“Rife with heart-warming anecdotes and inspiring ideas . . . Educators and parents will find much to emulate in this passionate, motivating tool book.”
“Inspirational, easy-to-follow insights on how to grow smarter, healthier children and communities . . . this timely resource can make school a motivational and fun community.”
Practical, innovative, and powerful methods to enliven classrooms and ignite a passion for learning in each and every child. It is time to “GET ON THE DESK” and make every school in America the absolute best it can be.
I often say I am a schoolteacher with the heart of a parent. I’ve made it my mission to make a difference in the lives of all of our children. I have traveled throughout our country, visiting schools in all 50 states, seeking out remarkable teachers who inspire our children to greatness.
Sadly, I have also witnessed classrooms that seemed sapped of all energy, filled with students struggling to stay awake and teachers in desperate need of inspiration. These “Molasses Classes” broke my heart.
I had to do something! I decided to leave my classroom in East Harlem, New York, and devote my time to this audacious dream: to create a revolution in our country, starting from the ground up. The heart of this change would be a school, unlike any in the world. It would be full of passion, creativity, energy, and an unparalleled freedom to do whatever it took to lead every child to success. The parents and teachers of this school would forge a true partnership with the intent of providing the best learning environment possible.
I am proud to say that dream—the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, is now a reality. We welcome educators from all over the world to visit and learn from our methods and techniques so that they may take them back to their schools. I am still teaching, every day, and I feel honored to have hosted more than 10,000 educators in my classroom. This book is filled with the magic, the successes, the heartbreaks, the mistakes, and the triumphs that are the Ron Clark Academy. These are the 101 most successful strategies we have used to help uplift our children and enliven our classrooms. My hope is that you will find ideas here that will help you ignite a passion for learning in your children—and together we can get the molasses out of all our children’s classes.
Be different. Be bold. Join in.
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About the Author
Ron Clark is the New York Times bestselling author of The Essential 55, which has sold more than one million copies in twenty-five different languages. He has been named “American Teacher of the Year” by Disney and was Oprah Winfrey’s pick as her “Phenomenal Man.” He founded The Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia, which more than 25,000 educators from around the world have visited to learn about the extraordinary ways that teachers and parents of RCA have helped children achieve great success. Clark has been featured on the Today show and CNN, and his experiences have been turned into the uplifting film, The Ron Clark Story, starring Matthew Perry.
Table of Contents
Part I RCA's Core Principles and Values 1
1 Teach children to believe in themselves and don't destroy the dream. 3
2 Not every child deserves a cookie. 7
3 Define your expectations and then raise the bar; the more you expect, the better the results will be. 11
4 Uplift other adults who play a role in the lives of our children. 20
5 Listen. 25
6 Give all that you have to your children even though you will often receive nothing in return. 29
7 Get to know your students in nonacademic settings. 34
8 Be selfless with your contributions to the team. 39
9 Make it happen. Don't give excuses; find solutions! 43
10 Be excellent! 46
11 Create moments that will have a lasting impact on children's lives. 52
12 Set the tone for a love of learning. 58
13 Treat every child as if he or she were your own. 61
14 Push yourself to be innovative beyond your imagination. 63
15 Know the name of every teacher, student, parent, administrator, and board member. 68
16 Use music to excite, motivate, and inspire. 71
17 Know your students. 76
18 Don't let opportunities pass you by, even if the time, funding, and circumstances aren't completely right. 80
19 Make learning magical. 84
20 Teach children that the good you do in the world comes back to you. 91
21 Teach children to embrace their personalities and present themselves with confidence in all situations. 95
22 Live with no fear. 100
23 Love what your students love, whether it's iCarly, Twilight, or the NFL. 107
24 Create lasting traditions. 110
Part II The Role of the Parent in the Success of the Child 115
25 Be prepared for the long haul if you want your child to succeed. 117
26 Don't be a helicopter parent. You can't come to their rescue forever. 121
27 Realize the power of gratitude and appreciation. 127
28 Remind children of their blessings and stress the value of a strong work ethic. 131
29 Nip it in the bud; small issues can grow into big problems. 136
30 Don't get your kid a video game system unless you are ready to be a prison guard. 140
31 Show them how to study; don't expect it to come naturally. 143
32 Realize that even very good children will sometimes lie. 147
33 Be patient. 150
34 See the potential in every child. 153
35 Punctuate the power of words. 156
36 Don't be a Penny Parent. 157
Part III Creating the Right Climate and Culture 161
37 Welcome students and families to your school in style! Roll out the red carpet-literally! 163
