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June 2017

How We Implemented The House System Inspired by The Ron Clark Academy at Our School

How We Implemented the House System Inspired by Ron Clark and why you should too. Check out these simple steps to make your class more amazing.

Welcome!

We are so excited to be rolling out the House System, inspired by The Ron Clark Academy, to our entire school! As we posted pictures on Instagram and videos of our students participating in House activities, we were asked by many of you to share how we implemented it at our school. You asked and we are answering!

How to roll out the House System inspired by Ron Clark. Check out these simple steps to add tons of fun to your class. You won't believe how easy it is!

Before we get started…

Before we go any further, we want to make sure that you are familiar with The Ron Clark Academy. If your aren’t, you have just hit THE JACKPOT! You will never be the same! We had the pleasure of going to their two day training in Georgia and it has COMPLETELY changed the teachers that we are today. If you want to read about our Top Takeaways from our visit, check out this blog post BY CLICKING HERE. Just in case you haven’t heard of The Ron Clark Academy or the House System, we are going to share a few links with you to direct you to the right place!

The Ron Clark Academy Home Page

See what we are talking about with this RCA Experience Video!

Link to download their App (If you download their app, you will get a ton of free tools, guides and resources!)

Overview of what The House System is

Now, Let’s Get Started! Welcome to OUR House!

Why you should implement the House System inspired by Ron Clark at your school. Our students love belonging to a house! Click here and learn more about the House System.

After hearing Hope King and Wade King speak about the House System, we just knew that we had to bring this back to our school! It was exactly what our school needed… a positive school culture that focused on lifting each other up! What school doesn’t need that, right?!

Now, where to start?

This is a huge task! How were we going to roll out the House System to a staff that had never even heard of it before? Because we went to the training in December, and half of the school year was already over, we decided that we would pilot it just in our grade level. This was a great decision because we were able to work out the kinks and ease the staff into the idea along the way.

We decided to stick with the names that The Ron Clark Academy uses for their houses… if it isn’t broke, why fix it, right?! The names are Reveur (dreamers), Altruismo (givers), Isibindi (courage), and Amistad (friendship). Our grade level started by taking our class lists and assigning houses in a random pattern down the list. We believe that assigning houses should be at random. One teacher in our grade level was also assigned a house at random to “lead.” We decided to have our students discover their house at a fun get together. Each student was given an envelope. We got together and everyone opened them at the same time and their houses were revealed inside. Students were then given a t-shirt with their matching house.

House Points

 

House Scoreboard and Points Freebie. Click here and learn how change the way your students behave! You won't believe how easy and effective using House Points is!

Houses earn points for positive behaviors. Each House is a team that works together to collect points. As a grade level, we decided on what behaviors should be rewarded. Check out the FREEBIE for the behaviors that we chose. These behaviors were just a guideline. Points could be given for any reason that the teacher felt was appropriate. Points were collected on a “scoreboard” in each teacher’s classroom. At the end of the week, we submitted how many points each House earned into a Google Sheet and the points were tallied. The points were revealed at our House Meetings.

House Meetings

Our grade level chose to hold House Meetings every Friday. We did these House Meetings the last 30 minutes of the day, and it was an event we all looked forward to attending. Our House Meetings were divided into 2 15 minute blocks of time. Each House met for the first 15 minutes by themselves. During this time, students got together and created a chant/cheer/dance that they would perform for the grade level. Teacher sat back and watched. WARNING: This is hard to do!!!!!! You want to jump in and offer suggestions and give them tips. RESIST! Why? We decided to to this because students gain ownership and learn how to work together this way! Trust us! It gets better with each meeting. By the end of the year, our students ROCKED teamwork and communicating with each other. They also gained so much pride for their House!

For the last 15 minute block of time, we all gathered in one classroom and celebrated and lifted each other up in a variety of ways! Check it out below!

Learn how to engage your students through music. Students love music. Click here and learn the simple steps to add music into your class. Plus grab our FREE music lyrics!!!

Music

We always started our House Meeting with songs and music! Students love music and singing, so why not use that to our advantage? We wrote songs that were to the instrumental versions of songs that our students knew and loved. We had four that we sang at every House Meeting.

Read all about using music students love with messages you love. You will change the whole culture of your class with just a little music. Plus grab our FREE music lyrics.

Each song that we sang had a different message, whether it be teamwork, positive school vibes, or just plain fun! Students were singing these songs all day long. We also found that they made for a great brain break!

Our Little Secret…

Let’s just get this straight right now. FACT. WE CANNOT SING OR DANCE… neither of us. This idea terrified us when we went to the training. Here’s where the beauty of taking a song the kids already know comes into play. All you have to do is write new lyrics, go onto YouTube and find the instrumental version, and then have your students sing the song with your new lyrics. Type those lyrics up, put them on a projector and watch the magic happen!

