I thought the best way to get the ball rolling here would be to share with you one of my favorite teaching books. This book was recommended by a Spanish speaking teacher friend of mine when he first moved to Denver. I carried it around with me for a good month or so. It wasn't until he asked for it back that I actually read it. Boy am I glad I did! I read it in about two days and then went and bought it so I can re-read it whenever I want to. I usually read it in early August before school starts. (Though this summer I re-read it in April and then loaned it to one of the teachers at my school.) Are you sitting on the edge yet wonder WHAT COULD IT BE?! Here it is...
55 Rules for kids may seem ridiculous, and at times I think, what the what? But as you read each of his rules it just makes sense. I haven't gone all the way in adopting all 55 rules for my classroom, but I do think I hit on most of them in some way, shape, or form. I love too how much he is willing to do for his students! I know we all give a lot as teachers. We spend our own money on many things, we spend our time when we should be with our families planning, grading, or prepping. We go to this game and that dance recital, and in general go above and beyond. Ron however left me wondering if I could do more. The answer I came up with was, yes. I can do more. And doing more doesn't have to take time away from my personal life. It can be simple things.
Here are the "mores" I'm planning this year:
- Browning Points: My students can earn browning points (much like marbles in a jar). When they fill the whole pan, I'm going to make them brownies. Ryan and I can bake brownies together and he can be the taste-tester.
- Simple note home: I ordered some postcards from Vistaprint recently. Nothing fancy, and they will take about 60 seconds to write things like, "Johnny got a 100% on spelling today!" or "Sally knew all of her math facts." You get the idea.
- Organize fun and unique learning opportunities. I recently was talking someone who was a medic in the military. He was telling me about how important Jesus is in his life and how through his job in the military he was able to share Jesus with some Muslims. People have neat stories. I want my kids to hear those stories and learn from them in a manner in which they don't even realize they are being taught.
In summary, Ron Clark's book is an excellent read. I HIGHLY recommend it. I think first year to seasoned teachers would benefit from it. Also, what are you doing different (or maybe the same but it works really well) in your classroom this year that's the extra mile? Believe me, I know, you're all going that extra mile! Keep it up!
Blessings on a new year!