Sunday, May 3, 2015

"Hit The Pole, Hit, Hit, The Pole"


         If you have ever visited The Ron Clark Academy, then you will also have this song stuck in your head forever! I had the privilege of attending this magical place on Friday and feel like I have been transformed as an educator. If you have never been there, then STOP what you are doing and go sign up! It's well worth the $$ and the time. I was even more blessed by being able to travel with my 2nd grade teammates, Literacy Facilitator, and fellow blogger Kristin, at School and the City.

         There were many aspects of RCA that inspired me, but the one that stood out the most were the students. The students levels of respect and engagement were truly breathtaking. I was able to interact with many students throughout the day, and most of them held better conversations that most adults I know! Visitors were able to observe lessons in classrooms and during this time I was awed by the student-led teaching and peer-critiquing that was happening. After a student led his peers, then his peers rated him verbally, and cheered with exuberance when his teacher, Ron Clark, gave him an A! You would have thought that this child had just won a million dollars! This was clarified when Mr. Clark remarked that this was the first A he had given all year! In May! The way that students supported one another brought tears to my eyes. They were truly happy for their peer!

        Another inspiring aspect of RCA was the too-cool-for-school educators! I mean, really, meeting Hope King from Shenanigans in Second AND seeing how sweet and down to earth she was, AND getting a picture with her was one of the highlights of our trip! THEN we were able to meet her hubby, Wade King, who was just as cool as Hope! Of course, we also took away some amazing teaching strategies to use on Monday, but you will have to go for yourself to see the magic! Teacher confession: on our drive home, back to Charlotte, my team and I may have squealed like school girls screamed a little, when Hope commented on our photo, AND THEN Wade liked it too, AND began following me on IG! #feelingfamous
       Seriously though, all the teachers there were so welcoming and honest. The honesty in this place is what struck me the most. Teachers were honest with students, if they weren't performing to their best ability, then they weren't coddled. They were expected to do better. Be better. Work harder. The teachers were also very honest with the visitors and shared some tough life lessons that they had lived through on their path to becoming educators at RCA.
       There are many life-lessons that I am taking away from visiting RCA. Among them is to be better, we only have one chance to impact the lives of the students sitting in front of us. On the way home my team and I brainstormed ways that we can implement the RCA way into our 2nd grade classrooms for next year. We can hardly wait to begin! We are going to do better. We are going to be better. As Ron Clark would say, we are no longer teachers who sit on the "stool of drool", we are ready to teach, lead, and inspire, all thanks to our new friends at The Ron Clark Academy! Thank You RCA!

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