Let us help you use song and dance in your classroom. Click here and read the simple steps that require no work on your part! Plus grab our FREE music lyrics.
Click here and read why music should be part of your daily routine and grab our FREEBIES.

Part of Your Routine

The key is to have students sing these songs multiple times throughout the day so that when it comes to the House Meetings, they’ve got them down!  Students usually only needed to practice each song for  few days until they had them memorized. We sang them in line walking down the hallways, in between lessons, as a reward at the end of the day, as they were packing up. etc… Break up your day and sing about loving school!

We know what you’re thinking…

Right now, you may be thinking, “Wow, I would love to do this, but do I really have to write a song?” NO! We have got you covered! Here are four songs that you can use in your class starting tomorrow… or better yet, TODAY! We have done the work, so ENJOY!
Calling all teacher who want to add music to their classrooms but don't know where to start!!!! We have just the thing for you....lyrics to 4 songs FREE just for you! Check it out!

Here are videos of the songs so you can get some ideas of what they look like!


(We didn’t get the “Juju on that Beat” song in a stand alone video, but if you watch our assembly performance below, you can see that one too! )

Want to add music to your class but you don't want to write the songs? We've done the work for you. We've taken popular songs and tweaked them to work in the class. Grab them by clicking here.

Rewards

The other way that we lifted each other up in our House Meetings were through rewards, or maybe a better word would be recognition. In each House Meeting, we awarded one students from each House with a certificate. We gave a little speech, such as, “This young lady is getting an award today because she went above and beyond on her book report this week.” The reason can be for ANY positive behavior. The student came up and then earned the opportunity to spin the wheel (that we purchased on Amazon) for bonus points for their House. ALL students cheered EVERY student on!

Read about student recognition at House Meetings and how this will change your classroom culture. You won't believe how easy House Meetings are to implement. Click here and find out how.

Want these certificates for FREE? Click below!

Click here and grab our House Certificates Freebies and read about how to implement the House System inspired by Ron Clark.

The Results:

Read about how the House System changed our school and how you can experience the same thing with a few simple steps.

At the end of the year, we unveiled what we were doing to the rest of our staff. Most of them already knew about it because they had seen the effects. The school was buzzing with excitement! Our grade level held an assembly where we performed our House Meeting so that everyone could see what it was all about. The students sang, cheered, gave awards, and smiled. We had students explain what a House was in their own words. Here is what they said:

“A House, to me, is a group of students that earn points for positive behaviors.” -Amistad

“A House, to me, is a way to have fun and be silly.” -Isibindi

“A House, to me, is a way to connect with students that are in my grade, but not in my class.” -Reveur

“A House, to me, is a group of students who cheer me on and make me feel special.” -Altruismo

AMAZING, RIGHT????!!!!!

We also asked them why they liked the House System. Here’s what they had to say:

“I like being in a House because we get to make up cheers, sing and even scream and yell!” -Reveur

“I like being in a House because it makes school a fun place to be.” -Altruismo

“I like being in a House because we get to make up songs, sing and dance.” -Isibindi

“I like being in a House because we get to see friends we don’t normally get to see very often.” -Amistad

We think it is safe to say that they enjoyed the House System! The students and teachers were PUMPED and ready to dive in to implementing the House System the following year!

CHECK OUT OUR ASSEMBLY HERE!

What We Saw that We Never Saw Before…

Before we wrap up this blog post, we have to tell you what we saw in our classrooms that we had NEVER seen before. We have both been teaching fourth grade for quite some time now. We had always thought that our classroom had a positive environment. Here’s what we discovered. Our classrooms had always had a positive environment that was dependent upon US. We were the ones that “made” students behave. We were the ones that told students to use kind words. After using the House System, the shift was that the STUDENTS were the ones in charge now. Scary for a teacher, right? Not really. It is amazing. Students were now cheering each other on without the push or “the look” from the teacher. Students were now using kind words on their own. The House System is STUDENT led. Talk about a powerful tool!

Read how to implement the House System inspired by Ron Clark and experience the joy students have by creating a postive school culture. It is truly life changing.Click here and learn how you can do the same for your school.

You might be asking, “What did the House get for having the most points at the end of the year?” Well, we don’t have an answer for you! We did not give a reward! You heard that right! We did NOT give an award! They never even asked! Not one student (out of 101) ever asked what they got for earning points. The positive experience, the feel good moments and the pride of having your House on top was enough.

Is your teacher heart happy? Ours is.

