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The Essential 55: An Award-Winning Educator's Rules for Discovering the Successful Student in Every Child

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  2,757 ratings  ·  296 reviews
The runaway bestseller that's a must-have for every parent and teacher. How many authors would travel coast to coast on a bus to get their book into as many hands as possible? Not many. But that's just what Ron Clark, author of The Essential 55, did to keep his book and message in the public eye. And it worked. After his Oprah appearance, sales skyrocketed: we've sold more ...more
ebook, 224 pages
Published September 1st 2003 by Hyperion (first published January 1st 2003)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Anna
I agree with Ron that students must LIKE and RESPECT teachers in order to get the most out of their experience with them.

I disagree that I should take them on endless field trips, bake them cookies every night as a condition of doing their homework, and be responsible for teaching them how to use a knife and fork. You'll notice a conspicuous absence of references in this book to Ron Clark's [wife][girlfriend][partner][significant other][children][pets][etc.]. Maybe that's because he spends all h
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Vincent Eisman
Egads! People take the idea of having 55 rules seriously!? And further, rules that are so exceedingly specific or absurdly general? Rules that dictate how a student is to behave at home!? I couldn't remember 10 rules myself, even if I wrote them (I believe Harry Wong suggests no more than five). And finally, rules that aren't even enforceable!? Sheesh. New teachers, please learn and practice the difference between teaching worthy principles (which most of the 55 are) and making rules.

Student mot
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Gwenda
Can you say overachiever? Wow--55 rules?? That's a lot!! Did anybody else think that this guy has way too much time on his hands and needs to get a personal life? I mean, really, could anyone WITH A FAMILY do all that out-of-class extra stuff for his students--field trips, cookie-baking, fundraisers, preparing special rewards, etc.? Most of his rules are basic good manners, and I agree that they need to be taught/reinforced in the classroom, but I was so overwhelmed with the totality of it all t ...more
Laila E 240521
The essential 55 rules
This book is the most interesting than any book that I read before. And I recommend you to read it. Although from the title it seems little boring because, it has rules steps and advices, but I like these kinds of books. This book is for the writer Ron Clark; in this book he is talking about many rules that he set them for kids, children, teenagers and parents. These rules are going to guide teachers how to deal with kids and teenagers in different situation. It also gives
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Linnea McGowan
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Christina
The Essential 55
By Ron Clark-
How To (non-fiction)
The things I enjoyed about this book were how all the rules didn’t apply just to school or work… but to everything in life. These rules are not too much to ask for, but they are used to show what kind of person you set yourself as and how to respect people and them to respect you back. Although I enjoyed reading all the rules that are very important, the rules were presented in the book in a list instead of a story. I think it would be a lot more
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Nicole
There was some good stuff in here - mostly for first year teachers - but really, I just found him fussy and condescending. I liked that he admitted his mistakes, and learned from them, but the writing was less conversational as it was authoritative (in some parts) which was irritating (as I'm sure it would be if it were being read by a teacher peer).

So, some good reminders of what teachers (and parents) should expect from children, but I think it could've been narrowed down to his "Top 10" - per
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Krista
A nice little book but falls too easily into the category of self-congratulatory idolization of ordinary ideas. And fairly poorly written; this guy would come across better chatting than writing.

AND when he was on his point about washing hands in the bathroom, after waxing quite eloquent about how to get a paper towel before you wash your hands to use to handle the faucet, going into great detail about how to use it to dispense soap, too, he, shockingly, says nothing about using the paper towel
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Vicki Davis
I loved this book- not so much because I am going to adopt his rules for my classroom word for word- I am not. I do believe however that there are some essential aspects of great teaching within this book, particularly in a time when some parents- not all but some- are not teaching kids things they need to know to be successful. Manners go a very long way as well as learning to respect yourself and others. My hope is that those who read this book will develop their own unique rules for their cla ...more
Lindsay
Mar 01, 2009 Lindsay rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Teachers of all grades
Mr. Clark came to Sarasota to motivate teachers just before the big budget hammer came down upon us, and as a Level III intern about to graduate, he was highly intriguing, very motivating, and a lot of fun. I immediately ran to B & N after school that day to pick up his book, but I must admit that he is much more captivating in person. His "essential 55" could be pared down quite a bit, and you will definitely need to pick and choose the rules that are most important to you and what you expe ...more
Anita
I had the opportunity to hear this author at our teacher convocation this year and immediately bought both his books. Ron Clark is an inspired speaker and writer, giving valuable tips for a beginning or veteran teacher on ways to build a classroom community, let children know they are safe and cared about, and create a learning environment that encourages each child to achieve their personal best.

