It is no secret that i was really pumped after listening to Kim Bearden, cofounder of the Ron Clark Academy speak in Lexington in early August. If it was possible to move my family to Atlanta I am telling you I would be on the first plane to join the excitement (if they would even have me)!
After reading Kim’s book as well as Ron Clark’s I knew that I needed to find a way to bring some of what they do into my own school. I am not going to steal their thunder or tell you exactly what they do because I am sure i wouldn’t do it justice but I am going to try and describe weekly what my team is doing to bring a bit of RCA to us. If you are interested in learning more I HIGHLY recommend any of Kim and Ron’s books
Friday Town Hall Meetings
We slightly altered our Friday afternoon schedule to include an extra 30 minutes at the end of the day to have a little team town hall get together before the weekend. Our plan is to be flexible with this time to use it as needed to address issues on the team while also strengthening the core relationships on our team. A few things that we are going to strive to do in this 30 minutes are:
- Introduce our “Essential 55” rule of the week. These have been adapted from Ron’s book. We are introducing a new one each week and then are using our team incentive system to reward the kids for adopting the rule.
- Team building activity to build camaraderie in heterogenous groups amongst kids that don’t usually have classes together.
- Honor a “Golden Equestrian” Award winner each week who exemplifies the qualities we are striving to impart.
- Help students develop the “soft skills” needed to be a citizen in today’s world
- Deal with any team issues that may arise as a whole group.
Our first experience with this took place last week with what I thought was a great deal of success. Here is a quick run down of what we did!
The essential skill of the week was:
To always address staff and adults as sir and ma’am. So far the kids have done great with this. I have never heard so many sirs and ma’ams used in my life this week in my class. We have randomly been rewarding students with our team “e-bucks” at our discretion. (We did make sure to emphasize that rewarding for this was a teacher decisions and wouldn’t be done each time and would never be done if they asked!)
The team building activity was:
We had the kids count off my 8’s to do this so they were mixed up amongst classes and groups. We did a little competition to see who could get finished first.
We went over a few team housekeeping things and stressed to the kids what a great first 3 days of school we had. The 1st “Golden Equestrian” will be awarded this week and I can’t wait!
In the future:
I am interested to see how this grows and develops over the course of the next year. I hope the kids will really buy into and get excited about our Equestrian Award. I hope that we will be able to teach them skills such as hand shaking and making eye contact that we know they desperately need in order to participate in the “real world” one day. In my head I see having community professionals coming in to help us, a large etiquette dinner to help them practice their skills, and a chance for them all to give a formal presentation or make a video resume of some sort. I am sure it won’t be perfect. I am sure I will get frustrated. I am sure there will be times when the teachers on my team will want to kill me but in the end I think it will be worth it! Thanks RCA for the ideas and inspiration and a huge thank you to Allyson, Zoey, and Adam for believing in me and going along with all the nonsense I come up with. There are few people who would agree to do the crazy things I come up with (like spray painting plastic horses gold at 9 p.m. Allyson)!