I need a place to think and to try to put together my thoughts on using the Flipped Classroom with my CP Algebra 1 students (I love it with my Math Analysis Honors!). There are pros and cons, but if I am going to continue to use this teaching ideology, I feel there needs to be more pros than cons. Here are my struggles and frustrations. Please note that these are completely my personal views.
The purpose of this post is not so much to vent as it is to hopefully get some clarity in my own head and some suggestions from other educators who are dealing with the same type of population. How have you found success with similar students to those I will describe below?
Please note, that as I refer to "the students" in this class, I am not referring to every single student. There are some outstanding, hard working, successful students in each of my three Algebra 1 classes. However, I feel like this post applies to at least 50% of my students (more than that in some class periods).
The students in this class are so poorly motivated to begin with. One-third of all my classes are repeat sophomores who have already failed Algebra 1 once, some of them failed it again in the summer. They already have a very poor attitude towards math, and that was only compounded this year when they struggled first semester again (before I began to flip). Another third of my classes are freshman who took Algebra 1 or Pre-Algebra last year and received a D or an F. Again, these students already have a poor attitude towards math. Tie in the poor attitude with generally low levels of self-efficacy and poor work habits, which leads to the situation I am in right now.
The reason I chose to flip with these students was simple: They would sit in class and learn a lesson (through lecture, group work, activity, etc) and then go home and be expected to complete a practice problem set on their own. The one third I didn't mention above would be successful with this method. The other two thirds would either BS the homework, copy it from another student, or not do it at all. This was an issue, because they would come to class the next day unprepared to move on to the next lesson because they hadn't cemented the previous lesson through independent practice. This obviously led to low quiz scores and low test scores - both of which even further decrease motivation, efficacy, and the desire to even try.
I thought by flipping with these students I was making it SO MUCH EASIER on them. All they are expected to do is to go home and watch a video, take some notes, write a summary of what they watched, and ask a question. The only skills it takes to complete that assignment is a little bit of focus and effort. Then, they get to come to class and actually work on the problems with support and help. They get to ask questions and learn how to do it right! Who wouldn't want that?!?!?! I'm not asking them to work magic and suddenly understand the math. I am just asking them to do their best learning, to give their best effort, and I (and their classmates) will be there to work through the tough problems with them until they can do it on their own. If they aren't willing to make that tiny bit of effort, I don't know what to do.
Keep in mind I have done everything I am "supposed" to do as an educator - I have had student meetings, parent meetings, parent phone calls, set up "work plans", talked about time-management individually with students, met with counselors, etc. None of it has changed anything. I can't tell you how many parents I speak with and they say "Okay I will talk with them tonight about it" and the student shows up the next day without the video watched.
One reason I think I am more frustrated than normal is because today is a Monday. They have had three days (Fri,Sat,Sun) to watch the 9 minute video that was assigned this weekend. And yet the amount of students that come unprepared on a Monday is twice or three times the amount of a normal school day. And, they just come up to me casually and say (like I've requested them to do), "Oh, I didn't watch the video". Yes, I am glad that about half the students who didn't watch it told me. But, when 1/3 of the class didn't watch it but told you, 1/3 of the class didn't watch it but won't tell you or proactively try to watch it, that only leaves 1/3 of the class that is even remotely prepared to move on with the material.
Our students these days need so much more than knowledge of the subject. They have to be taught time management, goal-setting, strong work ethic, value in education, motivation, how to focus, how to ask questions and advocate for themselves...
It just seems like so many of my students don't even care.
I am not giving up. I know there has to be a solution to this problem. I believe in the value of the flipped classroom ideology and believe that it can be successful with all grade levels and all subject areas.
However, the flipped classroom ideology does give students more responsibility for their education than they have ever been used to. Many of them don't know what to do with it because they don't have that time-management, ability to focus and learn, ability to advocate for themselves. I think that shows a problem with our educational system today because aren't those skills that we want our students to have in the real world? They may not remember how to graph and solve a quadratic equation, but they need to remember how to use those other skills learned in the process (time management, ability to focus and learn, ability to advocate for themselves, etc.).
I wonder: Would I be having this issue if I started flipping in September and had this "mastery" and "you can do it" mentality from the beginning of the year? Is it the switch that they have struggled with? Is it the fact that many of them had already given up before I started flipping? Is it the fact that they need more training and since I'm in the middle of the year I didn't take the time needed to train them in this new system?
I feel like I am a very motivating and encouraging teacher and have never struggled like this before. My students have always come on board. They have always jumped in and joined with what my expectations are.
If I have to hear another student say "Well, I know, I'm just lazy" as their excuse and have them continue to think that it is okay to be that way, I don't know what to do. I just want to say: "DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT! Make your life better! Make changes now!" But, they don't see the value in that.
All day I've been thinking about the quote:
You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink
How can I make my students thirsty so they WANT to drink? I think that is the answer that will solve all of my frustrations mentioned.
As I reflect before I post this, I realize that this post does not just apply to the flipped classroom. I think it just applies to education and motivation in general in any type of classroom, flipped or not. However, because students in my classroom now have to take responsibility for themselves and I am trying to give them space to learn how to do that, I feel torn...
Am I alone in this? Is anyone else feeling this way? Has anyone else dealt with this and found success somehow?
I know there is not one perfect answer but it would be nice to know if others are in the same situations or if there are answers, solutions, suggestions that I haven't yet considered...