Monday, July 18, 2011

10 Lessons from Ron Clark Academy

A couple of years ago, I had the opportunity to attend a conference at Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta.  It was the absolute best professional development in which I have ever participated.  It changed the way I thought, planned, and conducted myself in my classroom.  The staff's creativity and enthusiasm was contagious.  I clearly remember the excitement I felt as I dared to imagine the possibilities at my own school.
I am headed back to RCA in just a few short weeks - this time for The End of Molasses Classes book release party.

I started calling friends as soon as I saw the notice!  When I called C, I started with," I am not sure exactly what the book is about...".  She responded, "If Ron Clark wrote it, it has to be good."  (She was with me last time.)  So, we (me and 4-5 friends) are taking a road trip.  Why go back?  I remember my last visit and the 10 lessons from RCA:
1.  Be passionate ~ About your subject, yes, but also, about your kids.
2.  Let your imagination go wild ~ Honestly, I would not have thought to invite a graffiti artist to my school in the middle of the night nor would I have dreamed to install a disco ball in my math class.  Both sparked excitement and enthusiasm in the students of RCA.
3.  People want to support people who are making a difference ~ I was amazed at the people who support the school's efforts.  It is clear to see the staff's vision and impact.  Businesses, parents, universities and celebrities have joined their efforts to change the world one child at a time.
4.  Be persistent ~ Teach and re-teach. Ask and ask again.  Make a goal and work toward it everyday.  Keep doing what is right and know that a breakthrough is coming.  Do not grow weary in doing good.
5.  Every child matters ~ Every student has a destiny that only he or she can fulfill.  It is our job to help them reach their fullest potential.
6.  Every child can learn ~ It must be the inherent belief of educators.  It is my responsibility to ensure an environment conducive to high achievement.
7.  Have fun ~ School should be fun; life should be fun.  Sometimes, adults forget to have fun.  Plan for fun.  I played school as a child.  Why? It was fun for me.  Recapture and use the memories of the childhood play to infuse life into the classroom.

A slide to get from the 2nd floor to the first?  Oh, yeah!  Slide certified:)
8.  Bring your whole self to the classroom ~ Embrace your own uniqueness and use your gifts and talents to reach and teach kids others can't.
9.  It's about the kids ~ Without students, we wouldn't need teachers.
10.  Essentials are essential ~ Setting expectations is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves and for our students (Inspiring Teachers).  The Essential 55 is a collection of expectations that address respect, manners, and an appreciation of others.  As a result of our previous visit, we developed our own Essentials for Excellence, expectations that are essential for a lifetime of success.

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