I have to say that it’s been a while since I was so proud of a colleague for going out of their comfort zone and risking vulnerability in front of students. (It doesn’t happen as much as it should.)
As part of his professional learning plan, Mike, a twenty-five year veteran colleague, has been experimenting with flipping the classroom. He briefly presented part of his professional learning plan at a recent staff meeting.
LOW TECH, BABY
Several things struck me while I watched both Mike’s presentation and development of his professional learning plan:
- Change knows no age; Mike’s an educator in the twilight of his career who is attempting to embrace the changes in pedagogy, learning, and his students;
- Mike’s full disclosure that he was taking it slowly (“If I can do it, anyone can”) seemed to lend automatic credence among our staff who already hold great respect for Mike for his knowledge of subject matter, organization, and getting results;
- The rapt attention with which he garnered and the supportive attitude with which he spoke to the group; Mike would admit that he really never wanted to utilize technology for learning (Although he has been using a document camera for nearly three years!);
- Mike is more technology-savvy than he gives himself credit for: a YouTube channel, a detailed ‘how-to’ of video creation for each lesson, making his videos difficult to search (and semi-private) by controlling his tags;
- His recognition that innovation and technology are messy; they don’t replace the teacher instead they help to reinvent their role; technology only serves to serve;
- Mike sought feedback from his students to find out what worked for them as learners (we often forget our intended ‘audience’); and
- He appeared reinvigorated in his role as an educator and–although he wouldn’t think so–a change agent in education.
After a couple of flipped sessions, Mike polled his class to find out if this ‘flipped thing’ was a worthwhile endeavour, and if it aided their learning. Twenty-four out of the 28 students wanted him to continue with this format. To the four hold-outs, Mike offered to give them face-to-face in-class instruction while the other students worked away on their assignments. They, however, would still be required to complete all the requisite assignments. Two of the students immediately said that they would give the flipped idea another chance.
In an earlier discussion about professional learning plans (a mandated requirement by our school district) Mike admitted that he felt he needed to work on “better connecting with the students” he worked with. It appears that his self-admitted ‘low-tech’ approach of instruction his giving him the time to learn and connect with his students that he sought.
In other words, teach the students, not the content.