Sunday, February 12, 2012

Getting Over It

There are several significant adjustments that I've had to make in my own mindset to do the flipped class.  As I noted early, one of those is having a lot more to do every day.  I can't skate by on my old lecture notes and personality (which my peers will laugh at!).

One of the first things that is tough to deal with is the feeling that I'm not "teaching".  The actual content is delivered via video for the most part, with a few minutes of review at the beginning of each class period (or more as needed).  Students are then engaged in an activity, working on problems in groups, making videos, etc.  While all of this is going on, I'm circulating around the room, helping groups, offering advice as needed, asking questions to see if they really know what it is that they are doing.  Some days it feels like I should be doing more to directly deliver content.

The reality of course is that I'm delivering content in a much more effective way.  One could argue that it is not as efficient because instead of standing in front of 30 students and answering questions, working problems and lecturing, I'm working with small groups of 2-4 students doing some of the same things.  Sometimes I end up working the same problem multiple times.  That makes me want to get up and work it for the whole class, which I do occasionally.  But a lot of times, I just push each group through the problem in their own way.  And that is the thing with the method of me sitting down with them in a small group.  I'm not working the problem...I'm asking pointed questions, and in a very small group they can't really hide in the way that they would in the whole class setting.

You know how it is, you ask the whole class a question while you are explaining a problem and the same 4 kids respond, or they respond corporately and you can't really tell who knows.  There are ways around this, yes, like popsicle sticks and random student methods, but still, you get a couple of responses each time.  With the way I'm doing it now, I am trying my best to stick to my mantra of every student, every day.  I am not at the point of giving individualized problems to work on, but I think I am going to try some of that out later in the semester as it is definitely the best model I think.

The other big issue is that my classroom is often chaotic.  We are now at the point in the year where some of my students are starting to break away from the pack a little bit, working a day or two ahead.  So that means that I might have students watching videos to get ahead, some working on an activity from 2 days before and some working on "that day's" assignment.  I so wish I had the ability to do more lab stuff in class as well, which I'm headed towards once my demo table gets in.  That of course will only add to the chaos.  

I'm ok with the chaos, it is often integral to learning, and certainly necessary to most student centered learning.  But not everyone likes it.  I'm pretty fortunate that I have administrators who are not only comfortable with kids not being in seats, but encouraging of it.  All it takes is one admin change to foil that though.  Also plays havoc with the planning part of our new and complicated evaluation system.

All in all, I'm learning to deal with it, making the adjustment with as much grace as a chubby, bald, middle aged guy can muster.

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