All Reflections from This Year can be Found Here.
Overall, this week was incredibly exhausting and probably the hardest week I've had all year. Do any of your weeks ever sound like this? Just a quick overview:
Monday - normal school day, led our department meeting after school, #flipclass chat as soon as I got in the door from work (5pm PST) until almost 7pm PST by the time I got off. Fun, but also kind of stressful. Then had to grade a set of Algebra 1 tests.
Tuesday - normal school day, two separate parent conferences during my prep, two parent phone conferences after school, mandatory Algebra 1 intervention session to lead, and then realizing I was going to be gone the next two days and I had to get stuff put together for that. Ended up staying at school until 7pm getting stuff done for a total 12+ hour work day with no break.
Wednesday - district meetings all day in a collaborative effort between our union and Superintendent. Good discussions with all the department chairs from all of our high schools and intermediate schools, but another crazy busy day with no personal planning time or rest.
Thursday - leadership team pull-out day on campus. Another good day, but another day out of the classroom with no personal planning time or rest. Found out that three of my students were throwing things at each other and calling each other names in my class that escalated to a fist fight at lunch. Lovely.
Friday - normal school day, but so completely exhausted from the week I'm surprised I made it through. Stuff to deal with from when my subs were here, missing about 8 kids per class due to a CAHSEE boot camp workshop for struggling Sophomores (that I found out about this morning), and caught a student who tried to forge 8 of my signatures on her homework chart.
With that being said, the ability to have my students continue to work on mastering content while I was absent was incredibly freeing for me as a teacher. Also, the freedom to not stress myself out over all the students who were absent today because they can still get the make-up lessons via video was great. The learning is in their hands. It is their responsibility. I tried to remind myself of that daily as I was out and about in my various meetings. Stressing myself out was not going to help them learn any better.
Having guided questions has helped me understand the content a little better. If I ever do not know the answer to a question, I then go back and watch certain parts of the video until I am able to answer the question. This way I catch little things that I misunderstood the first time I watched the video.
- The "Senioritis" student - this is the student who doesn't really want to do any work in class and would rather socialize. She doesn't need my class to graduate, and even though she is very bright and worked very hard first semester, now that she has been given more freedom, she doesn't know how to use it wisely. She frustrates me greatly because even though she is still friendly and will joke around, she doesn't get down to work when she needs to and always finds an excuse. She doesn't necessarily take me seriously when I try to explain to her what she needs to do, and I don't think she would respond positively if I laid the law down hard on her at this point.
- The "Lazy" student - I seriously wonder every day if this student actually watched the lesson or copied, because he can never answer even my simplest questions from the video. And then he acts like he is confused when I ask him to see the work he has done. He tried to show me an entire assignment of incorrect answers on Tuesday for angles of depression because he was too lazy to flip the worksheet over and check to make sure he got the same answers that the answer key had. That is the epitome of laziness in my eyes. Why do the work for 10 problems wrong instead of making sure you are doing it right and actually learning?
- The "Halfway Everything" student - this student has already been caught cheating twice in my class this year, as well as last year in math (different teacher) and another subject this school year. I feel like he only does enough to try to scrape by, and even if I just gloss over everyone else's work to sign off, I feel like I actually have to look at his work because I just have the feeling that he will lie to me about what he has completed and what he has done because of his cheating habits. I know that his lack of effort will come back to bite him on the tests, but at the same time I have already caught him cheating twice on quizzes this year and I know if he wanted to, he would find a way to cheat on the test as well.
- The "Coming along" student - I have to end with a positive one. This student struggled with the freedom he was given in the flipped class in the beginning, but has really started to come along. He tries to work ahead of the class on a daily basis and overall has been doing really well. I am very proud of his progress and the fact that I feel he is "figuring it out" - the fact that it's not about just doing the work, but it's about learning and mastering the concepts.
- Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Sometimes I love the flipped class with my Algebra 1 classes, and sometimes I get very frustrated. I don't know how to deal with the struggles and issues I am facing this year with these students in general - it is worse than I have ever had in my teaching career. The reason I chose to flip Algebra 1 this year (instead of just trying it in Math Analysis) is because first semester it wasn't working with these kids. They weren't doing their regular homework, they were struggling with learning the material because they would forget what they learned in class, they weren't taking responsibility for themselves, etc. I figured that something had to be done, so I decided to try something new. I couldn't stay in that frustrating situation and do nothing about it. While I feel the flipped class has shown improvement and has been helping, I am just so frustrated that it has revealed character traits of my students in a new light. I can understand (somewhat) that a student may go home and not understand the homework. (I say somewhat because with all the technology resources, me being available 24/7 on Edmodo, and 2.5 extra hours of tutoring I offer every day, there really isn't an excuse). What I CAN'T understand is that a student would go home, have computer/internet access, and choose to not spend 10-20 minutes watching a video, taking notes, and thinking about the material so they can participate in class the next day. What I CAN'T understand even more is that it would happen and then students would show up to school and not even ask to watch the video - they would rather sit there and do nothing. When about eight to ten students in each of my classes (of 36-38 students total) do that on a daily basis, I just don't know what to do. I have been trying to alleviate it by focusing on the positives, helping the students who are working, and letting the students who don't try and don't care just do what they will (which is normally just sitting there staring at their paper all period), but I feel like I should be doing more. Should I?
I asked my students the question "Is your Flipped Classroom time useful and productive for your learning?" This stemmed from a comment one student wrote on their Second Semester Survey where she asked "What's the purpose of the classroom now?" So, I really wanted to know what my students thought about their actual class time and if they thought it was useful for their learning. While I did not get responses from every student, I did get several and they all said many similar things. One comment that stuck out over and over again is that my students would actually prefer NOT to do little activities and games - they would rather just work and practice and take quizzes to show proficiency. They commented that they felt they were engaged and left class feeling productive when they were just given time to learn what they needed to learn. I found that interesting because I honestly expected most of the students to respond that they wanted more games and activities. My students don't want the "froo-froo".
During our Leadership Team Pull-out on Thursday, we had several discussions on Rigor & Relevance as well as Student Engagement. I really thought about how the Flipped Classroom can help with both of those. Because students are learning at their own pace and can re-visit content as much as possible, it allows the freedom to develop increased rigor and more real-life relevance for our students in the problems we have them encounter. I know that sometimes I felt I was (well, sometimes I feel like I still am!) watering down my curriculum because there were students in the class who just couldn't handle it, and so I would teach to the middle. Now I feel like I can appropriately challenge all students, helping them to think more deeply and make connections in ways that previously was not possible. In addition, I feel like the Flipped Classroom can greatly increase student engagement because the students are finally the ones in charge and doing the learning. There really isn't time for them to not be engaged (and those that choose that path quickly find out that they waste their time and it's better to stay on task and continue to work). I feel like many of my students are finally figuring out how and why to learn for their own good instead of just going through the motions.
6. After the initial group WSQing, students can work with whoever they want (unless problems arise), or they can choose to work by themselves. The ultimate goal is that the students are learning, making connections, and making sense of the content.
7. The "Summary" part of the WSQ can be several different things - a real, student-developed summary; a written summary response to questions I've posed (guided summary), etc.
2. Begin coming up with activities students can do to apply their knowledge or practice their knowledge in different ways once they get the basics. Again, this is something I think may just start to happen over the summer or next year since right now it's just crazy.
Thoughts, comments, ideas, your own experiences? Please share!!!
All Reflections from This Year can be Found Here.