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Does This ‘Viral’ Teacher and Academy Co-Founder Have Teaching Figured Out?

Does This ‘Viral’ Teacher and Academy Co-Founder Have Teaching Figured Out?

Ron Clark, educator and co-founder of South Atlanta Ron Clark Academy, is making national news once again after a video of him performing a viral dance challenge with his students has been viewed almost 3 million times.

Many have called the award-winning teacher’s practices “unusual,” as his academy is a Harry Potter-inspired middle school that despite the whimsical nature, also imposes a 55-rule code of conduct that makes Success Academy’s behavioral rules look basic. 

At the Ron Clark Academy, students are not only held accountable for adhering to strict rules of conduct such as making eye contact and using full sentences, they must also be “slide-certified” to use the building’s jumbo indoor slide. This kind of juxtaposition of business and play, according to Clark, is the key to guaranteeing his fifth through eighth graders success. 

In Clark’s most recent viral video, he is seen flawlessly keeping up with his students as he follows the dance routine to DLOW’s “Bet You Can’t Do It Like Me Challenge” (VIDEO BELOW).

According to Yahoo! Parenting, Clark’s students taught him the dance over break and filmed the 30-second viral clip after a 2-hour practice session at the school.

But Clark wanted to do more than show off his dance moves; he wanted to inspire his students by relating to them. 

“'School should be exciting to them...You’ve got to know who your kids are and show them that you care about their culture,’” Clark said to Yahoo! Parenting.

Educators don’t need to be good dancers to do this, though, Clark says.

"Clark says you don’t have to Whip or Nae Nae to get through to adolescents. You just need to find a way to relate. 'You may not be a dancer,' he told the Huffington Post. 'But you’ve got to find a way to reach the kids or else you’re going to lose them,’” said Yahoo!

Clark had enough success in his past to have people taking him seriously even when he’s goofing around. As a former National Teacher of the Year, Clark impressed the education community by turning around test scores in Harlem.

And in 2010, Clark’s first round of graduates from his academy already boasted some impressive accomplishments from their time in the school. 

According to AJC.com, Clark’s first round of graduates could “draw a world map from memory, showing every country and its capital,” “give public speeches with notes, sometimes without preparation and on occasion, in front of TV cameras,” and “learn every British monarch in order to take tests on England’s history religions, wars and economy before traveling there. They would repeat a similar regimen for every country they visited,” which was many.

AJC asserted in 2010 that Clark only received $15,000 for his work in the school, earning his income instead from speaking tours. It also asserted that some educators criticize Clark’s work as being “impractical” because of its costly nature; Clark spends $18,000 per student, more than double what many state’s public school systems spend.

Some educators worry that RCA’s students will be less engaged in their high school endeavors, causing RCA graduates to be distracted and not as successful as anticipated.

But while at RCA, at least, students are almost guaranteed to experience success.

"In addition to numerous awards and accolades, RCA's classes typically experience double percentile increases in performance across all subject areas,” boasts RCA’s website.

Educators: What do you think? Does Ron Clark have education figured out? Would you take pointers from the innovative educator? Take our poll below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

1/6/2016

Do you think Ron Clark has teaching figured out?

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