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

3.86  ·  Rating Details  ·  3,119 Ratings  ·  328 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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Oct 30, 2007 Anna rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Vincent Eisman
May 26, 2013 Vincent Eisman rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
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
Jul 03, 2009 Gwenda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 06, 2013 Laila E 240521 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Linnea McGowan
Mar 08, 2008 Linnea McGowan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myworldsquared
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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
Feb 03, 2012 Nicole rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 01, 2009 Krista rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Vicki Davis
Jun 07, 2014 Vicki Davis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education-books
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
Mar 01, 2009 Lindsay rated it really liked it  ·  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
Aug 17, 2008 Anita rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mr. Z
Mar 08, 2009 Mr. Z rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 26, 2014 Briana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction
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
Katie Nelson
Feb 21, 2016 Katie Nelson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book about 8 years ago and I really enjoyed it then and I wanted to revisit it now for a second reading. I love the author's enthusiasm. I've seen some teachers rate this book pretty low because they feel it is unrealistic for a teacher to be expected to do this much. Maybe it is, but how awesome is it that he actually did these things?! And he did them for children who really didn't have much. Why do others have to cut down someone who actually achieved what many thought was impossi ...more
Adam Watson
Jan 23, 2015 Adam Watson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Apr 05, 2016 Kara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick read but one I believe all teachers should pick up. While reading through his book I began thinking of my own classroom and behaviors I try to correct on a daily basis. Clark has some great ideas as far as rules are concerned, would I use all of them, no. The way he words some rules especially one about not staring when another student is being reprimanded. This is something my 7th graders are constantly doing. I just can't help to think of where we would be now if I had outline ...more
Bill Dilworth
Aug 29, 2009 Bill Dilworth rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
J. Boo
Apr 01, 2016 J. Boo marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Robert Pondiscio his first year as a teacher struggled with classroom management but lucked out when he was switched to take over a more experienced teacher's class mid-year:

"Taking over a new class gave me a fresh start in my first year and an opportunity to undo my rookie mistakes; Clark’s 55 rules helped me develop a hard-nosed action plan to address my prodigious classroom management struggles. It’s worth noting that Clark’s book was a direct repudiation of the training I’d received, which e
Sep 04, 2014 Susan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Erica T
I really want to give this 3.5 but I'll round up...
Ron Clark has a lot of great ideas for working with children and as "America's Educator" I'm sure he knows what he's talking about. However, as a parent I wonder if it's a little over the top. I definitely got some ideas on things I can work with with my own children but wonder if 55 rules is a little much. The thing is, though, maybe a lot of them just need to be labeled as something other than rules. Several are basic manners that he is teachi
Cherise Fisher
Dec 25, 2015 Cherise Fisher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a great easy and interesting read. Awesome for new teachers and those teachers that feel like they are in a teaching rut.
Sep 24, 2008 Emilie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved the 55 rules, and Ron Clark's presentation of them. A very memorable read, with a lot of practical application.
Jul 11, 2014 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Blythe Penland
Oct 08, 2015 Blythe Penland rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought that this book was more than adequate. I honestly don't think I ever would have gotten this book into my hands if not for my wonderful Studio D teachers; Mrs. Farr, Mrs. Soblo (and okay, I guess Mr. Kearse too). I would like to thank them for that. Our Studio D assignment was to read the rules, and after each one, we were to write down the rule in our notebooks and give a reflection, adding up to five or so sentences for each rule altogether. So over the course of the past month (give ...more
Christine Fay
Mar 17, 2015 Christine Fay rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
May 28, 2015 Sarah rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education
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
Rick Christiansen
Jan 31, 2016 Rick Christiansen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching
A quick and easy read. Motivational.
Great quote:
“Rule 55 – Be the best person you can be. Throughout life you are going to be lonely at times, you are going to have your heart broken on occasion, and you are going to feel as if something is missing from your life. No life is lived without some amount of pain and heartache. No matter how bad things get, however, make sure you are always developing into the kind of person you want to be, and the kind of person others will want to be around. It is
Aug 11, 2011 Katie rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: education, 2011books
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
May 13, 2012 Corinne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teaching
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
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What's The Name o...: book about manners by male 6th grade teacher [s] 4 53 Mar 28, 2010 09:26PM  
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  • Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement
  • The First Six Weeks of School
  • Teach Like Your Hair's on Fire: The Methods and Madness Inside Room 56
  • Strategies That Work: Teaching Comprehension for Understanding and Engagement
  • Educating Esmé: Diary of a Teacher's First Year
  • Guiding Readers and Writers: Teaching Comprehension, Genre, and Content Literacy
  • Reading with Meaning: Teaching Comprehension in the Primary Grades
  • Fires in the Bathroom: Advice for Teachers from High School Students
  • Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Need of All Learners
  • 32 Third Graders and One Class Bunny: Life Lessons from Teaching
  • Teaching Outside the Box: How to Grab Your Students by Their Brains
  • 7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It!
  • Teach With Your Strengths: How Great Teachers Inspire Their Students
  • 6 + 1 Traits of Writing: The Complete Guide: Grades 3 & Up: Everything You Need to Teach and Assess Student Writing With This Powerful Model
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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