Step into a classroom in Garland ISD and chances are you will see innovative instruction at work. Teachers across the district are standing on desks, dancing in class and creating supportive environments thanks to Ron Clark Academy training—a motivating professional development program sponsored by GISD.
“After Ron Clark spoke at one of our convocations, we planned a group visit,” explained Director of Organizational Learning Nelson Orta. “We designed an opportunity that not is only about experiencing the Ron Clark Academy, but also reflecting on learning and our practices in GISD.”
Since the training opportunity launched in 2014-15, hundreds of teachers, campus administrators and instructional leaders have had life-changing experiences.
“That magical place changed me in many ways. It changed me as a parent, teacher and even as a person,” said Walnut Glen Academy for Excellence teacher Fernando Loaiza. “You look at yourself, and you say, ‘I am a good teacher.’ But being a good teacher is not good enough. You have to strive to become a great teacher. And that is one of the things that fired me up.”
Loaiza, a fifth-grade bilingual teacher, features cheers, music and movement in his classroom—mediums that excite and motivate his students. Fellow runners also incorporate ingenious methods of instruction, such as simulating a surgery to teach the mathematical order of operations.
“Teachers have been challenged to be ‘life changers’ by Ron Clark,” Orta commented. “Our educators continue to be influenced by what they observe in Atlanta, and are affecting others at their campuses. We are excited to see the ongoing transformations happening in classrooms throughout GISD.”