Tag Archive | Communication

What the “Flip” Do I Do Now?

No. I am not using flip as a curse substitute. I am starting to wonder if flipping my classroom is really worth it.

Pedagogy says, “Yes!” My own reasoning says, “Heck, Yes!” But everywhere else I turn seems to say “Why are you deviating from the norm?”

I decided to flip my ninth grade math class. It’s a year-long course, so there is plenty of time for different instructional methods to be used and experimented with. What’s been getting me down lately is all the negativity I’ve received in response. It hasn’t been an entire class, but it has been just enough students and just enough parents to bother me and make me question my teaching ability.

As a first year teacher, I am well aware that I have made (and will continue to make) mistakes. It’s part of my learning. Mistakes are where the real learning happens. Unfortunately, my students hate making mistakes.

I’ve set up my Math 9 class so that the videos are like an appetizer to the lesson. They do a few easy examples or maybe explain a few processes. Nothing earth-shattering, but certainly less information than I would give during a “regular lesson.” Each assignment that follows is carefully crafted to progress from easy questions to difficult questions, in an inquiry-style format. Students are more than encouraged to work together in teams to figure out the processes.

Some students hate this. They don’t like change, and they don’t like making mistakes. Perhaps it’s that I’m getting tired and need a break, but I am having a hard time tolerating all the student-criticism. When I was in school, I would never have dreamed of criticizing the teacher’s teaching style. I may have complained to my mom, but it certainly never left my home. My mom would always tell me that the teacher knows what he/she is doing, and there is are reason for how they teach. I always left it at that.

I have also had a few parents recently who have asked if I would mind “teaching normally.” They weren’t rude about it or anything, but it is frustrating. I am trying to teach their students how to learn independently rather than regurgitating math examples. They don’t seem to see the broader picture.

Perhaps who I am frustrated with is me. One of those mistakes that I was talking about earlier is not communicating with the parents about this change in teaching styles. Next semester, I will send home an email highlighting the exciting changes to my classroom.

I guess the bottom line of this is that I want students to be able to make mistakes, then learn from them. Just as I am learning from my mistakes, I want to afford my students that opportunity too.


Constantly Connected

Look to your left, and look to your right. One of you is likely busy on your phone. I’m not going to lie: I just checked my phone.

Texting in the Park

Everywhere you look and go, people are constantly communicating. Photo credit to Phil Hutton on Flickr

What’s my point? Everyone, and I mean everyone, has the ability to be constantly connected 24/7. While some may argue that that is bad thing, I would like to look at the positives… sort of. With all the social media available, not including phones that are stuck on the wall (or portable now) in every home, we cannot escape communication. Over the course of a day, I constantly receive text messages, emails, tweets, Facebook updates, and so much more. Some days, I feel bombarded.

Now with this incredible opportunity available, why does it seem that communicating is more of a problem than ever? Thinking back over the last two months, almost every stress in my life, and many of my friends’ lives, has been due to a lack of communication, a miscommunication, or poor communication. How is that possible.

I’m challenging myself (and anyone reading this) to make a concerted effort to communicate and to do it effectively. This means that I am going to take the time to ensure that everyone is on board with what needs to happen/what is happening in all aspects of my life. Lately, I feel that everyone assumes that everybody can read their minds. That seems to be the trend. This only leads to stress for everyone involved. We can send a text, an email, a tweet, a Facebook message, or pick up the ol’ fashion phone and get your ideas/hopes/dreams/expectations/plans/fears/etc. to the people they need to get to. It will make us successful and it will make everyone else around us successful too.

Please note: This post is aimed at a very general audience. I think I can safely say that the contrary is true for communicating with parents. During my internship, parent-teacher communication was absolutely phenomenal and significantly more connected than when I graduated high school four years ago. There are still areas where everyone can improve, but parent-teacher communication is leading by example on extraordinary communication.

Sorry for the rant, but this seems to be something applicable in my life that I needed to reflect on.