The Environment

My video was rambly this week. I think it’s because I have complete control over my environment, but there’s just not much I can do with it. I have a really small classroom and some big classes, so it gets packed quickly.

It’s easy to fall back into default “classroom mode” where desks are in rows for ease of movement, which is important. If you can’t do what you need to do because the arrangement isn’t working, (but hey, they’re in groups!) you’re environment still isn’t flexible enough to push students into owning their learning.

I’m pretty open about where students sit. A year ago (nearly to the day…wow…) I wrote about seating charts and they’re influence on the environment. I’ve resisted making new charts this semester because I’m shooting for the right balance in the room. This ties more in with the culture, but the physical environment is affected: who sits where, how does their interaction demand attention from the space, etc.

Being flexible with the environment starts the change. Being okay with (sometimes) big groups of kids helps send a message that learning is collaborative. Moving around your space (yes, it’s okay to have a desk and a space of your own) so you work more effectively in the classroom space will also help make that transition. Since moving my desk, my interactions have improved, my rapport is better, I feel more aware, and students expect more interaction from me. All good things.

Back to the Flipping Basics

Ken Bauer has more energy than I know what to do with. I met him two or three years ago (something like that) and ever since, he’s taught courses, advanced in his university position, joined the FLN board, and really just been a great friend.

Ken is running an open course (a cMOOC if you want to get technical about things) on Flipped Learning over the next eight weeks just because. He organized everything, set up the website and syndication, promoted, and is now managing 40+ people going through the course. I helped out last year by hopping into a hangout or two with some folks to talk about the Pillars. But, I wasn’t in the classroom – I was an invited guest.

This year, I’m back in the course because I’m back in the classroom, trying to work out a lot of the same problems I thought I already had answers to. Kudos if you can follow that deeply meta line of thought.

I’m hoping to reevaluate what I think about flipping. Paul Andersen talked about his love/hate journey with flipping last year at the annual conference. We continued the discussion on a boat. I think I’m paralleling his journey now…I like the idea, I’m frustrated with the implementation and bottle necking (some of which is definitely my fault), but I think it’s still the right thing to do.

I want to find balance. I want to rework my understanding of what I do and why I do it. I want to articulate what flipping looks like for me in more concrete terms when I’m asked. I want to see what other people do. I want to be challenged.

I’m really looking forward to the next eight weeks.