Every day, I carry a small black journal around to jot down thoughts, changes, and quick reminders to myself. It’s something kids find intriguing for some reason, possibly because I let them read it if they want to. They’re surprised to see how often I think about school and how much I write down about the things they’re working on.
What I haven’t done, though, is carry long-term thoughts around with me from year to year. I have day to day observations and reflections, but those are very quick snapshots of isolated instances, classes, and students. I head into new school years with the past year fresh in my mind. Students working well in a self-paced environment, collaboration is normal, and they are cooperative learners. At the end of the year. I need to start a book of reminders to check at the beginning of each year. I’m going to title it:
“How NOT to Start a Flipped Class.”
Entry number one: Begin with standards based grading from day one. – I say this because it is too much of a functional jump for many students to handle well from the first day of school. At the beginning, I need to structure a smooth transition from “traditional” grading methods (or the appearance of a traditional method) to the SBG system I would prefer to be in. If you’re new to SBG, Frank Noschese did a fantastic piece on simple standards-based systems that I’m modeling this year in chemistry.
Entry number two: Self pace from day one. – Self pacing is another foreign concept to students. They are not used to working for deadlines coming up on a regular interval. Very few students have the capacity to jump into a self-paced class and do well from day one. I need to direct the learning pace and then slowly ease into a self-paced class setting, once they’ve proven their ability to manage time well.
Entry number three: Student-picked groups all the time – Choosing groups is something I like my kids to do on their own, because it is something that helps me learn about the class dynamics. However, this can quickly turn into hang out time if it isn’t regulated well. It also leads to “point prostitution” (coined by Glenn Arnold) where one person does the work and the group benefits from their labor.
Remember, these are ways NOT to start your flipped learning system. I manage to make these same mistakes year after year, and I’m ready to stop the cycle of frustration I put myself in. I’m not losing hope for the year because I’ve seen what flipped classes can look like when everything runs smoothly. I just need to improve the first few steps needed to help students process the change.
What mistakes have you made? What adjustments or policies have helped your students make the adjustment? Leave your thoughts and tips (both what to do and what not to do) in the comments below.