I would recommend this book to teachers and parents. It is a fast read but one that merits rereading
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Mr. Z
Personally I think 3-5 classroom rules is plenty to set the tone for a stable academic environment. But if you have the time and energy to discuss 50+ rules with your students, this book gives you plenty of ideas of where to start. What I enjoyed more than Ron Clark's "rules" was his contagious passion for teaching and reaching kids. His rules might not fit every teacher's philosophy, but his passion should be commended and embraced by all. I enjoyed both his book and the movie that later came o ...more
Briana
This review is also posted at Pages Unbound Book Reviews.

Ron Clark’s rules for teaching probably will not speak to every teacher, but they do provide a great basic guideline for teaching a very specific set of students: young children in at-risk schools. Clark’s teaching experience began in rural North Carolina, where many of his students had never travelled beyond the borders of their own state. He later took up a position teaching in Harlem. In both cases, he was working in schools with high t
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Adam Watson
I saw Ron Clark live at an SDE conference in Las Vegas in 2014. He is definitely one of the most energetic, charismatic educators you will ever meet. So it took a while, but I finally got around to reading one of his books.

This book is a solid four star book for a beginning or struggling elementary or middle school teacher, and perhaps a three star for anyone else. When Clark is sharing his anecdotes, he is absolutely laugh out loud amusing (or the opposite, may make you tear up) while making a
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Bill Dilworth
I thoroughly dislike this book. Yes, most of the rules themselves are good. Yes, I have applied some of them in my teaching. But the way that he implements them, and his attitude towards his students, struck me as demeaning.
Susan
The author, Ron Clark, earned the 2001 Disney Teacher of the Year Award. In this book, he goes through his 55 classroom rules for (not surprisingly) discovering the successful student in every child.

I began reading one of these rules each night to the girls after dinner. They are nothing earth-shattering, but they're things that are just good to know, and be reminded of every now and then: Make eye contact. Respect others' ideas and opinions. Do not save seats. Say thank you within three seconds
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Erica Rogers
I saw Ron Clark speak at a conference before buying this book. If you've heard him speak, you have basically already read this book. It was disappointing to realize I had already heard most of the stories. Also, this book comes across as a lot of "Hey, look at all this amazing stuff I'm doing while putting students before everything, EVERYTHING in my life". Hearing Ron Clark speak really motivated me to put more into my students, but the book made me realize I'll never be as awesome as Mr. Clark ...more
Emilie
Loved the 55 rules, and Ron Clark's presentation of them. A very memorable read, with a lot of practical application.
Rachel
I enjoyed this book, and it is abundantly clear that Ron Clark is a phenomenal teacher who goes above and beyond for his students. My issue was that it ended up feeling a little authoritative and sometimes manipulative in the way that the rules were explained. Also, some of the rules were a little petty. I don't think that was the intention. However, overall I really appreciated that he was thinking about what behaviors a child needs as an adult, and takes it on himself to teach those behaviors. ...more
Christine Fay
Well, I saw the movie and he reminded me of Mr. Getchell – the same enthusiasm for all of his children, and his caring about their individual successes. It really takes a lot of time out of your life to be a really effective teacher. I am so glad that he was nominated and then won Disney’s Teacher of the Year. Now, he is putting together his own school in Georgia. These ‘55’ are rules with which he managed his classroom and tried to mold his students into decent citizens. I enjoy learning about ...more
Sarah
This guy has a lot of good ideas on how to teach children and then he has a lot of bad habits. Over 40% of the rules he has focus on manners and not specific classroom behaviors. And then there are the techniques he uses to really bring home his rules to the students. So many of them are humiliating and condescending. Every time he would include one of these he would specifically say this isn't meant to humiliate. well just because you say that doesn't make it true. this is definitely a book for ...more
Katie
What an admirable teacher!

