One of the most inspirational education films I’ve ever seen is The Ron Clark Story, which aired on TNT in 2006 and can be viewed online. This is a compelling movie about an elementary school teacher who moved to Harlem, New York in hopes of making positive changes in the lives of troubled inner-city youth. I mourned with him through the challenges he faced during his first few months of teaching and rejoiced with him when his diligent labors bore fruit. Ron Clark’s inspiring story is one that every educator should become acquainted with.
There are so many things about this teacher that impressed me. The first thing that struck me is how he recognized the innate potential of each of his students. This is a great strength, and it helped him to weather the fierce storm of recklessness and disrespect from his students. Even though he almost gave up at one point, he stuck with it and showed confidence that they could succeed. It is so important for teachers to have this attitude.
Another thing he did that impressed me is how he found positive things to say to his students. He observed them, discovered their strengths, and then offered encouraging comments. It didn’t seem to make much of a difference at first, but these efforts slowly softened his students to a point where they trusted him. It is essential for teachers to recognize and acknowledge the strengths of their students. Doing so gives them confidence that they can succeed in the future.
I also love how he thought outside of the box and utilized very unique tactics to gain the interest of his students. His chugging a carton of chocolate milk every 15 seconds to get his students to pay attention to an English lesson was genius! He realized that he had to be creative to reach his students, and he was willing to sacrifice his pride and time to get them interested in learning. These efforts eventually allowed him to use humor during his instruction, which helped him relate to the students.
His use of rules was also very effective. It certainly took time before the students respected the rules, but Mr. Clark was firm and consistent. He was not afraid to hold his students accountable and call them out for disrespecting his rules. He also used rules as teaching tools. At one point in the film, he pointed out to his students that each of the rules he had displayed in the classroom represented a skill they had developed. What an effective use of classroom rules!
One last thing that impressed me was how much time Mr. Clark spent outside of school helping his students. He left his comfort zone and went to each of their homes before school started to talk with their parents about his goals for their children’s learning. He encouraged them to meet with him after school for tutoring and even offered to feed them. I was so impressed that he was even willing to cook dinner for one girl’s family so that she would have time to study.
Mr. Clark’s deep concern for the welfare and success of his students is truly remarkable. He is an amazing example to all of us of what a true teacher should be. As far as he was concerned, his job as a teacher reached far beyond the classroom and into the personal lives of each of his students. This attitude helped him to change countless lives for the better and instilled within each student a feeling of self-worth and confidence in their abilities. What an inspiring film! I strongly encourage all education-minded individuals to take the time to watch this movie and find ways to apply what they learn. I promise a rich experience!