My wife and I planned a vacation during the school year, which maybe wasn't the smartest plan, but it was supposed to be three days away from the classroom. Some unexpected things came up and I actually was away from my students for four and a half days of class. This can obviously lead to some learning issues, especially in secondary level math and science where substitute teachers are hard to come by.
I saw this time away as an exciting experiment with flipped teaching. Before I left, I decided that my best plan of action would be to use a flipped teaching method while I was away; therefore, I created videos for most of the examples to be covered in class. This way the substitute would not have to deliver instruction in class, rather they can show my videos in class or ask the students to view the videos at home. In the classroom, the substitute's main task would to encourage students to explore problems, work together and help as best as they can. My vision would be that the students would really band together to reach a high level of understanding.
Before I left, I thought this all sounded great! Unlike other times I have been away, this time there would be different. There would be no excuses. Unfortunately, the results weren't quite as envisioned. The results were probably a bit better than normal, but the level of student confidence did not approach the level I had hoped. Where did this plan break down?
This leads me into thinking about how important the teacher really is in a flipped or blended environment. With only the videos to watch, the students were able to view the videos, but failed to really make meaning of them. When I am in class
- I spend time preparing the students to view the videos
- We explore the content together before unleashing the videos on them. This seems to be a really important step in the flipped process
- When we return the next day, I always recap the ideas from the videos. Again, this seems to be an important step in the students making meaning of the videos.
- The next step in the process is the students actively engaging in the content; this is the main goal of the flipped classroom - more time for students to engage in content.
Flipped teaching seems like a great method to use when you are away from the classroom, but there seems to be vital pieces in the flipped process that are missing without the teacher's presence. If you have had good experiences with flipping a class with a substitute, please share them with me in the comments below. If you have any thoughts on the topic, leave them below.
Thanks for reading!