Big Shoes to Fill
If you were to ask me twelve weeks ago what I thought about a Flipped Classroom, my answer would have been a simple, “What?” I entered Mrs. Bush’s 5th grade classroom not knowing how it worked or even if it worked and to be honest feeling a little skeptical. I was groomed to only think about teaching in a traditional manner which up until now, consisted of the teacher standing in front of the students delivering instruction. I quickly found that my comfort zone was about to be dissolved as I made my way into the realm of 21st century teaching.
My first couple weeks of observing the students and Mrs. Bush uncovered many interesting things. First, the students were in the middle of MAP testing which consumed all of Alpine’s three labs. This meant that the Flipped part of math had to be put on hold until testing was complete. I heard the students commenting on whole group instruction during math as, “boring” and “confusing.” I saw a lot of frustration and even heard one student say, “I miss the videos.” This immediately sparked my curiosity as to what this whole Flipped thing really entailed.
After MAP testing I was finally able to see how math worked in Mrs. Bush’s classroom and let me tell you, I was so amazed! I observed students who never did their homework during the two week MAP testing period, actually completing all of their homework once the videos were back in full swing. But more importantly, and probably the biggest element that the Flipped Classroom brought to life for me was that Mrs. Bush and I were able to reach every single student and work with them one-on-one. Now, that’s cool.
Okay, so Mrs. Bush makes it look easy. Let me enlighten you on how my first dabbles into the Flipped Classroom went….
After becoming familiar with all of the technology involved in creating the videos, I was ready to record…or at least I thought. I sat down with my notes (which were more like a script), took a deep breath and clicked, “record” only to immediately stumble over the first line! Five takes later I had finally gotten through the first part of the video and was ready to dive into the actual math lesson. Luckily for me, the process of recording became much easier after my first attempt.
Although my first video was finished, there were many more hiccups to come…like, what happens when the student teacher forgets to imbed the link for the video from Schooltube and the students can’t view the video on Edmodo? Or, what happens when the student teacher unknowingly makes the video longer than the 15 minute allotted time and does not realize this until a student raises his hand in the lab and says, “the video just stops in the middle of the last problem!” I could have panicked, but thankfully for me there are two lessons that both traditional teaching and Flipped teaching have taught me and that is to always have a plan B and improvise!
These are just a few of the curve balls that the Flipped Classroom threw my way, but as reflect upon my experiences I feel that I have gained so much. I have gained confidence in my abilities to teach math because I was able to plan, prepare and deliver math lessons without the pressure of conducting whole group instruction which often is interrupted due to behavioral issues. I have gained a wealth of knowledge about all of the technology available out there, and furthermore, I have seen how the use of this technology can enhance and impact learning. Finally, I have gained an appreciation for teachers who “go out on a limb” and try something innovative. Mrs. Bush took a risk and with hard work, dedication, and courage, transformed her classroom into a place where students can learn math in ways they never have before. I cannot express how much this experience has impacted my life as a new teacher and as I set out on my own journey, I leave with one thought in mind, I have big shoes to fill.