Friday, September 27, 2013


I just finished hosting a webinar on how to use flipped learning to meet the needs of the common core. We had over 150 live participants and around 400 people signed up to access the video later. It was awesome to have that kind of audience of educators.

While preparing for the call, I found out that only about 5% of US Educators have heard of the concept of flipped learning or flipped classroom. That shocked me. Because all of the teachers that I know and that are in my circle of friends know about this. Which brings me to the point of this blog- how many times do we not share because we think of the 95% instead of the 5%? How powerful is the  mob mentality?

What I mean by that is some of us are so accustomed to doing something amazing in our classrooms - so amazing that we no longer see how amazing it is. And since the people we work with also see it, then we assume that they know all about it and we fail to educate them on it. Whether it is flipped learning, or how to introduce grammar, or how to set up a lab for success, these little tips and tricks make our lives easier and make our students more engaged so why aren't we screaming them from the rooftops?

I think the reason is two fold:

1. Educators tend to be very humble. Yes there are the exceptions, but for the most part, I have found that they just see the amazing stuff as part of their job. They assume that this is what all good teachers do. But we have to accept that NOT ALL TEACHERS ARE GOOD TEACHERS. And that bothers us to the core. We tend to feel like a united front against all of the attackers that are out there. But why do we think this way when we know what not all government officials have the public's best interest in mind all of the time? Or that not all weather forecasts are accurate 100% of the time? We have to learn to take pride in what we do and then be willing to open ourselves up and invite the world in.

2. Educators, just like other humans, fall prey to the mob mentality. What I mean by that is we tend to assume that if people know us then they know what we do; meaning all the cool stuff that is going on in the classroom. If no one else is sharing their tips and tricks and bragging about their success, then why should we? We assume that because people know us that they understand us and that is an incorrect assumption. If no one is being brave in your building and talking about something, then chances are you won't either. So whatever the mob is doing, we tend to follow along.

We need to change both of these things and invite people in - which is scary. It opens us up to criticism and close examination of what we are doing in the classroom. And some people don't want to do that - and I get it. With pay for performance and merit based pay and all of the host of other bills and regulations that are coming out, it seems that the culture is becoming more guarded. If we share what we do and someone does it better, they get paid more and possibly get your job. But we have to believe in ourselves more that that. We have to believe in what we do and the choices that we make to help our students succeed. We have to take chances and share our ideas with our coworkers and help clear up misconceptions about ideas such as the flipped classroom/learning concept.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Going Dark- the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

I love this term...going dark. It means that some serious stuff is about to go down and people need time to focus on that. I am as guilty of this as anyone else.

Flipping my classroom does not mean that my life is easier, in fact I would argue that it is much harder. I have to be "on" every minute. I can't switch my brain off and drone on with lectures, I get to walk around the classroom and create relationships with my students.

It takes a lot of mental and physical energy to do this, which is why I have been living in the dark. For years, I have been successfully flipping my classes and having amazing success and keeping it all to myself. Not because I am ashamed or afraid, but because I thought that no one would want to hear what I have to say. So starting this school year, my goal is to blog at least once a week about what is going on in my classroom - the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Background: I am teaching four classes this year - one AP Literature ( a new prep for me - never taught, never trained), DP Senior English, Film as Literature, and Theory of Knowledge.

Plan: In the first few weeks to evaluate where my students are in reading and writing and set goals for them and an action plan to help them improve through my teaching.

Update: I have finished collecting the reading/writing samples and are evaluating the data. I am going to share data with the students today. I have created them score tracking sheets so that they can track their performance on various reading and writing tasks. They are going to record not only the score, but a focused improvement area as a type of metacognitive step.