Rafe's passion for students is very honorable, but I found myself feeling anger towards him and his actions while reading. While I respect the work of this phenomenal teacher, I have to describe him as INTENSE. I am afraid I would never measure up if I were the teacher next door. Rafe goes in debt because of supplies, resources, and trips he funds for his classroom. He exhausts himself to the point of vomiting blood (while being the only chaperon on a camping trip for students), and he cannot afford to replace or fix his old car, so he puts himself in dangerous situations while traveling to and from school daily.
I made of list of adjectives that describe Rafe. I came up with exhausting, relentless, and excessive. Then I was forced to consider his "why". He does all of these things FOR HIS STUDENTS. His "why" is beyond deserving! I was forced to ask myself what I would sacrifice for students, colleagues, and families that I serve. This led me to discover the inspiration in Rafe's stories.
2. Teach students to believe in a growth mindset.
3. Be selective about the text you read to/with students. Choose authentic challenging text that you personally love.
4. Explicitly model and practice correct behavior and provide exemplars to demonstrate correct behavior for different environments.
5. Differentiate instruction for students and adult learners.
6. Provide extra time that students require to learn. (There are no shortcuts!)
7. "Pretty good" is not good enough. Have high expectations and reach for greatness. Place the same demands on yourself that you place on your students.
8. Teaching kindness has to be part of the class mission.
9. Grow from the pain or the mistakes learned from teaching.
10. Let your students know that you will always love them and believe in them. There is nothing they can do to make you stop caring.
11. Be the person you want your students to be. If you want your students to work hard, be the hardest working person they know. If you want your students to be kind, be the kindest human being they ever met. Teach by example, not lecture.
Rafe describes teaching as the easiest job in the world. You can let the administrators tell you what to do, let the teaching guides tell you what work to assign, and let the veteran teachers help with forms and classroom management. Within the ease of teaching you can also head home by 3:00 daily and take a 3 month vacation. On the other hand, if you care about teaching and make sacrifices for your students, teaching is the hardest job ever! There are no shortcuts!