And our students’ hearts are happy too!

5 Ways to be That “Favorite Teacher” Every Child Begs to Have

Every time we end a school year, we always reflect upon what went well throughout the year and where we need to improve. Between the two of us, we have 26 years of experience teaching fourth grade. That’s a lot of reflection time! As the school year comes to an end, we often have students tell us that we are their “favorite teacher.” Don’t get us wrong… we know that this is a phrase that most students say to every teacher they have. In no way are we trying to say that we think that we are every student’s favorite teacher. We wish, right?! What we are saying is that we do have multiple students coming back to us each year after they leave our school and they still tell us that fourth grade was one of their absolute favorite years. So why is that? This is the question that we found ourselves reflecting upon at the end of this school year.

So What Does It Take To Make A Teacher “The Favorite?”

Here is our “Top 5 List!”  Are ya ready? We will be working our way backwards to the number one way to be that “favorite teacher.”

#5: Be a Teacher with Clear Expectations

#5: Be a Teacher With Clear Expectations

We all know that children need clear expectations. It is not a new idea. In order for students to learn they have to feel safe. When students know what is going to happen on a daily basis and what behaviors are acceptable, they feel safe and are ready to learn. To us, clear expectations means three things: routines, behavior expectations, and work expectations.

Routines are a part of having clear expectations. Routines are crucial to a child enjoying your classroom. Some examples of routines are: posting the daily schedule, knowing how to enter or exit the room, attendance and lunch count procedures, etc… This is a lot for a teacher to remember! We can’t tell you how many times we forgot to do something and the class fell apart. Here’s the secret we have learned over the years. Are ya ready? Here it is: YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL! Guess what? There are kids in your class. One more secret… kids love to help! We have found that the easiest way to make sure that your routines happen is to assign jobs for your students to do! How many times have you planned for a sub and found yourself explaining every little detail so that the day can operate smoothly. If you put your students in charge of routines, all you have to write in the sub plans are: “The students run the day. Enjoy!” Sounds a little crazy, right? Nope. We do it. We promise. It works. Your students will thank you.

Clear expectations means that you have set up clear behavior expectations. Students should know what behaviors are acceptable. They will have more time to enjoy their learning in your room if the class knows how to behave. In our classrooms, we only have one rule. RESPECT. This one rule covers everything. In the beginning of the year, we hold frequent classroom meetings to discuss what respect looks like. If there is a frequent problem, hold another classroom meeting and let the students (not you) discuss the behavior and come up with a solution. Put it in their hands! Peer pressure is a wonderful thing! We want you to think about 5 behavior problems you have had this year. Seriously! Write them down or say them out loud! No, but really! Okay, can each one be corrected by asking the child if it was respectful? It’s fool-proof. Keep it simple.

Work habits are another important part of having clear expectations. Students will try to get away with doing as little work as possible! We all know that! Do you want to be that teacher that they know they can trick, or do you want them to respect you? If a child turns something in that doesn’t match your expectations, give it back! If you hold your students accountable for doing their work with excellence (Did you catch that? WITH EXCELLENCE) your students will take pride in their work and learning. There is a difference between just doing an assignment to get it done and turned in  versus spending time on an assignment and being proud of the outcome. Your students will thank you (over time) and bump you up their list to that coveted “favorite teacher” title.

#4: Be a Teacher who Teaches

#4: Be a Teacher Who Teaches

Okay, here’s one that we are a firm believer in. How many of us know of teachers who like to look like their students are busy learning, but really they’re just trying to keep those kids busy and quiet with something… anything until that final, glorious bell rings at the end of the day. Are you guilty of this? Probably not because the fact that you are reading this shows how dedicated you are to your calling! There are teachers that “teach” and teachers that REALLY TEACH! At the end of the year, when students look back at their year with you, what do you want them to say? We know that we want our students to say: “Wow, I never thought I could do everything I did this year!” We want them to be pumped about the academic language that they are now using and the amount of books that they have read. When students grow and reach that “unobtainable” goal, they will have YOU, their “favorite teacher,” to thank for guiding them!

#3: Be a Positive and Happy Teacher

#3: Be a Positive and Happy Teacher

Here’s a biggie! A lot of times, we focus on the way our classroom looks or the lessons that we teach, but how often do we focus on ourselves? YOU are the most important part of your classroom! YOU are what matters to your students! YOU! How much do you smile throughout your day? Do you sprinkle little jokes and bits of humor throughout your day? This is a much needed break for you and your students! Keep it fun! Students need to see the happy side of you! When you’re happy, your students are happy! When you’re positive, they’re positive! We have all seen teachers that grumble about how terrible their class is or how unmotivated or lazy their students are. Don’t be that teacher! Be positive! Be happy! Take care of yourself. Do things that make you happy when you’re not at work so that you can bring the happy and positive teacher your students need and desire to your classroom every day.

