Today is a day that I will not soon forget...I had an amazing opportunity to hear Ron Clark speak. Not only that...I got my picture taken with him and he autographed his most recent book for me.
Kids idolize athletes and rock stars....teachers idolize Ron Clark! He came at the invitation of one of the principals in our school district who had taken her administrative team to visit the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta. This principal wanted him to come speak to her entire staff at the beginning of the school year, but the cost was too much for her to fund alone. So she sent out the word to several other principals in our district and voila...today I joined several thousand teachers, administrators and staff at a local church where Ron Clark fired us up with his passion, his stories and his enthusiasm. I was so on fire when I walked out of there, I actually regretted the fact that tomorrow was a teacher-student holiday and I will have to wait until Monday to get back in the classroom and use some of this renewed passion for teaching on my students.
He had the crowd on their feet and excited about teaching with his bigger than life personality...and by jumping on the church pews and dancing and singing. His no excuses philosophy was refreshing...especially because he has proven results to back up his theories and ideas. He advocates setting high expectations, starting with your gifted students and expecting ALL students to rise to that expectation rather than dumbing down the curriculum to the lowest students. His personality makes you want to run up and hug him, and you want him to talk forever and share just one more story about his teaching days in North Carolina and Harlem, as well as those in Atlanta.
He told real stories we could all relate to----gifted/talented kids who didn't want to work hard because they know all the answers (or think they do) crazy parents, administrators who have your back in front of a parent, but let you have if behind closed doors, getting to know your kids by doing home visits and going to their sporting events....showing them that you love them and care about them and their education and getting them to care too. One of the best stories he shared was both funny and scary and involved baking cookies and giving them as rewards for hard work....which resulted in an irate parent (that one still has me chuckling and thinking I AM NEVER GOING TO DO THAT!!)
As my colleagues and I left the building we brainstormed ideas for raising the funds to The RCA Experience National Educators Conference next summer in Atlanta. We are pumped up and ready to try many of the ideas he shared today, and that he also shares in his books.
If you haven't read any of his books, I highly recommend them. Check out The Essential 55, The End of Molasses Classes, and The Essential 11
PS- It was also great to run into fellow GCS teacher and fellow blogger Shasta Looper. She was lucky enough to be Ron's tour guide and host for the day. Lucky gal!!!