Excuse me, I think I am having a revolution.

One year ago I embarked down a path without even so much as a hint on where it was going to take me.

I did know however beyond a shadow of a doubt, that something was “broken”  in my classroom. After 20 years, the tried and true tools in my teacher tool box were no longer working.

Frustratingly, I could not even fully articulate exactly what was broken, it was more just a gut feeling I had. The bottom line however, I was investing an immense amount of energy in maintaining the classroom as I had known it. I was fighting hard to hold on….and losing. 

I had seen the inspiring, philosophical and viral videos of the week (don’t get me wrong I LOVE those), tasted the flavours of the month and been peppered with all the buzz words; UBD, PBL, Rigor, AFL, Scaffolding, Collaboration, Rubrics, Failure is Not an Option and finally……drum roll please……. 21st Century Learning. I dutifully went to conferences, I listened, I read books, I ran technology club, I did ALL I could to figure it out.

I KNEW the world was changing. I knew it…. but no one, NO ONE, told me how to move from here to there. No one explained how I could SAFELY transition from this traditional content and results driven paradigm of yesterday’s system that had demanded in the first place that I build the skill set I now found myself with.

One year ago, 2 colleagues and I set off to Colorado and attended a Flip Class conference with Aaron Sams and Jon Bergman. This is where my revolution began.

They provided no script, no binder with lesson plan templates and no exact description of a Flip Class. At the time this was very puzzling.

I started making videos, I reworked my old units, I  screencast 90% of my Biology 12 course and loaded them on You Tube.

Now this may not sound like the start of a revolution, so I’ll say it again.

I screencast my course and uploaded to You Tube. I used the skills I already had in my tool box to re-invent myself.

This simple act provided me with an immediate and sturdy bridge to the future. My teacher time was repurposed, my role in the class redefined and my energies were freed from the tyranny of status quo maintenance. I safely transitioned from the “trapped outdated me”, to the “new connected, having a revolution me”. The Flip Class single-handed, disrupted old patterns I was trapped in: I saw my class new again.

 In growing into my role as a Flip Class teacher, I moved squarely back in charge and directly connected to my own learning.  I discovered my voice anew, one that I had started my career with, but had been eroded and diluted over time. My desire and ability to provide the same opportunity for my students grew; I did not need the flavour of the month or scripted lesson to catalyse change. I knew change, I had embraced change I had…changed.

Flip Class did not demand I change, nor did it tell me EXACTLY with excruciating and insulting detail, how I should. Flip Class trusted that with my experience, intuition, support and feedback of my PLN, students and self, figure my classroom out. The Flip Class nudged me gently, like a mother bear to her baby cub, to let go of what I knew to be true and to re-learn what it meant to be a teacher. I discovered that yes, even old dogs can learn new tricks. Flip Class gifted me the time, energy and inspiration to imagine, “no holds barred”: if you could build your class from the bottom up, what would you build?  

One year ago, I embarked on a journey… that lead to a personal revolution.

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9 thoughts on “Excuse me, I think I am having a revolution.

  1. Carolyn: This is a great post. It so goes along with what I am thinking about the flipped class lately. It isn’t the answer, it is the bridge, the gateway, to deeper learning. Thanks. Also–I would love to post this on my blog with you as a guest blogger. email me or tweet me if you would be interested.

  2. Carolyn, your story sounds very much like mine. I saw something new; something that didn’t require a complete overhaul of everything I did, but rather a shift in a new direction. By implementing the flipped classroom, I have started to include more inquiry and standard based grading, both of which would not have been possible with my previous teaching methods. It has given me the confidence to try new ideas and experiment, but more importantly, it has rekindled the fire that I had when I first started teaching. Keep up the great work!!

    • Marc, that is EXACTLY it!! It did not require a complete change but just enough to fix some of the challenges I was facing. I am similar to you as I have started down the path with SBG and inquiry, both things I in the pat would not even have considered. Amazing how one small but significant change can catalyse so much. I am excited to here that your experience is similar to mine. Appreciate the comment and your readership!

    • Hey Brian, Can’t really believe the power of sharing honestly and fully, as you call it. Even though it is “scary” to share out, it seems to have an amazing growing effect, just another great off shoot of my first full year in the Flip Class. Thanks for the comment and encouragement!

  3. Wow, Carolyn, what a great post! I have been feeling a lot of that recently, too, I guess because we are about the same “flip-age”! I like how you say that we already had these tools and skills, we’re just reordering in a way that makes more sense. Here is how I put it: I used to gaze through the window of a store that I really wanted to get into, and all I was missing was a key. Then I found a key. And it’s not about the key, it’s about what’s in the store!

    • Haha, love that Audrey, “flip-age” !! How perfect! Yes exactly, I so wanted into the store but felt so locked out and frustrated by it. It really was like magic when I discovered the key to get inside, it was a Eureka moment, as it just reordered what I was doing. Great store analogy, I’ll have to use that one! Thanks!!

  4. The photo of a new bridge being built (I think that’s what it is) shows a great visual of what this is all about. The thing I love about this whole flipping/reorganizing thing is that it doesn’t exclude the veteran teacher (if they can manage enough technology, they can still do what they do best), and yet also opens the door for new teachers. The bridge might be new, but it’s still connecting students with learning.

    • Hi Thomas, thanks for your comment. Yes, you are right that is a bridge, I really liked the image it invoked for me imagining moving towards the future. Yes, you are right again, I think the Flipped Class actually invites the veteran teacher rather than alienates them and allows them to leverage the skills they developed over the years. I found though once I had used those skills and put them to good use, I felt ready to embrace change with more enthusiasm.

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