Thursday, December 15, 2016

Two Hoots and A Holler: Magic Comes in the Size of Your Village

Hoot #1

 Jamie's Ron Clark Experience...
Last Thursday and Friday, we were honored to be able to go to the Ron Clark Academy!! I know that you have heard people post about their trips to RCA, but I can tell you that nothing beats actually going there. I left every afternoon exhausted!  My brain was in overdrive! I want to share a few things that I took away from this trip.

1. Teachers should create an environment that makes them happy as much as it does the students. Ron Clark said that after he hires someone, the question that he asks is, "What are some things that you love?" This determines the theme their room will take.  The art work in their building is amazing.

2. The importance of building a community. I have always thought that I have done that so well in my class.  At RCA, they take it to a different level. They do this by creating "houses" within their school.  Every grade is made up of each of the four houses. Students earn points for their house each week by doing good deeds. At the end of the week, the house with the highest points, get to be champion of the house. You can read more about this by downloading the Ron Clark Academy app under resources.
 This is the wheel that determines their house. Every year, new 5th graders get to spin the wheel on their first day of school to determine their house.  That is the house they are a part of until they graduate from RCA.

 Mrs. Gilner and I chose to be a part of the Altruismo house!  We joined in a dance off between our house and the other houses! On Friday, Altruismo spun the wheel for 100 points!  They are now in the lead!  Go black!!

3. I learned about the "Bus System." In each school, there are people that are classified as "Runners", "Joggers" and "Walkers."  "Runners" are those teachers that take initiative. They go the extra mile. They want to perform their best at all times. They want to find solutions. They usually think outside of the box in order to create new interests for the students. "Joggers" are those that are still needed.  They are willing and excited to do. They usually follow the lead of the "Runners." "Walkers" are those that usually complain about how ideas are not going to work. They will not do much more than take up space and count down the days to retirement.
I was so intrigued by this method that I purchased his book Get On My Bus.  It discusses all of these.  It also discusses how to help build a school of "Runners".
You may order this book here

 4. Songs and chants! This was a part of their daily routine. Songs and chants were done on an average of one every 10 minutes (maybe less). These were done to help regain students focus or to help instill previous knowledge. These were always done with a set of drums playing and children up out of their seats. Many of the students were on tables. Love, love, love it!!!!

I plan to implement every bit of this in my classroom. I even want to carry much of this throughout our school.
 Here is a picture of me as we arrived.  I had just made it through the welcome line! All of the students and staff hugged and gave you a high-five. It was simply amazing!!

We can't wait to go back! If you are a teacher. You have to do this!!!
Yes, Jodi and I are now proud to say we ARE slide certified!  So many wonderful memories made!

Hoot #2
Jodi's Ron Clark Experience...
I always knew that one day I wanted to go to RCA, only because of all of the awesome stories I have heard about this school.  I have watched videos, read articles, and seen pictures of RCA over the years.  Nothing that I saw beforehand prepared me for the most empowering professional development I have ever done in my 16 years of teaching! Here are some things that I learned and discovered during this experience:

2.   As teachers, we must find our purpose.  I mean really dig deep into why we do what we do.  Not just because we want to teach, or because it is a high demand.  But really dig down deep and search your soul as to why you teach?  When you think you have your answer, keep asking yourself why?  Every teacher has a purpose.  Once you discover your purpose, then you will truly be able to base your career upon your sole purpose.  Students need purpose as well to feel like they matter, and to know what they are doing is making a difference.  This purpose is found when students are given their house they are a part of for the rest of their years at RCA.  
I challenge each of you to find your why and your purpose! 
3.  When you raise the bar and expect more, the students will rise up to your expectations.  If I teach to the middle student all the time, students think that is my expectation.  But if I teach to the highest student in my class, students will rise to that expectation.  This happens when students and teachers have a strong relationship.  Students must understand that you will never expect less than what they are worth. 

4.  Everybody, no matter who you are, has a story.  Your story can have the power to change someone for the better.  Your story can be told in a negative way leaving you and everyone you surround yourself with just feeling down in the dumps, OR your story can end in a way  that changes people and inspires people.  It is up to you how you write your story, and it is up to you how you tell it.  No matter what has happened to you in life, you can always rise above and come out of all of the negative.  Surround yourself with people who will lift you up, and when you rise above whatever it is that may have you down and is then that you found your story.  How will your story end?

5.  As teachers, we have mastered the act of teaching and the skills it takes to teach.  But where is the passion and the desire to teach?  When did we become so robotic in our teaching that we have lost the art of teaching?  The RCA experience proved that passion is needed to make things happen.  As teachers, we should never lose our passion to teach.  When there is passion in what you do, that is when the real magic happens.
I could go on for days about all the things I learned from this!  It has truly empowered me as a teacher and a person.  It has motivated me to be better, and inspired me to reflect on my teaching practices.  I am FOREVER changed by this experience as a teacher and person. 

This Week's Holler...

The holler this week is simple! It goes out to all of the RCA students! They are the ones that are truly amazing at this school.  They had us amazed by their enthusiasm to learn.  They are simply changing their stars.  I know their parents are so proud of them. We wish we could remember every face and every name so that, one day, when they make a name for themselves, we will be able to say "we knew them when.."

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