The energy was unlike anything I've ever experienced.
The students were the most respectful children I have ever met.
The teachers' passion was contagious.
I want to go back.
Not only did I get to learn from some of the best, but I was able to share this experience with some of my dear blogging friends. We shared laughs, ideas about what we had learned, and I know I walked away with strong friendships from this experience.
That first morning, we didn't really know what to expect. When we walked into the academy, we were greeted by kind students, loud music, trampoline jumping, and dancing. (lots of dancing- I'm in heaven any time I can shake it.) My friend Stephanie, from Falling into First, even got to go on the trampoline! The energy was out. of. this. world. It was interesting to me because I start my day with calm music, where the students enter silently. This was different for me, but was thinking, "Wow! This could be really fun!"
Kim Bearden and Ron Clark are simply genius.
Have you ever gone to a PD where you are so engaged that you can't take your eyes off the speaker, can't take notes fast enough, and are in awe of what you are hearing? Well, that's exactly how I felt about both of these individuals. I seriously couldn't write things down fast enough. Their stories were inspiring. Their passion for education, their students, and their mission was beyond admirable. I'm forever grateful for their encouragement and support of education.
The environment of the Ron Clark Academy blew me away as well. (Let's get real... what didn't blow me away here?) They have done an incredible job making the building so welcoming, engaging, and putting a personal touch on it with student pictures. The pictures of the staff and students were probably my favorite part of the hallways. I loved seeing pictures of them on their trips, events, or inspirational quotes that they created.
Y'all (no, I'm not southern)... I was slide certified.
I'm not gonna lie... I was a little scared of this slide because I get really claustrophobic.
Well, I FLEW down this slide, and was greeted by dancing students and thumping music.
The best part: what this slide represents...
When Ron Clark explained the significance of this slide, I got goose bumps, and like you, could relate so much to his analogy. The slide represents our lives. It winds around and around, just like our own journey. We could take the stairs, the straight and narrow path. But the truth is, that's not what life is like. If you all know me well, you know my life over the last year has been nothing short of twists and turns, ups, and downs. However, those bumps and turns have made me a stronger person, stronger than I've ever been before. So, with courage, I went down that slide and did it. The significance was huge for me. I really hope all of you can go to the Ron Clark Academy to do this!!
Hope introduced us to Mr. Clark and then he signed our books. When I got to him, he asked me what my blog was called. I told him, "The Balanced Teacher." He looked at me and said, "I am still trying to find balance. Something we all need." I told him how this little blog of mine was a work in progress and that I simply want to inspire people to take time for them. He looked me in the eyes and just smiled. This is a moment I'll never forget.
These girls. I love each of them. If you're not following them, go do it now!
I have only been back for a week and I can already tell a HUGE difference in my teaching. I am in my 11th year and this by far was the greatest experience of my teaching career. I came back to Chicago energized, alive, and even more passionate about my job. Not to mention, I have started dancing on my guided reading table. (Just sayin'...) I have had so many parents come to me and tell me about how their children came home and told them about my trip. One parent even told me how their daughter told them the analogy of the slide. I was so incredibly happy to hear this! I have been reading the Essential 55 aloud to my students and they love it!
I thought to myself, "Crystal, this passion and energy was always there, why did it take this trip to rejuvenate that?"
The answer is simple: I got tired. I got overwhelmed. Life happened.
If you're still reading, I challenge you to tap into that energy. As Wade King said, "What's your why?"
Find your why, friends.
Mine was easy to figure out: my kids need me. They need me to be energetic and alive while teaching them. So, I put my tiredness and issues aside. I walked into my room on Monday of this week and have been teaching like my hair is on fire for the last week. It. Feels. GOOD. I challenge you to try it. Turn the music up, dance on your tables, let them celebrate one another, let them have FUN while learning. It is possible, but it's up to YOU.
Now, because I was so inspired, I want to give you the opportunity to win something. I'm going to be sending two lucky winners a copy of Ron Clark's books. Enter to win either, "The Essential 55," or "Move Your Bus." Please share this out with your friends! Good luck, everyone!
a Rafflecopter giveaway a Rafflecopter giveaway