Flipped classrooms, where students watch a lecture at home and then come to class and do projects and homework with the teacher’s guidance sounds interesting but not necessarily practical for lower primary grades. As a teacher leader at our school, the idea of flipping staff meetings started me thinking. In his post, Bill states “The first step in changing learning environments for kids is changing learning environments for teachers — and the most common learning environment for teachers is still the faculty meeting.” As I co-plan my Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings this year with my principal, I want to try to flip some of the meetings, especially those that we introduce with a video.
As I read various comments from Bill’s post I became more interested and excited about the idea of flipping Back to School Day. We have already decided to make some changes in the way Back to School Day happens at our school. The parents will be in the classroom with their children doing some type of activity for about 45 minutes, then the students will leave the classroom and the teachers will have time to introduce their program. The “specials” teachers (PE, art, music, library and Japanese) will not be coming into the classrooms for a 2 minute commercial as they have in the past. Those teachers have been asked to prepare a handout. What I would like to do is make some short (2 minute) videos of them that will be posted on the classroom blog. I would also like to make some short introduction videos of the 3 classroom teachers along with a short explanation of various routines and procedures. This will all be posted on the classroom blog and then during the time parents are in the classroom questions can be answered. The videos would be on the blog and parents can go back and revisit them if they have questions. This will be especially helpful for the many non-native English speakers. Back to School Day is on September 17th this year so next week I will need to begin video-taping the various teachers and myself. I hope to connect the videos to this blog posting once they are completed.
One of the other posts I read, that was interesting talked about what do administrators need to do to support teachers who are flipping their classroom. In the post John writes about the time necessary to make a change in a school. His principal told him that it generally takes 3 years. In year one staff are trying out new things. In year two the bugs are getting worked out and by year three there is a change in the culture. This is such an important reminder, change doesn’t happen overnight or even in one year. It takes time! Administrators need to be supportive by giving extra time for collaboration, finding or being a coach if necessary and realize that it may be chaotic and messy. I am very thankful to be working at a school where our administrators do just that. Three years ago we decided to change our Language arts structure in the lower elementary grades and use Daily Five. Two of us attended a workshop given by the Two Sisters. During the first year, at least once a month the teachers who were involved with the Daily Five had a luncheon meeting together to discuss what was going well or what was a problem or challenge. We all felt supported and affirmed for what we were doing. In year two we all tweaked the program to fit our students and our own personalities. This is year three and I’m excited to see where we will go. Hopefully one of the things we will do is to have some luncheon meetings where we can once again share what we are doing.
Last year, we also began technology integration in the elementary classrooms. The administration provided the elementary department with a technology facilitator who was willing to do research for us and come into the classroom and help us learn along with the students. It was messy and chaotic at times, but it was also exciting to see students and faculty excited about using and learning technology. All of the elementary classrooms have blogs and this year some of the “specials” teachers are also interested in setting up blogs. Students who have moved up to middle school have gone with new technology skills that the middle school teachers can build on. I believe that all of us will continue to grow in our use and understanding of how to use technology to help students learn.