Classroom Management Lessons Gleaned from the Movie The Ron Clark Story

Blog Ron Clark Movie

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The spring semester is in full swing and my ED 423 Classroom Management Course started yesterday. I began class with a movie…The Ron Clark Story. Yup, I sure did. Right or wrong…it is a great movie to teach lessons about classroom management. If you are an educator and you have never watched it, I highly recommend that you do.

Unfortunately, I am only able to show the students about 70 minutes of the 86 minute movie because my class time is 75 minutes. My teacher candidates are required to finish the rest of the movie on their own time. I stop the movie at the part where Ron unintentionally demonstrates gravity, and my students ALWAYS groan… “NO.” Those teacher candidates do not want it to stop. This is my guarantee that they will finish the movie on their own time. 🙂

As the teacher candidates watch the movie, they are instructed to take notes…take notes on what they see demonstrated as classroom management. NOT just discipline, but ALL classroom management ideas. I also hint at a few pointers that I believe are important and they may not catch while watching the movie.

Research shows that teachers leave the profession within the first three to five years of teaching, and one of the reasons they do leave is the lack of classroom management skills. Please don’t be that teacher.

Below are a few of the hints that I gave as we watched the movie together:

Dress Professionally: Ron Clark is ALWAYS dressed in a suit and tie while in the classroom…always. He may be wearing jeans or sweat pants on the weekend, or wearing his Robin Hood outfit while working his ‘second job’ as a waiter, but he is always dressed professionally while teaching!

Get to Know Your Students’ Names: Ron Clark visits his students and their families prior to the first day he is with his students. He calls his students by name…usually their first name AND their last name. We all love to be called by name, and he does a great job of demonstrating this.

Become Friends with the Cooks: Befriend the cooks and the custodians and the secretary and the nurse. They are key ingredients to school building success. How many times while I was teaching in the public schools, did I see my students thinking that the custodian was the principal. 🙂 These folks RULE the school.

Proximity: By making your teacher presence known can help change behavior. Ron is always walking close to Julio who sits backwards at his desk. Ron gently taps him on his shoulders and this signals Julio to turn around in a non-threatening way. It’s called a MBWA degree…management by walking around.

Use Humor to Defuse Tense Situations: Ron Clark has a great sense of humor in this movie. In one scene, two students are fighting and Ron breaks it up. One of the students gets in Ron’s face and says, “was I talking to you? You gonna hit me?” Ron replies with “no, but you did break rule number 2. You gonna hit me, SIR?” Then Ron tries to convince the student to go back to the classroom. When the student asks why, Ron states “because I would miss your glowing personality.” Humor CAN defuse intense situations. Just know your students and make sure to pay attention to what is appropriate and what isn’t.

Never Give Up On The Kids: You, dear teacher, may be the only hope that the kids have. Do NOT give up on them. Believe in them. Show them that you will not quite on them. Those kids would miss you. Turn it around for the kids. Give extra time for them…even if it is on a Saturday for extra teaching/studying time. Ron doesn’t leave like those students thought he would. He stayed with them to the end. No one wanted them but he did.

Hone Your Acting Skills: Ron Clark uses storytelling to get students’ attention. He uses a little exaggeration to get a point across. He challenges the students to listen by saying he will chug a chocolate milk every 15 seconds if they listen and NO ONE interrupts. He shows his ability to act when he acts as if he is going to puke after drinking that much chocolate milk. The students actually learn something too! 🙂 Ron has a lightbulb moment while correcting papers in his NY apartment. He was wishing the music next door would stop which gave him the idea to write the President’s Rap to help his students memorize the presidents. Ron performed it well and his students loved it.

Get Involved in the Students’ World: As Ron begins to earn the trust of his students, he is allowed into their playground world. The students teach him how to Double Dutch. Play with your students at recess time. Go to your students’ activities…their basketball games, their plays, their piano recitals! If they invite you…SHOW UP (a blog for another time).

Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff: One of Ron’s students is wearing his party hat sideways. We laugh when we see this scene, but in reality…does it matter? Who cares if the kid isn’t following what everyone else is doing. Go ahead, wear your hat sideways. Make a statement. If the behavior does NOT interfere with learning, it’s okay.

This is a partial list of those helpful hints given. There are many other lessons learned from the movie. Please watch it. I’m sure you will find some ideas that you haven’t applied yet to your current teaching. That’s okay. Just watch it. Make those decisions. Form your philosophy. And then go google the REAL Ron Clark and follow him on Twitter. Watch him Whip Nae Nae…in his suit and tie. Fun guy!! 😉 ~Wendy

Stay Calm & Lead On!
Profs Dr. C. & Dr. V.

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