Friday, May 10, 2013

The Pushback... and the Push Forward

It's May. Nearing the end of the year. Staff and students alike are starting to sense that summer vacation coming on, and things are getting a little testy when it comes to completing work. This is my first experience with the Flipped Classroom at this point in the year, and I'm definitely beginning to see some difficulties in keeping my students focused and engaged with the philosophy.

The first sign of this came the other day, when several students openly, and honestly, told me that they weren't going to watch the videos anymore. For various reasons, they felt as though they didn't need to, or couldn't find the time. It was an honest expression of their feelings and I welcomed the input. It allowed me to consider how the flip is impacting my students; and how they view the 'new way of doing things'. What began as an individual comment-in-passing, led to a frank discussion with the entire class. Many shared their feelings on the flip, and what they wanted to change. Standing there listening to their comments, made me consider a number of things.
  1. Not all students will appreciate the flipped classroom. This reaffirms my thoughts at the beginning of the process, that most students have been hardwired into the traditional method of education, and it's difficult to get them out of that. Furthermore, just like the flip benefits some learners due to their learning style, it will also be resisted by other learning styles.
  2. You have to change things up, and keep them fresh. I begin each class the same way, and really focus on having the students discuss their learning from the previous nights video. I still believe this is a valuable start to the class, but also have come to realize, that it becomes tiresome for the students. I have to change things up more regularly, just like you would in any class, and keep things interesting (especially the start of each lesson).
  3. I've found the students have mixed reviews regarding the videos, and what they actually are. Some of my students, for the first time, have said they view them as homework - this is in stark contrast to my previous semester's class who did not. Realizing this, I need to really shorten the videos so that they don't become such a burden.
  4. It is a learning process for both teacher and students. Just like the students have had to adjust to the flipped classroom, I also need to adjust. I have to learn from them as much as they do from me. However, this is where the flip truly shows its value. Due to the freed time in class to really connect with your students and talk to them, you have plenty of opportunity to really gather their input. That in itself is well worth the process.
I still believe there are far too many benefits that have come as a result of the flip; and far too many to ignore in order to go back to the "same ol' way of doing things". The fact that the flip is a process, has allowed me to continuously reflect, solicit feedback, and make adjustments as necessary. I've heard many say it many times, flipping your classroom is not a 'tool' for your classroom, but a 'philosophy'. I wasn't sure I understood it until now. Understanding this will allow you to take such resistance in stride, and push you forward to continuously improve and ensure the learning is happening.

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