Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Flipped Classroom Check-In #4: The One Where I Called Time Out

Education Universe, I could use a pick me up.

What an exhausting week, and it is Wednesday.  My flipped video ambitions have been somewhat neutralized for the moment.  I have an 8th grade class that balks at them because "last year was easier," and a 7th grade class that needs to show me they can handle independent work and a classroom management interface like Edmodo.

Needless to say, I am a little bit disheartened.  We are nearing the end of a unit, which I'm hoping will end with some sort of positive... something.

I feel as if in my enthusiasm to practice what I have been learning about, I may have forgotten the most important and sacred maxim of teaching:  do what is best for your students.

I have 8th graders telling me how they want to learn.  It's not an outrageous request.  It's just what they are used to.  They want the security of doing things they know how to do.  I like mixing things up to keep them on their toes.  I also like preparing them for the undoubtedly 8 different personalities they will deal with in high school at a given time.  I am conflicted.

I have learned a few things in my first attempt at a flipped classroom however.  Let me share with you a few things I probably read about and forgot, or ignored in my pursuit of something I thought would be awesome:

1.  Videos really do need to be short.
2.  If students in general are just watching the videos in your classroom because they don't do the work at home, you are facilitating a computer lab in which you hear yourself talking all day.
3.  BYOD and flipped classsrooms share a connection that is not required, but should be at least considered.
4.  Independent work using the flipped model requires a recognition on the part of the student that they need to do their part, and ask for help when they need it.
5.  Ease into flipping, do not just go for it.  It's too much for a child to handle without letting them get their feet wet first.

There is more I have learned and filed away, but those were my biggest lessons.  I don't think that this attempt was a failure, because I learned something.  Actually, I learned a lot of things.  I figure this experience in similar to Edison's first few hundred attempts on that pesky light bulb.  Didn't go so hot.  But he figured it out... so I need to keep trying.

It's been one of those weeks where as a teacher I really feel like I am working hard to just tread water.  I'm outgunned at the moment, and I thought flipping my classroom would be like the cavalry riding in.  That hasn't been the case.

So as I have blogged countless times to share, to collaborate, and hopefully inspire someone, this evening I feel like I'm sending out the blog equivalent of an SOS.  I could use a hand.  I could use  a fresh idea or two.  I could use a second viewpoint, or an alternate perspective.  Unfortunately, no one in my building is attempting something quite like what I was envisioning. Additionally, only one other teacher teaches in my subject area.  Regardless, the time to collaborate is just not there.

So I am reaching out to the Education Universe.  You have great ideas, and as my Twitter page says, I'm always looking for the next great one.

Is it cheesy to quote the new Batman movies about why we fall.  So we can learn to get back up of course.

Alright, back to work.  I need to keep giving it my all.

Mr. J.

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