Saturday, May 28, 2016
I decided to read Hitch 22 by Christopher Hitchens after he died and so many people that I respect wrote moving obituaries on his life and impact. Since I had little knowledge or familiarity with him and his view, other than his fame as an atheist, I decided to learn a little bit more about him by reading his autobiography.
It felt too “inside baseball” and I was unable to relate to much of it. He’s a British intellectual and many of the things and people he casually refers to are unknowns to me.
Additionally, although I realize it is an autobiography, it felt way too narcissistic, even for that genre.
Friday, May 6, 2016
After watching the movie The Ron Clark Story, I became a fan. So I looked up any books he had that the library carried. I found this one, The Essential 55, which contains the 55 rules he implements in his classroom.
These are wonderful, common sense rules very applicable to the 5th graders he teaches. In fact, it’s kind of sad that many of them are necessary at all. So many of them should be common sense or at least taught in the home, like "Wash your hands after using the bathroom." But he sees part of his job to instill in his students the kinds of things they apparently aren't getting elsewhere.
Some of my favorites:
Rule 1. When responding to any adult, you must answer by saying “Yes ma’am” or No sir.” just nodding your head or saying any other form of yes or not is not acceptable.
Rule 2. Make eye contact. When someone is speaking, keep your eyes on him or her at all times. If someone makes a comment, turn and face that person.
Rule 9. Always say thank you within I give you something. If you do not say it within three seconds after receiving the item, I will take it back. There is no excuse for not showing appreciation.
Rule 23. Quickly learn the names of other teachers in the school and greet them by saying things like, “Good morning, Mrs. Graham,” or “Good afternoon, Ms. Ortiz. That is a pretty dress.”
Rule 26. Do not save seats in the lunchroom. If someone wants to sit down, let him or her. Do not try to exclude anyone. We are a family, and we must treat one another with respect and kindness.
Rule 33. When we go on field trips, we will meet different people. When I introduce you to the people, make sure that you remember their names. Then, when we are leaving, make sure to shake their hands an thank them, mentioning their names as you do so.
Rule 35. If someone drops something, pick it up and hand it back to them. Even if they are closer to the object, it is only polite to make the gesture of bending down to retrieve the item.
Rule 52. Accept that you are going to make mistakes. Learn from them and move on.
Rule 55. Be the best person you can be.
The world would be a better place is we all lived by his rules!
- Addendum: At the end he offered a little speech he gives on the first day of class that I think is invaluable:
“I don’t care if you don’t like me. I couldn’t care less. I am not here to be friends with any of you either. I have plenty offends and I don’t need any more. I don’t care if you get mad and call me bad names in your mind. You are more than welcome to do that, because my objective here isn’t to have you like me; it’s to have you learn. I care about each and every one of you, and I am dedicated and driven to giving you the best education possible. I want each of you to know that I am going to do whatever it takes to make that happen, and nothing is going to stand in my way” The funny think about the speech, though, is that I am telling them just as hard as I can that I don’t care if they don’t like me, but at the same time, I am working my butt off to be the type of teacher they will like.