Breaking the Ice

Fusion. noun. often attributive. 

: a union by or as if by melting: as

: a merging of diverse, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole

: a partnership : coalition

paint blending

Fusion. I’ve spent the past four days rolling this word around in my head. I’ve felt like Hercules Poirot sorting and solving a mystery and putting the pieces together, and then suddenly – just like that – the answer is there. The ‘who did it’ solved and I know what I need to do…and here I am.

Friday night I watched many of my students (past, present, & most likely future) weave and fuse dance, art, and music into an amazing two hours. Called ‘Movin’ on Fusion,’ this was an incredible celebration of the talent of our students (and incidentally the catalyst for my fusion obsessed weekend). Particularly memorable was one of my current students dancing around a number of other students drawing, painting, and throwing pottery on the stage. This young lady took my breath away with her grace and elegance as she appeared to glide in and around the other artists.

The amazing part: I had no idea she could dance like that.

I was stunned. She tends to struggle in my class, rarely has work done on time, and yet, there on the stage she was poised & graceful. She was in control. She was not the same girl I see every other day during block 5.

As I watched her, my brain was on fire with questions  – How do I bring out that girl in class? Second semester is about to start, why haven’t I yet? Where is that confidence? Where is she? And then, just like that, the answer: Fusion. Bring the two together. Fuse that energy and passion with what is happening in the classroom. Make her the center of her learning.

And with that, a decision was made.

I began flipping my advanced biology class last spring, and am evolving into #CoFlip (collaborative flipped learning) with the course this year. (Check out Andrew Thomasson’s recent post “How to Stop Collaboration” or Cheryl Morris’ “How to Start the Flip“). The experience I am having in flipping Advanced is like no other I have had in my 11 years teaching, but had some reservations about taking my College Prep (CP) Biology course that route.

Until I saw the difference.

In Me.

In My Students.

If I could watch myself in my Advanced class and myself in CP, I wouldn’t think it was the same teacher. In Advanced, I am interacting. I am discussing. I am questioning with my students. I am encouraged. In CP, I am talking at my students. I am rushing. I am telling. I am frustrated. In Advanced, my Students are interacting. They are collaborating. They are discussing and questioning. They are encouraged. In CP, my Students are arriving confused and unprepared.  They are not questioning. They are falling asleep. They are frustrated.

It’s a no brainer.

So here I am. Ready to work through my transition & work with my students to find in my class the girl I saw on stage Friday night. And while I may be alone in this at my school right now, I am not totally alone. I have my PLN. My #CFC. Cheryl, Carolyn, Karl, Andrew, Crystal, Delia, Audrey (and many others I encounter daily); I am thankful everyday for finding such amazing educators who challenge me to be better, and grateful that I am going to have the opportunity to get to know you all better as we bring to life our little project. It is, as Delia puts it, ‘Coflipilicious!’

I know this will be a difficult change, but it is a necessary change. At the end of the day, if I can honestly say I did what is best for my students, than that is all that counts.

So as I break the ice on sharing my journey, I look forward to the collaboration. The sharing.

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