Last week I introduced to you, at least on this blog but maybe not in general, the idea of content coaching and how it can truly change the game for teachers and have an immense impact on student learning. The post started this series we're in, and you can read it by clicking on the image below.
This week, I want to focus on more details about content coaching, and how we can make it as impactful as we hope. And, maybe, just maybe, have a greater impact on the systems of education and the impact we have as teachers.
Let's talk for a hot sec about student choice. It's a thing. It's a big thing. And it should be incorporated into every classroom; at least every classroom that is student centered, values student buy-in, and fosters a collaborative atmosphere.
But what about teacher choice? What impact does it have? Is it something we should consider in our decision making at the school and district or even county level?
Last week I went on a little tangent, but hope that I spoke some value and confidence into the lives of teachers around their impact on student learning. Often times teachers are undervalued in our society and totally undercut in their funding and autonomy.
I'm here to say that needs to change, and there are ways to make that change in the education system as it exists.
My mission here at Teach On A Mission is to empower teachers to confidently step into that role as the number one influence on student learning. And there are very specific ways that I believe we can do that, and that I can help with. I will elaborate on the few ways I think that can be done given the pressures of the education field today, but for this post I want to focus on just one. That one is content coaching.
There are quite a few definitions of content coaching. If you google the term, you'll get a few results that point you generally in the same...
What impacts student learning most is not a new conversation here in the USA (or in the world for that matter). It's been hotly debated for quite some time.
What impacts student learning most?
Learning must be measured by tests.
Or, wait, tests hinder learning.
How does technology impact learning?
Standards-based, flipped classroom, project-based, problem-based, student centered, backwards planning, flexible seating...
Wow - so many things. So many ways to impact student learning.
How in the world do we know what strategies impact students the most?
That's just it... there is no ONE strategy that will impact student learning more than another.
... there is one person.
If you're reading this post, this is probably no surprise to you that teachers are the number one influencer in a student's learning.
But I don't want to just say that and claim it as truth. I want you to see for yourself.
Economists Raj Chetty and John N. Friedman of Harvard and Jonah E....
I've been thinking about how to go about writing this post for some time now. And here's why. I am huge believer in the power of the culture of your classroom. I believe it is the undercurrent of every single classroom, contributed to by every facet of the classroom, and does not overlook anyone in the room with its impact.
In the flipped classroom, it is imperative - and this is the main takeaway I want you to get - I'll say it again, IMPERATIVE that you as the teacher spend time consciously thinking about and anticipating your flipped classroom culture. You'll see what I mean by this as you get deeper into this post, but to quickly show the significance here I'll say that you don't want to do all this work in flipping your classroom just to have a traditional classroom culture that sabotages all that work you've done.
The good news is that it's largely in your control. The not so good news is that, well, it can totally sabotage all this hard work...
"I don't learn this way," a student said in the second week or so of the new school year. At that point students had taken notes from about two videos in our first unit of the course, and this was her (as it was for most students) first flipped classroom experience.
"I just don't learn this way, you know, from a video," she repeated.
In an attempt to be patient and empathetic I tried reiterate what I was hearing her say, and then to be honest with her in a respectful manner. So I said, "I hear you saying that taking notes from a video is new for you, and that you're used to taking notes from a teacher standing at the front of the room, is that right? Well, let me ask you this... when you want to learn something new that you see someone do on social media, for instance you LOVE someone's new look and how she put on eyeliner. What do you do to learn how to do it the exact same way?"
"I look it up on Youtube. [long pause] O, I get it."
This post is a bit different from more recent posts that focus on ways to make a thriving flipped classroom. Instead of 5 ways to start or tools of the trade, this post is a bit more personal and vulnerable. I appreciate your grace when you read this, but even though I'm a bit more vulnerable, I feel impelled to share it so that we can all be a bit more transparent about our experiences in the classroom and, more importantly, so that you have some takeaways for your flipped classroom. So here we go.
First let me start by giving some context around the word "failed" when I say How I "Failed" my students in the flipped classroom. I do not mean that I gave them a failing grade for the course. What I mean is how I, as their teacher, did not have a great year in the flipped classroom; how I let me students down because I, frankly, got lazy.
Now, my students don't know the difference in how I was this year in comparison to past years' performances,...
O, data. The dirty D word of education. If you don't see it as a dirty word, well neither do I, but I do understand the negative connotation around that word in the world of educators. The negative connotation comes from the fear that data trumps all other aspects of education, which in some cases it shamefully does. But what if we look at it this way - what if the data is a piece of the puzzle in understanding if your flipped classroom is working or not? Just a piece, not the whole, but it can be a rather informative and effective piece.
Data can be just that if, and only if you spend some time reflecting on the following three points that I bring to your attention here.
So let's get straight to it.
In the flipped classroom, you'll notice quickly that there are more points throughout your course, throughout your students' experience in your course that you'll want to be informed...
Flipping the classroom is no small adventure. In fact, many teachers don't take the first steps to flip their classroom out fear of putting in some of the work just to realize they've bitten off more than they can chew. And then they've done all that work for nothing.
I wish I had known a few key pieces of information before I made any attempt to flip my classroom. My first attempt in my second year of teaching was a minimal one for the same reason most teachers can't or don't want to take on the full flip. I was in the middle of the school year, I wanted to flip as a retroactive solution to issues I had in the classroom that year, and I chose a quick, small flip out of necessity - I didn't have time to do any more than take small steps. In doing so, I fell into a few pitfalls that could have easily been avoided.
The few tips I give here are ones that I think any teacher considering to flip their classroom should keep in mind. Again, this...
I am so excited to officially join the conversation around many great topics involving improving your classroom environment. The one I want to contribute to here is the flipped classroom. As I've helped teachers flip their classrooms over the years, one of the most asked questions is how do I start???
What I hear when someone asks this is... I know the benefits of the flipped classroom, I know why it makes sense for me and my students (by the way, that is so amazing! I know that more teachers could benefit from flipping techniques, so the fact that you are already in the know is an awesome step one), but I just need some guidance on how to make that happen, particularly at the start.
And you know what - I hear you. When I first started my journey flipping my classroom back in 2012 it was a mostly lonesome road, as most journeys are for teachers who decide to make a big change in their classroom from one year to the next. And that's ok, but...