As I was sitting at a Common Core professional development this past week, something happened (Why was I at a Common Core PD??? While I don’t fully embrace this new era we are entering, and the implementation of Common Core assessment seems like a joke, I do like the focus on higher order skills, so I want to learn about it. Back to the story). What happened was scary, funny, but more than anything it was enlightening. One single question asked by one person, and the reaction that followed was all it took. Are you ready? Here’s what was asked…
“Have you guys heard of a flipped classroom?”
(Before I go any further let me clarify that this post is not archived from a previous year. This question was asked on July 9, 2013.)
I was waiting for a variety of responses. There were none. A few people sat silently (in a common core coma), and everyone else said no or shook their head as if they were completely confused by the question (You know the look/head shake I’m referring to). After 5 seconds of that, and processing what just happened, I jumped in and offered a few thoughts on flipped classrooms. I’m not what you would call a flipped classroom teacher, but I definitely have embraced aspects of it, use it periodically, and understand it and multiple interpretations of it. The people I was with had no idea what it was, and aside from the guy who asked the question, they had never even heard the term. I’m sure a lot of you now understand why I thought this was scary and funny at the same time. You can also maybe see why I thought this moment was enlightening.
Our colleagues need our help. How can a room of teachers be in the dark about something that is common knowledge to a lot of us. I’m not saying they are bad teachers and I am superior to them because I knew about flipped classrooms. What I am saying is that a flipped classroom is a new teaching strategy, along with hundreds of other new strategies and ideas being shared online, and rarely in traditional PD, that teachers need to be aware of. So what about the teachers that are not on Twitter? The teachers that have never heard of an edcamp, or a coffeecue? These teachers should be exposed to the new and exciting things going on in education, and if they’re not on Twitter or into reading blogs, we need to share things in other ways with them. While we can try to sign them up for Twitter, it’s not for everyone, and we need to understand that. That doesn’t make them bad teachers. It just means we need to find a way to share with them.
Make an effort to share cool ideas, new teaching theories, awesome lessons, and anything worth sharing. Shoot out an email to your department or staff once a month with a list of cool things you’ve learned via your online PLN. Speak up at department or all staff meetings and share things. Let them know that there is a network of teachers online that are constantly sharing and supporting. Little constant reminders will serve two purposes. First, it will be a way to share the awesome things we are getting from our online PLNs. Second, the more times they hear “I saw this on Twitter” or “I read this on another teacher’s blog,” the more likely they are to go and check those tools out. It may take someone hearing that 5 times before they finally go sign up for Twitter. Don’t force feed anything, just let our colleagues know the value that you find in online, free professional development.
The eye-opening experience that I had, while scary, helped me realize that I want to share more; That I have to share more; That more teachers need to be aware of the teaching (R)Evolution that is going on right now. Spread the word!!!