Impact of RCA: The visit and my classroom changes - Queen of the First Grade Jungle

Impact of RCA: The visit and my classroom changes

A few weeks ago Teacher Bloggers took over Atlanta and the Ron Clark Academy.  I am sure you heard.  My friends in I are well-versed in all things social media (minus Twitter- that train will never leave the station for this gal). 

I am probably the last of the ones that was blessed to go to the Ron Clark Academy to blog about my experience.  That's how I roll.

In all seriousness I really did plan this delinquency out. I wanted to be able to talk about the real impact the trip had on my instruction and my classroom.  What better way to do that than really show you through pictures. 

Part 1:  The Visit

Seriously, have y'all read Kim Bearden's book Crash Course?  I was able to snag a couple last summer and oh my goodness-- I fell in love with Kim before I met her!  The compassion and drive that she has is UNREAL.  But just wait!  When I actually saw Kim in action with students and saw pictures of the magical experiences that she creates, you just want to find your own desk at RCA. 

That brings me to the kids, oh my goodness the kids.  They are true rock stars.  I kid you not, I have never seen anything as amazing as the RCA students. These fifth through eighth graders are TRULY incredible.  Their confidence, passion, excitement, respect, and politeness is unparalleled. 

I know I am pregnant and all and my hormones are all kinds of crazy, BUT I really don't think that is why I was on the verge of tears the whole day.  THE WHOLE DAY.  Here's what I think it is.... We all got in to this crazy field of education because we believe in kids and their futures.  To see these young people who are held to the highest of high standards and absolutely flourishing, it warms your heart.  It makes you remember it's possible. 

And then there's Mr. Ron Clark himself. 

Holy Cow. There is no way to describe Ron's energy.  I have seen clips of him before, but there is nothing like seeing him in person.  Dancing on tables, talking with his hands, getting emotional about his kids....he is an open book!

The most important thing that I learned from Ron Clark was that I didn't have to make my classroom look like RCA.  Y'all I can't sing well (don't even try and get me to rap- HA) and I haven't danced a whole lot since college. BUT I can mimic that energy in a way that works for me and my students. 

The picture below is of us in Hope King's room.  It is UNREAL.  So sad I didn't snag a pic with Hope at the school though!

Part 2:  How my classroom is changing.

There are three major areas I am focusing on in my room as a result of RCA are....

1. My students' ability to communicate

One of the coolest parts about RCA is being able to speak face to face with the students.  The kids were actually able to make ME (the grown-up) feel comfortable.  The were so confident and engaging, that you couldn't help but join in with their excitement.

I have always had my kids sit in cooperative learning groups (as the result of Kagan training years ago), but I have REALLY picked up using those groups to communicate among the students.  We are working on looking each other in the eye, disagreeing in a kind way, and speaking with confidence.  

2. Making Magical Moments

I like BIG moments.  I always have. But we all get tired.  Sometimes it is easier just to do the nuts and bolts.  Kim Bearden and Ron Clark reminded me how essential those times are.  Kids will remember the BIG moments- those big moments are what impact them forever!

Here are some examples of a few things I have done since the visit:

Pictures of my kids for the hallway with their books that they reviewed.

Blue ribbon cookies to celebrate their AMAZING reviews. 

Class mission:  Find out everyone's height and line up from shortest to tallest.

*This was a blast!

Flying Paper Airplanes to practice measuring in feet and yards.  ***The little guy standing lead the entire class in a lesson on how to make the paper airplanes.  He ROCKED it. 

Here we are flying our paper airplanes.

Class book reports dressed as our animal characters (they were precious)

And I have a few more ideas up my sleeves for later on this year SO stay tuned!

3. My role (my energy and my expectations).

I know many of you have taught while pregnant.  And if not, let me just tell y'all, IT.IS. HARD.  I am a self proclaimed caffeine addict.  To cut *Almost* all of my caffeine and keep my energy up while teaching at 6 months pregnant, phew, it can be tough!  After watching all the the amazing teachers at RCA, I realized that my excuses are null and void.  Those teachers regularly have 12-14 hour days....and they keep on smiling and dancing through them.  My kids have ONE shot at 2nd grade, and I am the deciding factor in how they are going to remember this year.  

I don't have any pictures of my teaching, because well, I am teaching, but I have noticed a huge spike in my energy and performance (because let's be honest we are actors) while I teach.  I am moving, observing, and holding their attention way better than before. 

I have also been utilizing my group time much more efficiently. I am challenging them.  I am holding them accountable. 

As a result of going to the Ron Clark Academy, I am rejuvenated and ready to take on the rest of this year and those to come.  I am a better teacher because of this opportunity.

If you are interested in having this opportunity, please, please, please- do yourself a favor and check out the links below:

your photo name


  1. Love how you took what you learned/saw and put it to use!!! What's better than that!!!! Those children are very lucky to have you as their teacher!!!

  2. Looks amazing! There is nothing like seeing new things that allow you to return to your classroom motivated and excited about teaching.

    The Math Maniac

  3. I'm taking a break from pinning all of these ideas to comment and say thank you! I'm a longtime fan of Ron Clark and WILL make it a priority to visit RCA. In the meantime, I'm going to go reread Crash Course! Thank you so much for sharing - hang in there! Jen

  4. I just put "Crash Course" on my book list to read. I loved your quote, "My kids have ONE shot at 2nd grade, and I am the deciding factor in how they are going to remember this year." What a great thing for us all to remember no matter what grade we teach!

    Elizabeth L.
    The First Grade Jungle Room

  5. I just ordered both Ron's and Kim's books this weekend. I have been wanting to read them for awhile now, but seeing everyone's blogs posts/Instragram pics pushed me to finally purchase the books. I am now dying to plan a trip of my own!

    Thanks for sharing how this is playing out in your classroom - it sounds incredible! :o)


  6. Love love love!!! Look at you with all of those amazing lessons!


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