Friday, October 21, 2011

Re-Opening my Eyes to Instruction

This week I had a great opportunity to be in Alpharetta and Atlanta Georgia.  While in Atlanta I was fortunate enough to be able to go to the Ron Clark Academy and sit in on a class.  This was the first time that I have ever been there and in my normal fashion was late getting to the school.  As we came into the classroom I found a seat on the far side of the room and had walk through the room to sit.  I quickly moved across the room as quietly as I could, while doing so I noticed that non of the students were disrupted by my tardiness and that Ron Clark kept their attention the whole time.

The room was alive with action, Ron Clark was talking, students were responding and interacting to his queues all without giving a second thought to the number of people that were staring at them around the room.  As I looked around the room I thought to myself, wow how can these kids be able to keep focused with almost double their number in adults sitting there watching.  Then Ron turned the tables on us, the adults, he had the students grab an adult to help them work out different math problems he had posted around the room.  So our student led us over to the one of the questions and he was working it out so fast that when it came time to answer it on our ActivExpression we did not even have the unit on and working.  Then we did another activity with the students and we were all engaged in the classroom activity.  Me I was awestruck at how well behaved and comfortable the students were with us in the room.  Almost like it was old hat to them.  I came to find out a short time later that these students had only been in the school for just around 30 days.

At the end of the lesson Ron Clark gave the adults in the room the opportunity to ask questions of the students.  I was amazed again at the students responses.  There were very well spoken and thanked us for asking the questions.  One question that I had my co-worker asked a young girl in the room was how she and the class felt about having all of the adults coming through on a regular basis.  She responded with that is was almost second nature to them and they were happy to have us in the room because were excited to see the students learn and they thrived on the energy.  I heard the question come up about whether or not they were treated differently now that they were at the Academy by their peers.  The answer came out that things had not really changed all that much.

In talking with someone a little bit later who said that these students had come from so many differing situations and felt so proud of what these children had accomplished in just a short amount of time was remarkable.  Me I could not believe it.  Which led me to share on another co-workers blog post It started with a simple question..   what I learned this week and that is, "regardless of a child's situation if they have a goal and are focused on that goal they can overcome and accomplish anything."

Now I am not the type of person that gets overcome by certain things but as we were leaving all of the students in the classroom were shaking our hands and thanking us for coming in and sharing their day with them, but one little girl came up and said I don't shake hands I give hugs and thanked me for being there and sharing in her day.  I could not believe it and was overcome with some emotion that this young child whom had never seen me before was comfortable with hugging a perfect stranger and thanking me for being a part of her class.

Of course we, the adults, all came out into the hallway to go down the slide at the Ron Clark Academy where all of the students from the classroom were at the bottom waiting for us singing and cheering us on as we got to the bottom of the slide.  As we emerged form the slide the children shook our hands and gave us a sticker that said we were "Slide Certified"

This experience has given me a new perspective on my own personal and professional life.  A kind of re-opening of my eyes to certain things and breathing some new life back into this routine which we all get in from time to time.