Please discuss your strengths in instructional practice. What would you like to improve on relative to your instructional practice? Please reflect on the progress you have made towards your goals this year.KHS Reflection Prompt – 2019
Wrapping up the third quarter, I’m feeling like there is no way we’re this close to the end of the school year. In all of my 16 years in the classroom, I have never felt this disjointed or disconnected or short on time in my classes as I do this year. For every step forward we take, something moves us two steps back. Looking back, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why this is the case; Could be the snow days. Could be the delayed starts. Could be the various major events (good and bad) we’ve had as a school. Could be the way students approach their education today. Could be….could be….could be…. The truth is, if I look back over the last several years, the continuity of my courses has never really felt right since we made the switch to the alternating schedule (but that is another post all together) and if I’ve learned anything over my years as a biology teacher (and a gymnast) – adaptation is the key to survival, and flexibility is the key to not breaking your neck.
My instructional practice made a major evolutionary shift in 2012 when I started flipping my classes. Seven years later, it’s no longer something new that I do, it is simply the way I teach – but I realized pretty quickly that it isn’t all about the videos (as most of us who have been with this movement since the beginning realized pretty quickly) and we’ve come to understand that flipped learning is really about the time together in class that counts: It’s the face-to-face time. It’s the allowance for the questions and for digging deeper. It’s the shift in who is responsible for the learning in the classroom. It’s about stepping back, and letting my students struggle to figure something out. It’s taking that one or two minutes to find out if they found the perfect pair of shoes over the weekend. It’s watching them discover the pride in owning their work and what they know. All in all – this practice is frustrating and maddening and I’ve definitely worked harder these last 7 years that I ever did in my first 9, but I know in my core that this is the best way for my students (even when it takes them two years to finally figure it out).
As we shift to CBE, I’m thrilled I made this change. Flipped learning suits CBE and supports student centered learning, so I don’t foresee any major changes in my personal approach happening as we move forward. My goals this year were wrapped into this connection, and while the NEASC report has taken the majority of our time (so good to be done with our report!), our PLC has started working towards developing QPAs in earnest. I’m seeing how my work in flipped learning (especially in how content is delivered) will allow for the time needed to bring more authentic QPAs into my courses. But we are still in discussions on what they really should look like in bio. The examples we’ve seen don’t look any different than what we do in labs and lab practical experiences – so this has us shaking our heads a bit. I hope as we move beyond NEASC, our PLC can really focus on this and build something cool for our students. The CP course needs a big overhaul – and now that we have our department competencies established, we can really start digging in.
But in the mean time, there’s still one quarter to go (and I hope that is the last time I’ll be saying that as we move to semesters next year – woohoo!!).