All the motivated, hard working educators I met at the FlipTech 2018 conference this past weekend reminded me again and again of these vital truths: Teaching (as it should be) is NOT all about delivering content, and learning should NOT be about passing some damned test. Yet, too often, in too many classrooms and courses, we're not stretching much beyond those fundamental models. We can do better. Students can learn, be engaged, be empowered and given choice, and pass standardized test.
Thankfully, many teachers are willing to take the time and effort to keep working to up their game, to model lifelong learning (as we should), and to work hard to continuously improve at what they do.
I was fortunate to connect with so many amazing educators at the inaugural FlipTech conference at Collingswood High School in New Jersey. We shared our concerns and issues, taught each other about techniques and tools, and explored different ways that colleagues have approached both new and old ideas.
Over the course of the two days, we had so many interesting, rich discussions about many opportunities and many challenges. Here are some of those topics, in no particular order (I linked many of these to articles I've written on these subjects over the years):
- The vital importance of active learning
- The move towards mastery learning
- The ongoing challenge of changing the system
- Student Centered Learning (the flipped learning ‘tribe' is all about student centered learning)
- The power of Project Based Learning to fundamentally alter teaching and learning
- The challenges of standards based grading
- The value of freeing up class time by digitizing content for consumption outside of class
- The importance of striving to ensure that digital content is engaging
- Gamified flipped learning
- Collaborative group learning in the flipped classroom
- Universal Design for Learning
- The importance of providing students choices as part of a larger effort to encourage self-driven learning
- The value to raising student curiosity before engaging them in content consumption
We also watched the documentary Most Likely to Succeed, which was both pretty amazing (I wish it was easier for individuals to be able to watch online somewhere, but that doesn't seem to be the case, it does not appear to be generally available). This did lead me to the book, What School Could Be, which I have purchased and look forward to reading and writing about here.
Spending time with (as well as reading or watching) passionate educators who devote their time and energy to changing their classrooms and helping their students succeed, and who are gradually chipping away at the moldering old monument that is our too-slow-to-change school system, fills me with the strength to keep pushing, striving, and sharing.
Who knows if these efforts will ultimately lead to systemic improvements, but nothing is going to change if we don't try. In the meanwhile, making school a better experience that is more engaging for our student's and helps them grow is so much more than worth the effort.
I hope some of these words inspire you to keep the dream alive and keep pushing for improvements in our educational system, in your school, and in your own classroom.
In the meanwhile, grab a copy of the image at the top of this post and share it via social media to help make a statement and support someone else who needs to hear that they are not alone in the struggle …