Talking to students.
Who would've thought teachers would be craving such a simple, what was an everyday occurrence?
At the time this post is published, it will be exactly two months since the month of Ohio, where my family and I live, teach, and raise our kiddos, declared school doors would be closing for the foreseeable future.
In those two months, teachers started distance learning by frantically getting their classrooms mostly accessible online. Then teachers were hit with the harsh reality that many, and sometimes most of their students are not working remotely or even at all reachable. And now, as we are broken-hearted over the harsh reality that although distance learning has (and still is) saving lives, it is widening the achievement gap that we all personally trying to overcome minute-by-minute, day-by-day inside of our normal teaching lives.
We, teachers, are the ones who know the names of the statistics inside the achievement gap.
And we are screaming from the roof tops...
If I could just say to them...
If I could just let them know...
... that you can do this.
... that I'm here for you even though I'm far away.
... that I care so so much, and even though I want you to succeed, and I know you can, I understand that life is just rough right now, and maybe focusing on the work could be an escape for you.
There are so many things we would say if we could say it in their presence and it would stick better than if we said it through an email or video conferencing software.
Now I'm going to present a bit of a challenge to any teacher reading this who resonates with the desire to just talk to their students. The challenge isn't one like the ice bucket challenge, or do 50 squats for 50 days; no, nothing like that. It's a bit of a tough love challenge. Here goes.
In you desire to just be able to talk to your students, I have a question for you (and remember it's a challenge because it's challenging)...
Before COVID-19 abruptly thrust distance learning upon us, did you talk to every one of your students as often as you would've liked or should have?
Did you talk to every one of your students every single day? Did you even have the opportunity to?
I'm betting not.
The reasons for this are endless; from using class time to lecture or having to talk to a select few of students everyday because if you don't they'll take over the whole darn thing... yes, so many reasons.
But I think that this is one HUGE lesson we can all learn from (and opportunity we can't let pass up) during distance learning...
We've got to rethink how we spend our class time so that we can in fact talk to every single student every single day.
That's the opportunity we're looking at here, so let's seize it.
Now, you might be thinking it's impossible to speak to everyone of my elementary students every day when we've got specials and small groups and assessments. Or, that as a high school teacher, how in the world am I going to talk to all 30 of my students inside of a 45 minute class period?
You're right, it's not easy, and if you talk to every student every day, they are short conversations.
But, what if you did longer conversations twice a week with each of your students? And couple that with brief conversations with everyone once per week.
Imagine the immense impact that will have not only on the connection you make with each of your students, but on their performance in your classroom, and, maybe more importantly, their mental health.
This IS possible in the flipped classroom.
I remember pre-flip, when I would chat with a student feeling like I had never even spoken to them before, not in a personal, let's chat kind of way. I, honestly, I felt embarrassed, even a little ashamed... how could this student be in my class and I haven't talked to them. Unless of course they were a pain and presenting some challenges inside class behaviorally. Then we would talk more often, right?
But what about everyone else?
The way things stood though, when I had a ton of content to get through and only knew how to thoroughly get through it all with lecture, all other students would never hear a sentence from me that was aimed at them in a personal, conversational way.
To me, that was super upsetting.
And a lost (and massive) opportunity, if you ask me.
In the flipped classroom, it's possible. Shoot, it's probable, and even unavoidable.
And, teachers, we've got to seize the opportunity to flip the script, to change the status quo, and take back class time for what matters.
I want to help you do that. At the time of this post, I've got a Flipped Classroom Webinar coming up. And if this post resonates with you, this webinar is where you want to be. Click the image below to register for the date and time that works best for you.
During the webinar I'll provide training on the flipped classroom specific to how it can help you be prepared for the unpredictability of next year. We'll also have some time for Q&A, and then when we're all finished up, I'll send you a certificate of completion to turn if for CEU's.
I'll also be going LIVE on Facebook this Thursday. We'll chat all about what it looks like to talk with every student every day, and the whole idea of just being available to your students withOUT sacrificing all of your time to do so.
I hope to see you there.
All my best,