It all started last summer. …I mean, I have always been a Ron Clark fan. The summer before I started college I remember reading his book, The Essential 55, and being completely inspired. …but last summer, after I read Crash Course by Kim Bearden, the co-founder of RCA, I officially added visiting Ron Clark Academy to my bucket list. It is, hands down, the BEST professional development book I have ever read. I laughed, I cried, and I learned so much from this book, yet not one sentence was written to tell me how to teach. It was honest, moving, inspiring, and motivating. READ IT!!
okay. Visiting Ron Clark Academy was officially on my to do list, but I didn’t actually think it was going to happen any time soon. …then, we did it. We leapt. We decided we were going to make it happen. period. [Can I just tell you how truly blessed I am to be on staff with these ladies!? Holly @ Mrs. Ehle’s Kindergarten Connections, Brittany, and Michelle are the most incredible support system. I love them and all of the amazing plans we have for the future! #positiveposse.]
…so on Thursday we started our road trip. Fort Wayne, Indiana to Atlanta, Georgia is a little much for one day, so we made a detour to Nashville where I splurged on my first Kendra Scott necklace and went on a self-guided tour of Opryland.
[I know, Michelle is missing, but don’t worry, she catches up with us in Atlanta.]This sounds ridiculous, but I had so many butterflies as we rode that shuttle from our hotel to RCA for the first time. I had so many expectations, but at the same time I had no idea what to expect. …well, let me tell you, it blew every single one of my non-expectations out of the water. As we entered the library, and had our picture taken with THE Ron Clark, the music was blaring, everyone was dancing, and we were immediately greeted by the students of RCA. The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur; the students gave us tours of their AMAZING school, we were able to observe some of the BEST teachers in action, and we were sorted into houses. #reveurforlife. oh, and there was one heck of a party in the gym. …and by party I mean a full out concert.
On Saturday we attended a variety of workshops, observed students and teachers in action, attended a special viewing of their spring musical, AND became SLIDE CERTIFIED!! …because why should we be taking the stairs when we can take risks and SLIDE!!? …but honestly, by the end of the day, my brain was spinning. I was in awe of RCA’s expectations of students and staff. There was just so much to take in.
[yes, that is Hope King!!]As if everything we had experienced so far wasn’t enough, TAcKy PRoM was Saturday night. oh my goodness. …I think this picture speaks for itself.
…it was our last morning in Atlanta that truly pulled everything together for me. I had so many ideas swirling around in my brain. I just kept asking myself, how do I take this back to my school and make a difference? How do I create this excitement for learning? How do I inspire my students to succeed; to take the SLIDE? …it was like the RCA staff was reading my brain. We spent the morning hearing from some of RCA’s exceptional educators. Wade and Hope King talked about the changes they made at their school after they visited RCA for the first time. Kim Bearden reminded us to seek SIGNIFICANCE not achievement. Ron Clark talked about connecting with the students and making each learning experience an adventure. #bestdayever.
okay. …so, here are the things I am taking away from my trip to Ron Clark Academy.
- Next year my room is going to be THE place to be. I already kind of love my classroom, but I plan to add a few extra personal touches to take it to the next level. “It isn’t fluff. It is the first step to engagement.”
- I WILL put in the extra time to transform my classroom for some of my favorite units. …I’m not exactly sure how, but my classroom will look drastically different when my students show up on that first morning of my Picture Book Production unit.
- I will be AWESOME!! …let’s face it, teachers are entertainers. If I want my students to buy into their education then I better be ALL in with them. I will definitely be using some different “call and response” chants in my classroom next year and if I can get my short little legs up on our desks without breaking myself, that will happen too!!
Ron Clark Academy was AMAZING!! …really, AMAZING doesn’t even begin to describe it. …and since I didn’t get a good picture with Kim Bearden, I fully intend to go again!!
go. seriously. Just make it happen. It will be so incredibly worth it!