Thursday, 3 April 2008
Rules for Life
I began to watch a TV movie the other night, not expecting much - the "Ron Clark Story" - a true story about an inspirational teacher who turns around a difficult class in Harlem. Sure, I thought, blah, blah, blah........but the classroom was very realistically portrayed, the attitude, the lack of manners - I began to see that this was, in fact, a true story. This made me very interested in what he was doing to teach them the rules for life. He has made very explicit rules regarding expected behaviour, right down to greeting teachers by name, using eye contact and applauding with both hands for 30 seconds! It's done with humour and intelligence. He not only turned a rabble of a class into a cohesive, well-behaved group, he also raised their SAT scores to equal the best in the area. Now, my class is not that bad, but they do have their moments......so I devised a "Bill of Rights" and listed several explicit expectations including some of Ron Clark's. The change in the class already has been noticeable - "Yes, Miss" sounds so much nicer than "Yeah" , for example. Kids seem to actually need and want this explicit direction - the class has had a much friendlier feel this week. Ron is a truly inspirational character.