Friday, August 21, 2009
This morning I joined a few hundred educators and community members to hear Ron Clark share his adventures about being a teacher. I have seen many of his videos showing him interacting with students and the Matthew Perry, as Ron Clark, TV movie. I was surprised to discover that he was actually quite a soft spoken, quiet man in person. I found it a bit amusing that he was hanging around the juice and coffee area standing alone. I suppose most people did not recognize him or were too shy to say hello. Not me! I went up, introduced myself, and shook his hand the way my daddy taught me to years ago. He was pleasantly conversational and asked about my job at the university. I was impressed by his thoughtful questioning that showed he was interested in hearing what I had to say. This is one very clear reason that Ron Clark is such a successful teacher-he demonstrates through his every day actions that he "walks the talk." It was a good thing I shook his hand because later on, he spoke on this very topic-the importance of teaching children a proper handshake. Learning something as simple as the proper way to shake a person's hand can make all the difference in the way other people perceive you. Too soft a hand shake might indicate a weak personality. Too firm might make others think you are trying too hard to impress. But, in Goldilocks fashion, a "just right" handshake, somewhat firm, but not painful, with fingers clasped over the other person's hand, and deliberate eye contact, sends the message that you are a person to be respected and that you respect the person you are greeting. These are life skills that are so often missing in young adults today. If someone does not teach them, how are they to learn them?
It's late for a Friday, and I am the only one left in the building again, so even though I would like to ramble on about these topics, I won't. One last thing, If you have never read any of Ron Clark's books, then I encourage you to check them out from your local library, or invest in a copy. The stories are hilarious and heart warming. You are sure to find a story that will remind you of a teacher from your past. More importantly, as he describes the qualities of a great teacher, you will see a bit of yourself. Best wishes on a new and successful school year to all educators. Let's make this the best year ever!