Monday, October 8, 2012

Gotta Start Somewhere

For the past month and a half I have been privileged to be able to combine two things I love: traveling and teaching.  As a part of my job as the School Implementation Specialist for The Ron Clark Academy, I am able to do something that few educators ever get to do in their careers: go into fellow educators' classrooms and watch them teach!

My duties are fairly diverse in this position, but at the core of my job, I am working with teachers on implementing best practices into their classroom.  Thus far, it has been eye opening to be able to watch teachers teach.  This sounds odd, but as a classroom teacher for the past 8 years, rarely did I ever get to venture out of my own classroom.

As a teacher at The Ron Clark Academy, I was able to be observed by over 6,000 educators, so I am no stranger to having people watch me teach, but I am now able to return the favor and subjectively watch others teach and produce a conversation that makes them reflect on their own practices.

I do not pretend to have all of the answers, but I feel that I have a good bag of tricks up my sleeve from over the years that I am willing to share with fellow educators.  In addition, I now able to pick up methods by watching people and then share them with others.  I compare it to a bee, who can carry the pollen from the flower and create more flowers somewhere else.  Did that make sense?  It sounded much better in my head before I typed it out.

I am going to share one of my favorite "gems" from last week from a 4th grade classroom in Greenville, SC.  The teacher began by passing out some basic multiplication worksheets to the students.  I was thinking this was going to be another "sit and practice" kind of activity, but the students were far too excited for it to be a boring activity.  I eagerly watched as the students cleared their desks and had a pencil ready to go.  The teacher turned to the Promethean board and said, "Get ready!"  He clicked on this video and I want you to imagine what happened next.  If your heartbeat isn't racing by the end of the video, you're not human!  What a great way to give a sense of urgency to the activity you're doing.  All goals were met, the teacher allowed the students to practice their math facts, the kids had fun, and the whole activity took less than five minutes.

My journey thus far has taken me to over a dozen schools, observing about 60 teachers, and watching several thousands of students in action.  On several occasions I have had teachers tell me that I should keep a blog about my travels, sharing ideas as they come along.  I was resistant at first, but after a few times it made complete sense.  Why not have a forum to share great ideas?  It's what teachers want - practical, easy to implement, fun ideas.  Also thanks to Hope King, for sharing some other knowledge with me that will come in handy  :) 

So, as I travel around, I will do my best to share some stories, highlight some all-star teachers, and keep ideas flowing on some neat activities that you can do in your classroom.  I also want to put a shameless plug out there for a few things:

1) To learn more about what my job is or to book an on-site visit, you can click here.
2) To visit The Ron Clark Academy on one of our visitations, click here.  
3) I also just joined teachers pay teachers, which is kind of like "eBay" for teachers.  I am digging deep in my files and sharing some units and materials I've created over the years.  You can check out my account here. (It's still a work in progress, I'll be adding more stuff over the next couple of weeks).



  1. Excellent first post, I am looking forward to following your journey.

  2. Thanks Adam I look forward to reading more. I downloaded the video already and we will be using it in math class tomorrow!

  3. Fantastic idea! Can't wait to read more. : )

  4. Sometimes it only requires a small amount of creativity to change the energy in a classroom. #simplyfantastic