Author, Ron Clark, is such an amazing inspiration to teachers everywhere. You might know him from his movie starting Matthew Perry, The Ron Clark Story, his appearance on Oprah, or being named as Disney’s Teacher of the Year. Clark recently opened up his own school, The Ron Clark Academy in Georgia. Clark has captured his tools for success (not in fame but in teaching) into a terrific new book: The End of Molasses Classes: Getting our Kids Unstuck 101 Extraordinary Solutions for Parents and Teachers.
For me, reading this book could be described as a movement towards grounding my personal philosophy of education. I consider myself a ‘teaching spaz.’ When the doors to my classroom are closed, I become quite a different person… rather a child. Thus, Clark’s story really speaks to me. I understand how some may be taken back by his extreme enthusiasm; but for me, perhaps it’s the x-cheerldeader or debate and thespian in me… I really relate to his style. I’m not at full energy every day… but I try to be – I see the difference in the kids!
My hero’s in education are: Alfie Kohn, Daniel Pink, Sir Ken Robinson, Dr. Spencer Kagan, Maria Montessori, and Ron Clark. I enjoy an active student-centered classroom where the learning and teaching is shaped daily by the children. We are organized, structured, spontaneous, caring, messy, and a family. Everything we are… we aren’t. There is routine; however, each day is a new adventure. Expectations are clear, yet learning transpires through natural discussion based on our experiences and own fascination. The children take ownership of their lessons as I’m simply their guide. We follow the standards, but incorporate our own interests.
Clark helped me to learn how to do this.
In a time where ‘there isn’t much time’ to fit it all in… Clark helps remind us what is truly important in education. I’m a firm believer that if we build community first, there will be more time in the long run for academics. There isn’t really a better way to explain it than to just open the pages and begin… The End of Molasses Classes is a no excuse read on how to rise above, have values, build relationships, and become an active player is shaping our future as the vessles of our practice.
I believe many teachers hold these principles true. My wish is that the leaders and shakers in our profession did, too. I’m hearing more and more of friends participating in ‘school of choice.’ I even know people who, like Clark, are opening their own school. What an amazing journey! The common thread I’m finding is that people are doing this so that they can follow their hopes and dreams for teaching how they feel is ‘right.’ They aren’t following trends of high dollars and upscale environments. They’re following trends where there is a place that supports and cultivates a love for the child. Teachers are moving to teach in buildings where there isn’t more pay… but more opportunity to be creative, be involved, and actually teach! I know this to be true from personal connections that I’ve shared with others and witnessed myself. Frankly, I think it’s amazing! I just wish that all teachers had the opportunity to teach for the love of teaching in a place (building, district, state) that supported those methods… where class sizes were small and resources were available. We don’t need the best of technology, new books, or nice furniture. We need a space that is not overcrowded and a culture that is trusting of teacher creativity and supportive of quality professional development.
Whoa… off my soapbox and back to the give-away…
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click here to read more about this book and connect to Ron Clark’s site