#2: Be a Teacher Who Cares

#2: Be a Caring Teacher

Student relationships are EVERYTHING! Take the time to get to know each of your students. We love conferencing with our students about their learning. Conferencing can be a huge and overwhelming idea that turns most teachers off. They might say, “I don’t have time for that,” or “I talk to my students all day long.” Here’s our question to you, “What about that child who doesn’t feel comfortable in whole class discussions, or for that matter, even small group discussions? Is that voice ever heard?” We were both one of those students who would NEVER share anything personal in a group setting. Set up one-on-one conferencing with your students. Here’s how we accomplish this “daunting” task. We conference with every child one-on-one every two weeks. During our 30 min independent reading/ reader’s workshop time, we conference with 3 students, for 10 minutes each.  We have a class size of 30 students, so at the end of two weeks, we have conferenced with each one. We start each conference with a quick little open conversation and then go into our academics. You will be amazed at how much you will learn during these quick little conferences. You will get to know them, and they will get to know you and how much you care about them!

#1: Be a Teacher Who Gives Them What They Want!

#1: Be a Teacher Who Gives Them What They Want!

Here’s the million dollar answer for being that “Favorite Teacher!” Drum roll, please…. Are you ready? Cue the black drape being pulled from the answer! BAM! GIVE YOUR STUDENTS WHAT THEY WANT! Your students want FUN! They want a fun teacher, they want learning to be fun and they want to do fun activities where they barely know they’re learning! The Rigorous Owl’s saying is, “If you’re bored, they’re bored.” Stop the boredom! If you dread coming to work every day or if you’ve done the same thing year after year, change it up! Try something new! Transform your room for the day! Teach outside! Dress up! Do something you never thought you would do! Sounds like a lot of work, right? Guess what? It is! BUT, it’s also fun! Get your grade level on board with you to lessen the work load! We worked side by side doing our own thing for the first three years of teaching and then slowly started doing classroom events together. After nine years of operating this way, we would both never go back. We are constantly looking for new things to try and new ways to bring content to life for our students. When we work together, it is half the work. Totally worth it. Let them experience learning first hand. Let them get excited! If you are learning about Native Americans, why not have them dress up like Native Americans for the day? Let other students see how much fun your students are having. You will probably get a few eye rolls from other teachers, but slowly, maybe they’ll ask what you’re doing and want to get in on the fun too. Being a child’s “favorite teacher” is contagious!

SO NOW WHAT?

Now that you’ve read about the five ways to be that “favorite teacher,” we want to help get you started! We love spoiling our followers and showering them with freebies and tips! You are a superstar! Our goal is to inspire you and send you off into your classroom with the tools you need to be successful. We have prepared one helpful freebie or link for each of these five ways to be that “favorite teacher!” Enjoy!

#5: Be a Teacher with Clear Expectations

Download these two FREEBIES! Just click on the images below! Enjoy!

#4: Be a Teacher Who Teaches

Check out how we plan our year and make sure that we cover all of our standards every year! We will be posting many more posts just like this one in the 2017-2018 school year. Be sure to follow us to be notified! Click here to see how we plan for the year!

#3: Be a Happy and Positive Teacher

I’m sure you are not the only one who could use a reminder once in a while about being a positive and happy teacher. We need constant reminders! We decided to post these in our staff lounge and workroom! You and your staff will enjoy this FREEBIE! Click on the image below!

#2: Be a Teacher Who Cares

Download this colorful reminder to post by your desk! Click on the image below!

 

#1: Give Them What They Want!

See for yourself what a classroom event looks like! We do many!

Click here to check out our Mystery/ Detective Classroom Event

Click here to see our POETRY SMACKDOWN Classroom Event

Click here to see our Back to School Boot Camp Classroom Event!

Click here to see our Market Day Classroom Event!

Need some resources to get you started?

We’ve got you covered! Click any of the pictures below! We chose some that would help you out with the 5 Ways to be That “Favorite Teacher!”

50 No Prep Classroom Reward Coupons Motivational Quotes Coloring Pages Classroom Jobs Career-Themed (Editable)

Classroom Awards        Back to School Boot Camp Brag Tags and MORE!

Market Day Event Bundle  Detective and Mystery Activities, Decor, and MORE!  Poetry SMACKDOWN Event

Vocabulary Interactive Notebook Common Core Standards YEAR LONG Bundle  5th Grade Grammar and Language Interactive Notebook  4th Grade Grammar and Language Interactive Notebook