Thursday, February 23, 2012

Affirmation and Questioning Oneself

So we're a third of the way through the semester.  I had my last evaluation of the year last week and while I'm never one to worry a ton about them, this time was a little different.  This was my first real, fully flipped classroom evaluation.  I had two evals last semester, but I was in that weird in the middle part where I was making the videos and wasn't fully flipped yet.

I actually didn't think the evaluation went that well, and even after the post, I can think of a thousand things I should have done better.  But you know what, it didn't matter that much because while I was discussing it all with my principal she brought up how the classroom was truly student centered, how they spontaneously helped each other, how they knew what to do and that I barely addressed the class as a whole, instead was working with individuals or small groups.

The response in my head was "Yes! It works...."

I'll be honest, I'm still questioning the flip model a bit in my head each day.  I think that's because it is so much work on me and with sick kids and wife at home, it is hard to focus at night on putting the energy and time required into getting everything done for all of the demos and activities that I want to do.  I'm still not there yet, that's for sure.  I've had particular wonders about my honors class, which is a good class, but I can tell that they would much rather I just stood up there and lectured, gave them work and graded it.  I've done that for a long time and am pretty good at that as far as it goes, it would work.

But "it will work" is not really the mantra of trying to improve my classroom. Lots of things "work" but don't really, or just serve to gloss over a lot of stuff.  As I look back on my career so far, it's not that I think I've been a bad teacher, just that wow...I could have been so much better.

I think that's what I'm looking to pull out of the kids too.  In my Honors class in particular, they can all do the work and get "works" for them in that way.  But I really don't just want them to get by, to just work...I want them to learn, to grow, all of that pollyanna crap that I can barely believe I'm even typing, but that's really what I want.

I was sitting in a room of teachers in a leadership meeting a couple of years ago and we were doing some activity where we were writing down why we were in teaching or something like that.  My answer was that I didn't want to change the world, that I wanted to make a ripple, to have my kids make ripples too.  I got pretty roundly ridiculed for that, probably because I'm a pretty prickly sarcastic dude and they thought I was full of feces.

But it's true....and I think I've been making ripples before, but I feel that the stones I'm throwing in the pond now with the new way of doing things have a lot more heft, and hopefully, create bigger ripples.

So I'll stick with it...I've been pretty adamant about not slipping into my old model from last semester of showing the vodcasts collectively to the class during class time...I'm still sticking to the SBG thing even though I'd really like to shell out some points for other things.  But I think in this discomfort is growth for me and hopefully for the kids as they are uncomfortable at times too, not always knowing the correct answer, but hopefully starting to think a little more.  I'd hate to get to the end of the term and wonder what if I had stuck it out.

And yes, that little boost from administration, just showing that they like what is going on and will be willing to back you when stuff gets nuts, that is needed as well!

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