Thursday, September 22, 2016

Ron Clark Academy

Last weekend was a trip of a lifetime!! No matter what I say in this long post, I will not be able to relay how much the trip and the knowledge I gained changed me! I went with some amazing blogging/instagram friends Teaching and so Fourth, Teach 2 Reach, Engaging Station, Teaching 3rd with Mr. G, Head over Hills for Teaching, Our Best and Brightest, Little Lovely Leaders and Miss 5th. We met up in Atlanta, Georgia to attend the Ron Clark Academy.  We were amazed by what we saw and learned.  Mr. Clark is a dynamic teacher and so is the whole staff at RCA.  We were met in front of the school by students and staff. Here is a picture before our day at RCA began.
We started our day with Mr. Clark giving us a quick talk on top of the tables of the cafeteria area.  
RCA focuses on RIGOR, ENGAGEMENT AND CULTURE. They are extremely successful in these areas.  They also use the Essential 55 Rules in their school.  I love these rules and will try to touch on how these are seen in the school but honestly this is a school that just needs to be seen!! Below is the book - I love all his books.  This is a great one to start with.  I also recommend the audio book. 
We were able to observe classrooms and attend workshops held by staff members.  The school was beautiful and each classroom was designed by the teacher of that classroom.  

The school does not have bulletin boards but photos of students and their families all over the hallways.

We sat in Mr. Clark's 5th grade math class.  Wow!!! It was hard core.  The students were doing harder algebra than I did in High School.  This was only after a week of school.  The expectations the school puts on the students are high and the students meet those challenges.  In the classroom, we saw teachers standing on stages, tables and chairs.  You would also see students doing the same.  Students tracked teachers and/or students as they spoke. They had to sit up, lean forward and track speaker.  When students spoke in the classroom, they did not raise their hands but stood up to answer or respond to discussion.  The students spoke in complete sentences and if another student disagrees, they stand up and say " I disagree with _____ and this is why_____"  The conversations they were having were amazing.

At RCA you will see some creative teaching in the classroom.  Teachers make their learning personal.  Mr. Fleming states it perfectly: They are interested when it is about them!  They make it engaging.  While we were there, Hope King was doing a book tasting in her class.  Wade King shared several lessons that sounded fun and I wanted to be a part of like Word Sneak and Egg Roulette.  Throughout the day you would hear kids singing, chanting and cheering each other on.  The school uses a house system.  It is like fraternities in the school  There are 4 houses that compete through the year.  When students come into the school at 5th grade.  The new students spin the House wheel and runs up to go down the slide.  When they come down the slide the wheel has stopped designating which house they will belong to and their house is at the bottom of the slide accepting them into their house. 
We were there on Friday, so at the end of their day they houses danced/sang/rapped.  After the houses performed, teachers then chose students to spin the wheel for their house.  Here is a video of this.  I want you to notice a couple things in this video. 1.  At RCA teachers are constantly speaking with their hands and moving with purpose.  2.  The students are following one of the essential rules of congratulating classmates.  They don't just clap; they are sincere and enthusiastic towards that students accomplishments.

After our day of training we were slide certified and now ready to head back to our schools.  We take back our new understanding of what our schools should be!! If you have the opportunity, PLEASE go!! You will not regret it.  

The kids were the sweetest and were a joy to speak with.  They sang to us at the end of our day. This melts my heart!!


  1. This made me tear up a little! I absolutely adore Ron Clark. When I started using the Essential 55 in my classroom, things changed big time. Knowing that the WHOLE SCHOOL cheers everyone else one and there is so much sense of family in that school gives me chills. I can only hope this becomes a norm for schools around the country. It is obviously really working!

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