External commitments and partnership work meant that I didn’t teach last year and I missed it. But I’m back in the classroom. It’s only a tentative one period a week this year (snorts of derision from colleagues), but it’s the first time I’ve taught away from the English GCSE “Legacy” syllabus and I feel vulnerable again. I’m rusty and uncertain and I have to build new learning relationships with Year 11 and teach them poetry.
I’m also determined to approach the structures of learning by using some of the research and ideas I’ve read about and seen in schools over the last couple of years. It’s an exciting time to be a teacher. Our developing Bring Your Own Device culture and IPad pilot are statements of intent in the incorporation of technology into learning. Our students are leading the way also @iamjsanderson ‘s iDHSB app is part of the way we work and @YasinSoliman is a lower school tech champ! As professionals we need to connect with the zeitgeist.
So I’m trying something new. “Flipped learning”, among other terms is used to describe a learning experience in which students engage with learning material outside of the classroom and then bring their understanding to the classroom. The Khan Academy is a good example of this approach. The contention is that models of learning are traditionally the other way round, with students absorbing material in class and then going home to reflect and consolidate their understanding. Not all students find this easy and can feel trapped with their uncertainties at home.
It’s not really important what the “Flipped” approach is called. Sometimes the taxonomy of learning strategies can be bewildering and rather, well, “smug”. Connecting with students in the right way at the right time is what pro-teachers are able to do.
I only see my students once a week (smirks from colleagues), and I need them to connect more often with the ideas from our classes so I’m using Twitter to post links, share ideas, set questions and the #Yr11Eng tag to chart progress. Conversations outside of school also deliver implicit skills about the appropriate use of social media and taking the initiative in your learning.
Three weeks in and it’s not happening yet. Most of the posts above are mine. There are flashes of interest but these are probably related to the novelty and my seemingly bizarre insistence on the approach.
It’s a risk but I’m sticking with it. Poetry works on an emotional plane; ideas and connections are made as images and references emerge from our subconscious. I’m not sure I can always expect the most profound responses to poems to be forthcoming in a class full of peers at a prescribed time in the week. Gentle nudges to think and reflect outside of the lessons doesn’t feel like “flipping”, it’s the way I would love to have been taught.
It’s the way I learn now.