Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The End of Molasses Classes, Part 3: Community Connections

The final part of Ron Clark's book is Reaching Out Beyond the Classroom.  He talks about traveling around the world with his students and all of the creative and innovative things that he has done at the Ron Clark Academy.  One of the things that I love is #85 where he suggests always watching a applicant teach before you hire them.  He suggests that you can't always tell from an interview how a teacher is going to do with real live kids.  I remember a Teacher of the Year finalist a few years ago that knocked my socks off in the interview and had a resume that was one of the most accomplished I think we had ever seen.  Then we went to watch her teach and what a disappointment.  She had a marvelous lesson planned but the students were totally disengaged.  One was even asleep on his desk and she just went on teaching, as if every student was actively engaged.  She never stopped.  When she asked a question and not a single hand was raised, she just answered the question and went right ahead.  The problem was that there was no learning going on in that room.  That's the kind of scenario that Clark suggests that administrators avoid by watching the teacher BEFORE they are under contract.

Ron Clark also talks about what it has taken to get and to keep the Ron Clark Academy going.  He has worked 24/7 and has given up many things for his success, including a family. As much as I love his enthusiasm, dedication and commitment to our profession and I see dozens of things that he is doing that I can infuse into my own daily teaching life, I don't think we should ask teachers to lay it all on the line to be successful with children.  I am glad that there are educators like Ron Clark, but we must find a way to have his success without risking the other, balanced parts of our lives.  We will only have global success if we can find that balance.

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