38 Believe that every child can learn, regardless of ethnicity, learning disabilities, emotional or behavior problems, or the economic situation of the family. 168
39 Open your doors to the parents. 172
40 Dress the part; attire matters! 173
41 Make the most of every moment! There should be an urgency in education! 176
42 Can the intercom. 178
43 Please don't interrupt a teacher's lesson to deliver a note, ask a question, or disturb the class. 178
44 Avoid sitting down while students are in the room. 179
45 Do not use cell phones or computers while the students are in the room, unless the device is part of the lesson being taught. 180
46 Make homework for home, not school. 181
47 Make sure you do your homework, too! 182
48 Begin each class on fire! 183
49 Increase teacher quality instead of reducing class size. 184
50 Set an electric tone on Day One. 185
51 Don't constantly stress about test scores. We have to stop sending the message to our students that the purpose of learning is to take a test. 194
52 Open up your home to your students. 196
53 Stay connected; have parents on speed dial. 199
54 Give children a chance to respond and don't give up so quickly. 200
55 Realize that kids need to move! Bring education to life with kinesthetic learning. 204
56 Use chants to create a supportive, encouraging, exciting environment! 206
57 Get on the desk! ' 209
58 Resolve to find your own Red Button. 214
59 Celebrate the beauty of their ancestries. 215
60 Show them examples of excellence. 217
61 Set the bar high for parents, too! 218
62 Use an Amazing Race to bring learning to life! 219
63 Love your eighth graders. 222
64 Don't give children second chances on tests and projects. 225
65 Encourage children to cheer for one another. 227
66 Paint the walls with positive memories. (If their faces are on the walls, they are less likely to pee on them!) 231
67 Never read a speech. 233
68 Make eye contact with your classroom or audience. 237
69 Move around the room throughout the lesson and never remain in the same place. 238
70 Teach the students, not the board. 239
71 Exhibit the same energy you expect from your audience. 239
72 Smile. 240
73 Never allow students to begin a statement with "Umm," "Well," or "Me and." 241
74 Fake it to make it. 243
75 Use a djembe drum. Every classroom in the world needs one. 244
76 Don't put the blame on students unfairly. 246
77 Lift up your teachers. No, really, lift them up. 248
78 Have fun. 249
Part IV Reaching Out Beyond the Classroom 253
79 Teach parents the correct way to tutor their children. 255
80 Build strong bonds with parents. 257
81 Ask the hard questions-"What do you want this school to be?" 260
82 Join parents, teachers, and community members together to create "theme days" for the school. 264
83 Accept the fact that if kids like you all the time, then you're doing something wrong. 267
84 Recognize that the heart of the school is the teacher. Hire the best and never settle. 269
85 Always observe a teacher applicant teaching a lesson before offering him or her a job. 271
86 Teach children the history and symbolism of their home and school. 275
87 Remember that children are literal thinkers and, as adults, we really have to spell out what we mean. 277
88 Remember that the little things can make all the difference. 280
89 Provide lessons in life that will become lessons for life. 284
90 Uplift the students who have the furthest to go. 285
91 Allow teachers the freedom to make their rooms reflect their personalities-allow them to use color! 287
92 Let the students shine. 291
93 Leave the jealousy at the door. 294
94 Realize that you never truly know all that is going on in the life of a child. 296
95 Raise our children to be global citizens. 297
96 Recognize the big cost of big dreams. 301
97 Reach out to the community to build a powerful network. 305
98 Once you have donors, work hard to keep them! 307
99 Send fhank-you letters that are hand-drawn, colorful, and grammatically correct. 312
100 If you need advice, ask for money. If you need money, ask for advice. 313
101 Make your good-byes mean something. 314
What's Next? The New Dream 318
Ron Clark Academy Educator Training 323
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Simply turn on the news, listen to the radio, take a step into a classroom and it will be evident that America's education system is at the peak of a crisis; we stand on the brink of disaster. At the precipice, what better time for a book like this to inspire positive change in education. As a student, parent, and educator I have seen teachers in action from different angles and the term "molasses" is perfect to describe the majority of classroom situations I have observed. But educators don't sign up for the job with a goal of being an ineffective educator. They get stuck, some have given up hope in finding that technique or motivation to help get them back in gear.this book is it! I laughed, I cried, I was inspired, and above all else it was a call to action for me. Every parent, teacher, administrator, or person who cares about children and the future of America should read this book. Everyone should be exposed to what they are doing at The Ron Clark Academy. Their approach is effective with proven results! After reading this book I know for every birthday, christmas, and teachers appreciation anyone will be getting this book! Hopefully it will reach our government leaders and they will take notice to what Ron Clark is doing. If he had a hand in our countries education reform there would be no stopping America!
