January 30, 2020 by HCDE-Texas
His two-hour presentation and question-and-answer session called “Move Your Bus” was hosted by Harris County Department of Education’s Teaching and Learning Center. Many of the 450 faithful followers dreamt of seeing Clark for years and gave up their Saturday for the event held in west Houston.
Third grade teacher Kristina Ponce came with her three friends from Houston ISD’s Berry Elementary to get energized inspired by his stories. Ponce clutched her autographed copy of Clark’s bestseller and quoted a phrase inside.
“Not everybody gets the cookie,” Ponce said. “Just showing up doesn’t get you an award. If everyone gets the reward, what’s the point of working toward it. You have to earn it.”
Clark, a two-time, New York Times bestselling author, friend to Oprah and former Disney American Teacher of the Year told stories about teaching in rural Aurora, North Carolina and New York City’s Harlem.
He challenged educators to challenge their students.
“If you tell kids to ‘suck it up’ but it’s with love and coming from a good place, they will reach high standards, and then you’ll have great results,” Clark said.
The North Carolina native spoke of a grandmother who raised him with rules and expectations like showing respect, shaking hands, and making eye contact.
“Every kid wants structure, and they want to know you are in charge and that you have discipline,” he said.
Clark runs a small, nonprofit school called Ron Clark Academy which has experienced great success. Many educators travel to the school to study and emulate the innovative practices.
Teacher Ponce said she holds her students at a high standard for behavior and academic performance and as she highlights the importance of teaching manners in addition to curriculum. She hopes to visit Clark’s school one day to garner new ideas.
To bring excitement into the classroom, Clark promotes music, movement and creative thinking processes. One of his activity examples includes allowing students to blow up balloons and solving a math challenge problem on the balloon. Students successfully answering the problem with a marker get to pop the balloon.
Furr High School Assistant Principal Brian Roberson volunteered as an ambassador at the event and helped prepare for the big crowd and the big day. His takeaway for the day was to spread creativity.
“Think outside the box,” he said. “We have set curriculum, but the way you deliver that curriculum can be unique. To be the most creative educator you can be can transform not only the classroom, but the community as a whole.”
For more continuing education events sponsored through the Teaching and Learning Center at HCDE or for customized trainings at your school or district, go to www.hcde-texas/workshop-registration or call 713-696-1315.