No More Copies

We learn by emulating or imitating. To begin our frog dissections this week, I demonstrated proper cutting procedures on a frog. Students watched and then imitated my cuts. Soon, they were off on their own with a new skill under their belt.

"Mr. Bennett, to get through the muscle, I made a pinch cut again"

"I cut to the jaw instead of the larynx because it gave me more room to work. I pinched and then cut laterally to the jawbone hinge."


The same goes for teachers. We learn by watching other teachers and we can then imitate or emulate the tool or style in our own classes. This is especially true of first-year teachers, fresh out of watching and practicing with a seasoned teacher for a full semester. As far as preparation for a career, I think teaching has the best method (no comment on styles of teaching right now, simply the practice of watching and learning).

As we learn new practices and skills, we need to remember to put our own spin on what we do. I can tell you right now, a lesson copied from someone else will not be successful. We can see this even between classes. One method of instruction may work for one group of my students, but fail completely with another. I need to adapt my approach to meet the needs of each group.

Flickr CC, jonrawlinson

This comes up a lot with the flipped classroom. I see ads for "solutions to flipping" and "use service ____ to unlock your flipped classroom!" I am getting more and more questions from people asking, in a step-by-step instruction manual, how to flip. There is no answer to that question, there is no service that you can use and magically change your teaching.

The best I can do is show you what I do, and then you can take what you like and leave the rest. My class is not your class. My student's needs are different from your student's needs. Do not go searching for the "perfect" flipped class to copy because it does not exist.

Repeated copying ends up diluting the sharp contrast and color of a beautiful original. Be original in what you do because you and your students are one of a kind.

2 thoughts on “No More Copies

  1. Jon Bergmann says:

    I agree Brian: this is a problem. There is no ONE way to flip a class. It is messy. It is out of control. And it is beautiful. Maybe one reason the flipped class is successful is that it forces the teacher to truly customize.

  2. @jsprfox says:

    Great post, I liked your point that no one will teach it as you do even if you explain exactly to them how you did it. Remembering this should help convince teachers to share more because others will always do it differently. Its kind of like lighting someones candle with yours, you pass the flame on but don’t lose your own.

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