Posted by: Bill | August 11, 2009

The best teacher in America?

Maybe, just maybe. I read Rafe Esquith’s first book a couple years back and it was hard to believe what he accomplishes in a 5th grade classroom is possible. However, there has been enough media attention that I very much believe that he is that good. As Jay Matthews writes in a short profile on Rafe in the Post, one reason is his devotion to his students (55-60 hours a week + Saturdays). Obviously, Mr. Esquith is not scalable, but he is, no doubt, amazing and worth reading about.



  1. Why isn’t he scalable? Is it because the average teacher doesn’t think their pay is worth 55-60 hours a week? That creates a bit of cognitive dissonance for me, in that I don’t think anyone goes into teaching for the money. At what level of weekly work (in hours) does teaching (for the average teacher) go from being a passion to being not worth the extra effort?

  2. I think what this guy is able to accomplish is not as much about the time he puts in (although that is necessary) and more because he is a force of nature. That is why he is not scalable. I do recommend his first book for teachers though as I like some of his ideas, especially the economic system he sets up in his classrooms.

    As for the hours, there are probably a lot of teachers who work that hard and also just as many who don’t put in more then 35 hours in a week.

  3. While I agree that no teachers get into the field for the money — I would also say that not all teachers get into teaching because they are PASSIONATE about it and will work any number of hours a week to accomplish everything they can. Here are some various (and real) reasons people get into teaching:

    1. They like the various breaks/summers off.

    2. They like sports/coaching — this is NOT just PE teachers.

    3. They like kids.

    4. They are passionate about the subject they teach — which is NOT the same as being passionate about teaching.

    5. They tried something else and found it to be too monotonous/empty even though it paid more money.

    This guy is clearly passionate about teaching itself.–just like the best doctor, lawyer, and investment banker in the world are probably passionate about their careers. Teaching is just another career –and it should be neither romanticized nor vilified. Treating teaching & teachers in a practical, realistic manner (which I believe is what Bill & ABCTE favor) is most likely to result in an overall improvement in the field.

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