Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Conversations and Observations - Every Single Student

Had a conversation with one of my Math Analysis students yesterday about the flipped class.  I guess one our other math teachers decided to have the students do a statistical analysis with some data this teacher got on the flipped classroom that "proved" it doesn't affect student achievement.  Several of my students are co-enrolled in both courses, so of course those that prefer the traditional classroom took it as an opportunity to loudly share their opinions in that class, while the others just kind of sat there quietly.  I don't really want to discuss that situation any further, but more so what came about because of it.

Anyways, this student who told me about it is one who loves the flipped class, so it was an interesting conversation to have.  We talked about one of the benefits of the flipped class in terms of use of class time.  I gave him this scenario:

"Imagine I was teaching you about the Trig Functions today.  I would have 40 of you in the 'audience', half of you listening, half of you spacing out, half of you getting it, half of you lost, half of you participating, half of you slouching back in your chair mindlessly copying notes.  Even if I was super exciting, doing crazy things up front, making amazing connections...that is still what I would see."

I then asked him to take a glance around the classroom right then.  Here is what we saw (I wish I had my video camera with me):

EVERY SINGLE STUDENT was either solving a problem, leaning over helping someone else, talking about a question, or otherwise involved.

I NEVER got that in my traditional classroom, even on my "best" lecture days.  Even when I thought I was the most engaging, innovative, and creative teacher, I still never had that.

No matter what complaints I hear, I know what I am looking for as an educator.  And, when I see more engagement, involvement, higher-order thinking, questioning, achievement, improvement, and feelings of competency than I have in my five years of teaching thus far, I know that I am doing something right.  

Or, THEY are doing something right.

THEY are the ones who are doing the work, leading the discussions, making the connections, and challenging themselves.

I am just there to guide, to provide the structure, to explain when necessary, to encourage when needed, to push when they are stuck, and to fully support their learning.

Their success is in their hands.  They have all the tools necessary to succeed.  They are responsible for their own learning.  It is up to them to do what they should with what they are provided.  That is very freeing to me, as a self-admitted overly stressed and overly involved teacher.  I can't do the learning for them; I can just provide them with everything they need to take charge of their learning and succeed.

A student-centered classroom.

I really like this change.  Although it is still a big work in progress and I am always learning new things, the Flipped Classroom approach has changed my teaching in amazing ways.  I can't wait to see what the rest of this semester holds!


  1. Its quantitative vs qualitative. Qual tells the real story. You said it yourself, every student. Love the blog, keep up the good work.

  2. Thanks, and I agree. By the end of the semester, I'm hoping to have the quantitative that supports the qualitative. :)

  3. I don't understand why another teacher would even think of disrespecting what you're trying to do by undermining your efforts with the students.
    I would be mortified and angry. Keep up with what you're doing despite the backhanded attempts to quell your enthusiasm. I am applauding your efforts to find a way to reach each learner and commend you for your efforts.

    1. Thank you for your encouragement - I definitely had to hold my tongue. It makes me remember that I am the one that truly knows what goes on in my classroom and the effects it is having on student achievement and attitude, and that is the viewpoint that truly matters. Thanks again!

  4. I think what you are doing is great! I am just starting to research Flipped Classrooms, and hoping to get materials together to implement in my courses next year. Several of my classes where I have given notes that I expected to take 20 minutes that turned into 40 minutes because of slow note-takers or kids zoning out -- I wished I could be doing a fun activity instead! Keep up the good work, I love reading your blog as I get new ideas for my classroom! :)

    1. How exciting that you will be trying the FC next year! It truly has changed my teaching in ways I could never imagine. I am with you on the "20 min" lesson taking the whole period. It happened way too much, and left students either (1) bored or (2) still confused. I think it is such an essential tool to use to get the students doing most of the learning, applying, etc instead of just being passive receivers of knowledge. Thanks for the comment and for following!


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