Thursday, May 30, 2013

A Strange #flipclass Benefit

My last day of school was today. Well, my last day with students was today. I have a teacher workday tomorrow and three days of voluntary PD that I’ll be attending next week but I won’t see my kiddos again (I loop with my students and have them again next year) until mid-August. The reflections from my year in a self-paced mastery based classroom will come out in bits and pieces. Here’s an initial one that I realized today.

Yes, in a self-paced classroom all I do on self-paced workdays (about 60-70% of the time) is walk around and talk to students. It’s freaking awesome. Answer questions, check-in about a piano recital or soccer game, maybe some small group instruction if a group of students are struggling on the same thing. As I’ve written before, I got to know students very quickly this year, both as people and as students.

But on to the realization. I think, because I’ve gotten to know students pretty darn well this year because I’ve spent more time than ever before talking to them, that I am hearing more negative feedback and concerns than I have in the past. Yes, I’m sure there is a ton of negative feedback I’m not hearing - I’m not delusional. But I think, just because of the sheer number of conversations I’ve had with kids this year, they have gotten more comfortable being honest with me.

Two students came in after the last final today: one that regularly challenges me on why I do things the way I do them and one that I haven’t heard a ton of negative feedback from. After some small talk, the regular said, “Come on, dude. Just tell him.” And so this student explained the issue they had with my class.

And it was great! Not that they had an issue, but that they felt comfortable sharing it. Because if you want to push on what a classroom is and what a classroom can be - in the name of creating a more student-centered classroom - there will be mistakes made (that blog post is coming) and students might be uncomfortable with all or some of the changes. And if you want to make your classroom student-centered, student concerns better be heard and addressed! So much the better that those concerns get shared with me - or that more of them get shared with me than in the past.

And that - hearing more student concerns and negative feedback - is unexpected flipclass benefit #1.