It has occurred to me that some days I am like the pool lifeguard. I’m up there on my high chair, I’ve got the pink zinc across my face like war paint. I have my whistle for the troublemakers, I have my flotation device for those who entered the pool and weren’t ready to. I’m also there to support the new swimmers and to provide slow lanes for the more adept swimmer who have been at the pool a long time and are keen to keep swimming but at their own pace. I’m also clearing lanes for those swimmers who are keen to take on Michael Phelps and occasionally get a leg cramp. I look after them all.
I am privileged to have teachers honestly share their concerns about teaching with devices and associated organisation systems with me. These concerns centre around the expense to families, robotic replacement and how to make a measurable difference with the devices. The transformation that the journey of flipping brings to these challenges is so positive.
It has literally, for some, been the difference between quitting or remaining employed. Time and time again I have been told that before starting to use flipping, resignation letters were written. PLD has turned this around and reignited a passion for teaching, teachers often use the lifesaving reference, “Thanks, this is a lifesaver.”
Teachers frequently begin their digital journey, worried that being a 1:1 device environment would be another extra, in a place where there is already a deficit of time and energy. However, as we near the end of our 1st full year promoting inflipping with KAR, I am finding that this is changing. There is now a view that digital is the nuts and bolts of being able to flip and still have time to do the extra things that teachers always dream of doing.
The flipped online PLD courses and face to face training that I do, has given teachers the confidence to bridge the digital divide and the pedagogy to feel confident that embracing a digital classroom can maximise learning not just enhance distractions.
Teachers are embracing a structure that allows them to teach and meet all of the different goals and individual education plans without putting themselves through the mincer. I personally used to give the analogy that it was like facing a very hungry nest with baby birds all squawking at the same time. Now with the ease of Google Classroom and inflipping as one teacher put it to me today, “The kids have lots of learning chances, as many times as they need.”
But “it just makes sense” is another thing I am often told usually with a lament that why was this not shared sooner? In my role across many different schools, I have not had one teacher ever come back to me and state that they disagreed with the notion of inflipping or that the approach could not assist their practice in some way.The leadership in the cluster of schools has been exceptional. It is a fantasy to dump devices into the hands of students and expect staff to miraculously instigate innovative pedagogies. Staff have been given the time and support to trial practice and learn just as we would hope happens in classrooms with students.
Digital immersion is consistent with the virus model. The virus of excitement. This involves seeking out teachers who are keen and open to trial new things. Effort is put into engaging these staff as early adopters. The teachers you know like to explore the deep end of the pool. Once these classrooms are underway with the right support, the next tier of staff will
want to see what all the excitement is about. Adults all subscribe to the Keeping Up with the Jones’ theory and thus the virus will spread. The excitement of staffroom talk regarding the success of the inflipping is also key to this virus spreading and student success will also provide a motivator.
We have started small with teachers choosing a curriculum area they are confident with and then inflipping 1 unit or 1 groups tasks. VERY VERY quickly this escalated due to student success.
I have found that by assisting as many staff as possible to complete the level 1 Flipped Course there becomes a shared language and pedagogy for staff to scaffold each other in shared learning, “techy tips” and resources. We have also used differentiated teacher PLD days to engage and motivate staff. This has culminated in a mini-conference with staff from my cluster sharing with others including staff from other schools. The power of teacher led PLD for teachers is undeniable as is using an open classroom strategy where amazing practitioners welcome observer teachers into their rooms. The level of awhi (support) that this collegial support brings to a school on a shared journey is inspiring to be a part of.
When teachers share success with me, with as much enthusiasm as the children they teach, you know the passion for education has been reignited. Active learning inquiry, thinking based projects, 20% time had almost been driven out of education in a relentless pursuit of higher reading, writing and math grades. The joy and interest these pedagogies can bring to a classroom and to student learning is mirrored by the engagement and enthusiasm teachers have for motivated learners. The boredom of drill and skill …page 23 in your textbook practice cuts both ways. Teachers who are inflipping in our cluster now have the time to do the stuff that sets minds churning and creativity is making a wildly organic come back.
Quite apart from the first-hand observations I have made, where teachers are brimming with excitement, is the depth of worldwide research and practice. As a leader and facilitator, a solid platform from which to engage in what is, for our region, a very new shift in practice.
The foundations that the FLGI online course structure provides affords a differentiated scale that makes this an extremely useful resource to augment my inflpped PLD.
So I’ll continue to support and watch from my life guard chair. I’ll enjoy the view as the people in my pool are once more becoming enthusiastic about what they love to do. I’ll watch as they relax and become more confident in their careers. I’ll be happy with the spread of this virus in my pool. There will be no more semi drownings on my watch.
I invite you to join me and other teachers at the RESCON NZ conference being held at Ormiston Senior College Auckland on Friday 7 and Saturday 8 September 2018. I’ll be facilitating a Cohort – Differentiating Your Classroom Helps You and Your Students…..come along, you won’t look back www.resconnz.com