This book is an inspiration and a testament to how our education system should be. I just bought several books to send to parents that I know that are having a hard time getting their kids "UNSTUCK". The methods mentioned in this book are techniques that parents and teachers around the world can benefit from. My favorite tip is #31 "Show them how to study; don't expect it to come naturally". I have tutored many kids in my day and have seen first hand why this tip is so beneficial. I also adore the concept of teaching life lessons, manners, and respect in our education. Thank you so much for this life-changing tool.
I purchased Ron Clark's first book back in 2003 when I was still a wet-behind-the-ears educator, and, like so many others, I loved it for reminding us to model common sense and courtesy. Flashforward eight years, and I started reading Mr. Clark's newest book with expectations of learning some new motivational strategies as well as having a few laughs because of Mr. Clark's charming turn of a phrase. What quickly grabbed me, though, was the call for revolution, almost more manifesto than handbook at times (I'm telling y'all, if this book doesn't light your fire, then your wood is wet!). He speaks to us all -- teachers, parents, and the community -- about 101 ways we can make education extraordinary. It includes ample concrete examples of fearless teaching, fearless learning, and, therefore, fearless living. There are so many "Amen!" moments when I nodded my head in whole-hearted agreement (for example, "Not every child deserves a cookie"), and other moments that are "Aha!" in discovery (such as "Teach the parents the correct way to tutor their children"). What profoundly affected me, though, were the "Ah...man..." moments that convicted me of my own shortcomings as a teacher (and now as a parent). I had wet eyes as I read about Kenneth, Clark's former student/current colleague. I got chill bumps as he described "accidentlally" meeting Nelson Mandela. I felt such sadness as he also described the "big cost of big dreams." Although Clark and his staff have made so many personal sacrifices, that sadness is overcome by the awe his school creates for its students and community. Really, it is more of a ministry than just a school, an example of radical obedience to one's beliefs and stepping out on faith. The End of Molasses Classes is a must-have that all principals should plan to study and discuss with staff before school starts this fall. It is meatier than Clark's previous books: The others were a mild invitation to come down to the front at the end of service compared to Molasses, which is a big-tent revival that will change lives. To summarize how this book made me feel, I'm going to borrow a line from the book: "It's like hearing your favorite artist while you sit on the front row. It just reaches your core."
Any educator or parent that doesn't read this book is really missing a blessing. It makes you want to start back to school NOW...Once I started reading I couldn't stop!!!!
This is the best book yet from Ron Clark. It has 101 excelent ideas and suggestions for parents and teachers to keep students engaged and excited about the educational process. This is a must read for parents and students in Oklahoma as well as the rest of the country. I am reading it a second time, now, using my highlighter and pen. Chapter two is a favorite for me. Chapter 89 and 91 are required reading, too. Buy two copies and give one to your favorite teacher or a new teacher.
Ron Clark's narrative voice is lively and realistic! His words touch the heart. I howled with laughter, shed tears of joy and was immensely proud (and a bit jealous) of the atmosphere that the kids at the Ron Clark Academy have. All students should have this type of education and with a book like this, all students can. Every parent, teacher, principal, businessperson, adminstrator should READ THIS BOOK! It is a shining example of passion, high expectations and real results! Watch out for the kids from this school. They are ready!
A truly remarkable and inspirational piece on the balance between parenting and education. As a professional that has worked with kids, I definitely found this book useful in being able to get positive results from these kids. I loved the clear and concise examples provided in the book. These truly helped internalize the strategic approach to education and teaching kids.
Another great book about education. It’s important to be innovative in your teaching method and really care about your students.
I actually had the priviledge of going to the Ron Clark Academy today for training and I have to say...this man lives and breathes what he talks about in the book! If you are a teacher, this is an essential read!