Reading the below comments, I felt that everyone operates differently. These 55 rules worked well for him, but it won't work for everyone. The point of the book being written was to have a catch-all for teachers to refer to as a guide. For instance, my school adopted 23 of the manner requirements for the students to follow and it doesn't need to be stated...they just become engrained. As someone mentioned, Harry Wong's rule of five posted rules works well for students t
...more
Corinne
Received book in a book exchange through reddit. Ron Clark has "55 Rules" he uses in his classroom. His effective methodology reinforces what all teachers know... students need structure and consistency to be motivated and successful. I definitely have some take home bits from this book. He teaches 5th grade so he doesn't see 7 classes of 8th grade students, so I will have to adjust some of his things. I like how he addresses manners, so I am trying to figure out how to apply that to students I ...more
Adriane Devries
Ron Clark’s mission in “The Essential 55” is to rescue rules from the bad rap they’ve acquired in pop culture over the last 35 years or so. He shows through his own teaching time in classrooms full of what others would label as “problem students” that the right rules, combined with the right attitude of love and concern for the students, deliver incredible results in both student learning and social growth. He insists that it is possible to, in a relatively short time, instill respect, manners a ...more
John
There are good ideas in here. Ron Clark obviously cares about his kids, and he has high expectations for them. I can see why he won National Teacher of the Year awards and why he had a book deal and movie made about his life.

Teaching is a demanding profession. He does it to the best of his ability, and he has been nationally recognized for his hard work.

Every one of the rules makes sense. Consistency is the key to classroom discipline. You can make every kid memorize 5 rules or 55 rules, but if
...more
Amanda
While I think it is great that the author was able to go into an urban school and have a positive impact on his students, I don't necessarily see his method of classroom management/molding instruction to be effective in the long run. A lot of his rules seem arbitrary (and in fact, he admits to have a purposely arbitrary rule) and, having been an adolescent recently myself, I can see how teenaged students would not want to follow his rules. Some of his rules seem to exist for the sake of having r ...more
Kelly
Clark is a force to be reckoned with; people who read his stuff/follow him either tend to love him or find him irritating. The guy has energy and passion, and even if an educator only subscribes to a few of his edicts/suggestions, students will benefit. I feel some of his comments are right on the money and others are difficult to attain (if one wants a life outside the classroom). I remember visiting the first school room in CA a few years back and reading the rules for the teacher. A female te ...more
Rebecca
This book was sitting in a set of boxes of books my mom asked me to clear out of her house. I'd heard of Ron Clark and had seen him on "Waiting for Superman". So I decided to give it a try.

Most of the early rules are dead-on fabulous ("When homework is assigned, do not moan or complain"). Some of the rest are good and reasonable. A couple of the last ones are pithy ("live life to the fullest"). A small handful are plain silly, such as instructing kids how to wash hands or use forks. Editing the
...more
Carmen
A list of fifty-five rules to enforce in the classroom, written by an award-winning educator. I respect Clark in that he found himself in the field of education by chance, and seemingly had a knack for classroom maintenance, something that does not come naturally to most people. He sets very high expectations for student behavior, and I agreed with many of his suggestions. However, he includes some odd rules, such as recording a videotaped lesson so that substitutes just need to pop in the tape ...more
Meghan Sochocki
"Rule 47: Do not bring Doritos into the school building."

Really, Ron Clark?

Several of these rules were completely arbitrary. Mr. Clark seems very condescending and nitpicky. There were a few positive insights here, such as how student/teacher respect creates an important bond, but overall, it seems like the focus should be more on teaching and learning, and less on bake sale fundraisers and what to wear on a field trip.
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Ron Clark has been called "America's Educator." In 2000, he was named Disney's American Teacher of the Year. He is a New York Times bestselling author whose book, The Essential 55, has sold over 1 million copies and has been published in 25 different countries.

--from the author's website

Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more
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More about Ron Clark...
The End of Molasses Classes: Getting Our Kids Unstuck: 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers The Excellent 11: Qualities Teachers and Parents Use to Motivate, Inspire, and Educate Children The Essential 55 Workbook: Essential 55 Workbook Move Your Bus: An Extraordinary New Approach to Accelerating Success in Work and Life Surviving the Emergency Room: Expecting the Unexpected

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