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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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! )
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!
Want these certificates for FREE? Click below!
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
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!
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.
My school is super tiny. At the academy, do they have their teams in multiage teams, or is it just single grades?
At the Ron Clark Academy, they are multiaged(5th-8th grade). The size of your school doesn’t matter, it is about culture and fun!
Hi…how do I get the lyrics to the songs you have above? I have signed up with my email but I do not find where to find the lyrics. Thank you
They are under “Freebies” here at our blog
Do all grades participate now or 3-5? Curious about the k-1 students.
Yes, we are rolling out the House System for the entire school… grades TK-5!
So, is each grade level a house, or there are houses within each grade level?
There are houses within each grade level.
Hi! I am wondering who you used for your shirts! We are implementing the House System in the fall and that seems to be the final step 🙂
Do they wear their t-shirts everyday so that you can keep track of which house each student is in? What do you do if they do not wear their t-shirt?
Hello, Jenny! No, they do not need to wear their shirts every day. We actually like it better not knowing which house they are in because we feel like the points are distributed more fairly that way. We simply tell them to add a point to their house or we just ask them when they earn a point. We have our students wear their shirts every Friday for our House Meetings. Hope this helps!
That makes sense! Could you tell me how points are tracked daily/weekly between rewards? Who keeps up with them and how? Thanks for your response. I’m looking forward to getting this started.
Hello, Jenny! When we did this in just our grade level (3 classes), we just created a Google Doc and entered the points for each house from each class once a week. Now that we are doing this school wide (3-4 classes per grade level), we are having the grade levels submit their points to the grade level lead and my Student Council kids will come around and collect each grade level’s points once a week. I will then tally them and announce the House rankings. Each class collects the House Points in their room. I will add a FREEBIE that I think you will like to our Growing Resource Library. The FREEBIE is a chart that you can put in a frame. You can use it as a dry erase board and just use a dry erase marker to collect your points. Hope that helps! If you have any more questions, just ask! We are so excited you are trying it out! It is seriously the BEST!
Thanks so much for all your help.
I am wondering how you are giving student points. Is it a token or paper. You mentioned that they add them up–so I was wondering exactly what that means and how? Thanks!
We use tally marks in our classrooms and then teachers email the points at the end of the week to the person in charge of keeping the grand total. There are many ways to do this though. This is what works for us
Thank you SO much for sharing this information! I would LOVE to go to the Ron Clark academy to visit, but I’m going to do all that I can NOW! I teach 8th grade science, and I’m going to try to implement the house system with my students this year.
One of my specific focuses for this year is building class (period) unity. For this year, do you think that I could have a different house for each of my 6 class periods? Or do you feel that it is essential to have the 4 houses dispersed throughout the grade across classes?
I can’t WAIT to try this! I hope I can do it justice! 🙂 Thank you again!
We have only seen it spread across, so that is what we would recommend! Good luck and have fun!
Hello, I am excited to have the students work on their House Song.
We will have friendship-love/kindness/ good behavior. Creativity and Energy.
We need more peace and love .
We are looking to move schoolwide next year with this idea. We are a TK-6th grade school with about 430 kiddos. I only have about 17 teachers. Are there suggestions/recommendations as to how “big” each house should be and how many team members (staff) should be on each team? This logistical piece really has me stumped. Thanks for any guidance!
We would suggest just evening out the Houses… We just took each class list and chose a random pattern. Blue, green, red, black, blue, green, red… Then we make a list of the staff and did the same. Don’t forget secretaries, playground help, cafeteria workers, janitors, etc… Everyone is part of the team! It’s the best ever!
What a great idea! How did you get funding for the shirts? Did you get a company to donate, raise money, or ask parents to pay for them? This is something I would love to do at my campus, but not sure how we would get the shirts.
Hello! The first year that we implemented the House System, we only did it with our grade level. We simply asked the parents for $7 to cover the cost. The second year, we asked our administrator to provide them for the entire school, so she wrote it into our budget.
I would love to start this in the fall with 4th grade. Since we have three classes do we then only form 3 HOUSES?
Yeah! We love hearing you are ready to try the House System! As a 4th grade, we only have 3 classes also, but still decided to use the 4 Houses. We asked our counselor to be the lead for the 4th House. Just to clarify, each class isn’t a House. You divide each class into the Houses so that it’s not “Mrs. ___’s class” v. another class. You want the family vibe going on and to encourage positive behaviors in all students across your grade level. Hopefully this helps! If you have any more questions, feel free to ask!
Where did you all get the t-shirts from???
We designed the shirts and gave it to a guy that we get our school spirit shirts through and he printed them!
I absolutely love this idea! I am in charge of researching the house system and looking into it for our school. Could you share some more information with me.
Sure! What would you like to know?
I would like to read about your experience this year, rolling it out to all grade levels. We are wanting to start, but not sure where to start. We don’t have a lunch time we can share for House Meetings, so I’m lost on how to have a house meeting at our school in a space large enough to practice the songs and such. How did assemblies go? Did all the teachers keep up with points? What do you plan to do differently? I want to know the ins and outs of this program in elementary school not just 1 grade level. Thank you!
