Flipping the parents
I am happy with the internal mechanics of a flipped classroom and as I have discussed elsewhere I am working on helping the students recognise that this is a powerful tool for their education. My second greatest fear is a parental backlash. So I decided to go on the offensive and take the concept to the parents.
The parents (specific to class)
I wanted to the parents of my standard level Physics class to be well informed about the different teaching and learning strategy being utilised in my classroom. Furthermore, I wanted them to appreciate that this method has their sons or daughters at the heart but that this also requires for them to take on this responsibility. I also felt by opening up the mastery records page on the school portal it provides a useful insight for parents with respect to their child’s progression (and having a mother/father be able to monitor and push/ motivate my students to get stuff done is no bad thing either). With this in mind I sent the following letter to the relevant parents.
As it happens I have yet to have any responses. I am not sure if this indicates that I was successfully clear and informative or that the parents are just not that worried. Either way I felt it was the right start to any further conversations I might have to have with certain parents.
Parents (in general)
At my request “Learning styles and the flipped classroom” was added to the back to school night presentation night. Now I recognise that this is not the most rock n’ roll of session titles – not including words such as exceptional learner or advice on how to handle a teenager. With this in mind I expected at most 4 or 5 people to each of my two sessions. As it turns out I had 16+ people in both sessions (more than the exceptional learner sessions which I expected to be a sell out but not as much as “mathematics in the context of NIST” which turned out to be a surprise draw.
You can take a look at the related prezi – Learning styles and the flipped classroom (if you are that kind of learner) but as I have not added a live audio soundtrack I will try and explain the different phases of the presentation.
Phase 1 – Introduction and self reflection
Having introduced myself I started the session by asking participants to identify their own preferred learning style from visual, auditory and kinaesthetic and to sit at an allocated table. I commented that it was interesting how everyone had aligned themselves into the allocated boxes in such a quiet orderly fashion. Maybe it was that as adults they are now really aware of what is their preferred learning style or maybe the situation did not provide an opportunity for discussion. However, I felt that no one here had completely done themselves justice by sitting in a box and that in reality a map of the learning styles which best work for each individual would actually be a constantly evolving (dependent on a number of external factors) 3D shape.
Phase 2 – Our students are wise
I explained that I had recently asked a similar question to my year 11 science class who were about to start a teaching to learn unit on waves and that the response was fascinating. I was able to sit back and am taken back at the various nuances they discuss. Our students are aware of how best they learn and one of the key reasons for this is that the MYP has approaches to learning at its heart. Which in turn prepares our students for the increased demands of the IB Diploma.
Phase 3 – How you and I learnt maybe did not perfectly work for us
Considering the preferred learning styles we have each identified how did they suite an academic lecture situation?
Phase 4 – There is a new way
To emphasize the fact that, through the internet, we have now have access to great educational resources I show the Sal Khan TED Talk, “Let’s use video to reinvent education”, which both explains the ideas of the flipped classroom and the ideas of mastery.
Phase 5 – My classroom
I explain how I have set up my own classroom – a typical classroom with students interacting (and with me focused on student support) but with an additional set of resources available through the class portal site designed to help all the learners present.
Phase 6 – Mastery
Mastery will be displayed in my own class using the excellent Mind on Physics resource and is designed to help students identify where they need greater support from me and keep track of their own progression within the class itself.
Phase 7 – Know your child and help them know themselves
Talk to your child about their learning styles and what they study at school. If they can do this then it is a great start. If not then they may need your help on this journey.
Again the feedback from parents was positive but in a way that appeared they were more pleased to be let inside how different types of teaching and learning are taking place.
I think that both of the steps – the introductory letter and the back to school night presentation – have helped keep the parental community informed. I think it is surprises which people respond badly to, so with that in mind I am happy that I have taken the chance to plant some seeds.