely throw away. I have moved many of them here to the blog, where they will still be available.
Today’s Fond Farewell is by the late Chris Burdett-Parr, who played an invaluable part in the early days of Support4Change.
The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator’s Rules For Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child by Ron Clark
Review by Chris Burdett-Parr
I first reviewed this book some months ago in an “uncorrected proof” version – looking nothing like the final published version that now sports the fun, animated cover that is so perfectly designed for this book
Even at that time, the material shone out from that bland and basic formatting, and I knew that, yet again, we had found another special, one-of-a-kind book that we could share with visitors to Learning Place Online (Webmaster’s note: LPO was Support4Change’s previous incarnation).
As the cover states, this is “an award-winning educator’s rules for discovering the successful student in every child.”
The award-winning educator is Ron Clark, 2001 Disney Teacher of the Year, and he made it difficult for me to choose just one or two rules from The Essential 55 to feature as examples in this review. Originally from North Carolina, he has been a teacher since 1995, teaching in some of the most difficult schools in the country.
Ron is really a remarkable man, as you will discover by reading the story of how he became a teacher, and that observation will be even more apparent when you reach the acknowledgments section. He is one of those unique people who comes along – all too rarely – offering insight, originality of thought and, above all, understanding and compassion for all people, not just his students.
He acknowledges his 5’1” grandmother who loved “Guiding Light,” collards, and snuff, as a major influence on who he is today:
She, along with my parents, gave me a true southern upbringing, which included respect, manners, and an appreciation of others. In addition to those ideals, I was shown how to enjoy life, take advantage of opportunities, and live every moment to the fullest.
Once I became a teacher, it became evident to me that many children aren’t exposed to the type of guidance and opportunities that I had when I was growing up. I have tried to set an example for my students and be a role model like my family members were for me. In my attempt to give them an outline or a guide to now life should be lived and appreciated, I compiled this list of lessons.
The Essential 55 is well-designed — light in weight, compact, and the typeface is easy to read. The rules are featured, 1 through 45, with a short bold type heading describing each one. This is sometimes followed by an explanation of why the rule is so important, or how the author relates this to his students, and perhaps an anecdote regarding the rule:
Rule 4 — During discussions, respect other students’ comments, opinions, and ideas. When possible, make statements like, “I agree with John, and I also feel that….” or “I disagree with Sara. She made a good point, but I feel that …” or “I think Victor made an excellent observation, and it made me realize…”
This is a rule I feel should be imposed in every boardroom and meeting in every workplace in America as well at every family dinner table. Too often we disregard the comments of others and don’t set the type of climate that will allow people to speak freely and voice their thoughts and opinions. All too often, people are worried about what others will think of their ideas, and that they will be ridiculed or belittled and that their comments will be disregarded. I imagine there are hundreds of times every day when the best idea in the room goes unheard or isn’t even voiced. (He continues with an anecdote.)
We are featuring this wonderful book not only because the lessons taught instruct children on the ways to behave and interact with their teachers and fellow-students while in the school environment, but because of how well those examples also translate long-term into living a responsible and productive adult life.
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