This summer, I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Clark speak at the 2011 NC Teaching Fellow Senior Conference. At the conference, he gave out a select number of copies of this book to some fellows. (He is always willing to give to others to help teachers be better teachers). I was fortunate enough to get a copy. This book is a must have for teachers and parents. Mr. Clark is full of fresh and exciting ideas to engage students and instill in them a love of learning. He shows with his test scores that his somewhat non traditional methods work wonders with his kids. He doesn't take excuses and thinks that we should expect the best from our kids, which we should. Mr. Clark is an amazing teacher who can all learn something from. This book is great for teachers looking for new ideas, for parents struggling with helping their child in school, and even for new teachers looking for how to set up their classroom.
Yes, Ron Clark has written 2 good books before, but this one is in a league of it's own. This book had chapter after chapter of incredible ideas. Each idea was thoroughly explained and illustrated with real examples used in his classrooms. If everyone in education read this book, the education problem would get a lot smaller. Ron doesn't just talk abou high expectations, he brings you right into the classroom and shows you a level of teaching that leaves a person speechless. Amazing! Amazing! Amazing! I'd give this book 6 stars if I could. Every teacher, principal, superintendent, and political leader should read this book.
Ron Clark never let's me down. Hopeful, ebullient, and inspiring... A no-excuse, change education for the better approach, with motivating reminders and anecdotes at every corner. I have visited The Ron Clark Academy, and can personally vouch for the mindset of the students and the culture of the school that he so passionately espouses for on these pages. I would recommend ALL of his books, but especially this one, as it goes more into the teaching and personal TEACHER mindset than I felt Essential 55 or Excellent 11 do--and, therefore, had the greatest impact on me. What a book, what a school, what a man! (Also, I HIGHLY recommend getting yourself a desk copy of the hardback (for inspiration as it sits there, looking enthusiastic, and for reference), AND the audio download version. Hearing Ron read his books is like nothing else, and I am a little embarrassed to say that this frugal English teacher owns a hardback and digital audiobook copy of each of his three teaching books. It is WORTH every penny!) ;)
No excuses, read for solutions! Dry off that wet kindling and light your fire! The only reason why you would put this book down is because it IS on fire! Those who care TEACH! And those who care about teaching will read this book! It is a must-have manual for every educator that refuses to settle for average results and strives to keep raising the bar. Ron Clark and his academy dance the "obmil" on a daily basis. The bar keeps being raised and raised, never lowered. No matter what new challenges educators face from year to year, the Ron Clark Academy keeps inspiring all types of students to become passionate life-long learners. I worry that some schools and educators fear failure and under so many pressures to meet the needs of so many diverse learners, end up doing the limbo in their schools...but not at the Ron Clark Academy. If we set better goals, we will get better results. His honesty on how to achieve this is OH SO REFRESHING! Thanks for keeping it real (and real funny), Ron! Keep on dancing the obmil and inspiring others to do the same! Shout-out to NC Teaching Fellows - light your fire and go out and inspire!
I can remember reading Mr. Clark's first book, The Essential 55, for one of my college courses. From the moment I started reading it, I knew this phenomenal individual was going to mold my teaching style. I have been lucky to have visited the RCA many times and each time I am flooded with ideas that I want to incorporate in my own classroom and school. After a few weeks, all of my ideas seem to blur together, and I forget the key points to some of his strategies. This book helped me remember so many techniques and how to go about getting my students and parents motivated about education! This book is a wonderful back to school read for parents and educators. Upon finishing this book, you will feel empowered and ready to take on any obstacle! I laughed, cried, and reflected on my own teaching and my time spent at the RCA while reading this book. So many of his stories will uplift you and help you realize that we as teachers MUST change education! If we want our students to succeed, then we must step up to the plate and do our part to challenge, excite, and support these future all stars! I challenge everyone to not only read this book but to share it with parents and colleagues! If we each pour our hearts into our schools and dedicate ourselves to changing America's Educational System, there is no stopping us and our students! The sky is the limit!!!!! "May the force be with you!"
Mr. Clark's book is an absolute great tool for parents, teachers and others to use to help children be successful in today's learning environment. The book shares so many helpful hints and practical strategies that can be used to keep our children excited about learning and motivated to be their best! In addition, the book is inspiring and funny! I just could not put it down! I have two school-aged children and I am lookng forward to putting into practice these solutions!
This book had some good points in it and was a worthwhile read. It got a little bit too much too much on their perfect school after awhile, but I picked up some very good tips and if you can come away with that, to me it is a good endeavor.