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Posted: May 03, 2017

Teacher uses song 'Lean and Dab' to empower students




A Rockdale County, Georgia, teacher is helping her students get their grades in "formation" with a little help from music.

Kathleen Ruff is a third-grade teacher at Honey Creek Elementary School, and even though it’s her first year teaching there, she’s no rookie. Ruff has been a teacher in the county for 10 years.

“I am a passionate teacher and I love to make learning fun for my students,” Ruff said.

Nearly 11 years ago, Ruff started bringing songs into her classroom.

Ruff said she incorporated music into the classroom during her very first year of teaching, 11 years ago. Ruff taught kindergarten for the first seven years of her teaching career and songs were a huge part of her daily activities with students.

“I remember sitting at home one night trying to think of a way to help my kids remember what a complete sentence looked like,” Ruff said.

And as she sat there and jotted down some ideas, Ruff came up with a few lyrics to the tune of "If You're Happy and You Know It" and it was an instant hit.

The rest is history.

Ruff writes the lyrics to the songs she uses in her classroom, but she uses the music from current popular songs or past songs that were once popular, she uses only the instrumental version.

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“The Milestone Test Prep song I wrote was to the tune of "Lean and Dab" and in the video you hear the instrumental version in the background,” Ruff said.

The Rockdale County teacher says she firmly believes this has made a huge impact on her students' learning.

“When I do the songs, we have a great time and my kids are always highly engaged,” Ruff said. “Most importantly, they're learning and it's empowering them.”

One instance clearly sticks out to her.

“Afterwards, one of my students turned to me with a huge smile on her face and said, ‘Ms. Ruff, I feel so confident. I am ready for this test. I know I can do it.’"

Ruff says that right there is why she brings this technique into her classroom and why she does what she does.

“The smiles. The confidence. There's no greater feeling,” Ruff said.

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