I plan on doing a follow up blog post this summer. Here are some answers to your questions…
1) Our entire school reserves the half hour before dismissal on Fridays to House Meetings. Each grade level hosts their own meetings. We do have one school-wide House Rally 15 min before the start of school on Friday mornings. We all agree to make this a priority.
2) Assemblies, at our school, are not House related.
3) Yes, all teacher kept up with points. The grade level lead collected the points for their grade level every Thurs and submitted them to us to tally. Rankings were communicated to the school during the House Rallies on Friday mornings.
4) We plan on hosting more school wide events and lunches next year. Increasing the amount of activities.
Hope this helps!!!!!!!!
I signed up for your email and am receiving them, but never got an email with the freebies password. I would love the song lyrics!
The password is in the first email
We are very interested in trying this but I have some questions – 1) Do you feel it’s necessary to send some teachers to the RCA to implement this? 2) I am in a school that is grades 5-8 and we’d like to do this with grade 5. However, we have 14 classes with 30 students each. Would you still recommend 4 teams or a team per teacher?
1) I would always recommend a visit! It is life-changing! I definitely think it would help with the vision.
2) 4 Houses… just divide up into 1/4
3) The wheel is at RCA… The wheel in my room has bonus house points that they spin for if they receive the award for the week
Also, what is on your wheel? Can you tell me what all the categories are for?
Hi there! Does your school counselor have a role in your house system? We are going to implement a house system at my site next school year and I am looking for ways as a school counselor I can help and be a part.
Yes, she does! Our grade level only has 3 classes, so she is in charge of the 4th! She also helps out with our weekly House Rally.
Hello, this idea sounds great! Just for clarification if wanting to implement school wide would the houses be split per grade level? Or would the house have multi grade levels in the house?
Thanks! We love it! The House would have multi grade levels in the House. 1/4 of each grade in each House.
What are some specific examples that you would give points for?
Hello! We give points for any positive behavior. It could be an act of kindness, kind words, proficient tests, a display of our essential behavior of the week, or anything that deserves recognition. Hope this helps!
Therigorousowl, thanks so much for the post.Much thanks again. Really Cool.
Hi! We are implementing a PBIS this year, how would you suggest connecting the house system? I am at a middle school with about 700 students!
We are a PBIS school with about 600 students. The House System is PBIS! Rewarding positive behaviors instead of focusing on negative behaviors is what it’s all about!
I love this! I just went to Ron Clark. I want am starting in my classroom and I am hoping it takes off!!!
Thank you for the information!
Do you guys take points from students for bad behavior?
No, once they earn a point, it is theirs. A bad behavior doesn’t cancel out a good behavior.
We are a K-8 school with approximately 600 students. Would you suggest only 4 houses still. Just seems like a lot of students for each house. We want to integrate all of our grades/students together.
Yes, we have about 700 students and we still have 4 Houses.
I cannot get the password for all of the amazing freebies. Any suggestions?
Thanks so much! You ladies are amazing and I really am inspired!
Hello! We can see that you signed up, but you did not confirm with the first email that we sent. Once you do this, you will be emailed the password. You can try checking your Inbox again for our first email to you or your junk folder, or you can just sign up again. Hope this helps!
Just signed up to get your lyric freebies. We are wanting to launch our House System schoolwide via EOY assembly just like you all! Did you ever write a follow-up blog post to how the House System is going schoolwide for you? I would LOVE to read it and get some insights before our launch. Thanks for sharing your awesome ideas!!
I would love to hear more about how you implemented this schoolwide. We did this this year and one of the things we struggled with was making those connections. We could only work out one day a month for schoolwide house meetings. Did you guys continue to do weekly meetings? Also, what did you DO during those meetings? I wanted to allow each house to have their own identity, so I allowed our teachers to just do whatever they wanted to do, but it became more work/planning for them. We also are right under 500 students (so similar in size). That is 75 students (approx) in one space trying to do one task. How did the management of the meetings look for you?
Hello! So exciting! This year, we did school wide rallies on the blacktop every Friday. We sang songs and announced the winners for the week. Every Friday, we also had grade level House Meetings. In our 4th grade, there were 105 students this year. We divided up into Houses and students made up a cheer. This took about 10-15 min. Then, we got together as a grade level and sang some songs, gave some awards and students performed their cheers. This also took about 15 min. Hope that helps!
With all of the at home learning this year Were you able to maintain your house and the enthusiasm Do you think the fact that you had a house system increased the engagement of kids when they were home? I would love access to your lyrics if that is still available. We are looking at implementing a 5 house system–The lyrics would really give us a boost.
Currently doing some research for my school to create way more engagement with the house systems that we currently have as our lower grades barely remember what houses they are. Are teachers allowed to give out points in their individual classrooms or how are points allocated to the houses?
Thanks so much! I loved reading this.
Teachers can give points in their own classroom or when out and about on campus!
Each grade level has their own houses, or can we have 4th, 5th, and 6th graders assigned to same house? Or does it depend on numbers of students in the school on how to do this?
Students are in multiple houses within the same class. (Split 1/4)