It's been a crazy few weeks. After resigning from Redwood, I spent the summer job hunting and taking every opportunity I could to present about technology, flipclass, and the work I've done in my classroom and with Andrew - I was a faculty member on the #CueRockStar USS Hornet camp, I led a session on ShowMe and #flipclass at the Jewish Educators Conference, I attended (and presented at) #EdCampSFBay, I did some virtual presentations, some consulting work for Twitter and KQED's Do Now project...basically weeks of #EduAwesome people and learning.
So when I was offered a position back in my previous district, I jumped at it and signed on to teach English at a different high school - East Bay Arts HS. I also took on the Leadership class and program, which includes all the student government and activities for the year.
There have been lots of issues - not having the right student desks, having no access to the school network, including attendance and gradebook, and having a room that gets up to the 100 degree range pretty easily. The computer and technology situation isn't great (after a year of open wifi network and BYOD, it's hard to go back to not having it), and right now, they district won't even allow Chrome on the school computers (ARGH!!!!!).
But the teachers at the school are smart, and dedicated, and passionate about teaching. They have made the transition an easy one, and have given me support and encouragement to "do what I do."
It has made me reflect on what is really important in my practice. When you strip down to the core of flipped learning, it's about creating a dynamic, student-centred environment, where teachers create experiences that move students from passive recipients of knowledge to being responsible for their own learning. The technology we use (and talk about a lot!) is just a way of doing that. The other core principle for me is collaboration - teacher to teacher, student to student, and even teacher with student. Giving voice and choice only works if everyone is willing to work together and focus on learning together.
Frankly, I left behind a dysfunctional school that did more harm to students than good. I had students tell me that I was the first teacher who treated them like a human being, and the first teacher to get them passionate about learning, particularly, reading. That school should be completely pwning the STAR and CAHSEE, and yet they don't. Sure, the scores are good, but with students like the ones I had last year - and I'm referring to ALL OF THE STUDENTS - they should have been great. They had technology, money for resources, lots of courses...and students who were passive and who saw no place for their voice in their education.
EBA is not at all like that. Their test scores actually increased in every major subgroup (except for white kids...weird), including all the low-income and "at risk" demographics. The teachers love the students and advocate for them. They have NO resources, and have to fight to even get the school painted for the first time in a decade. The technology sucks, and the classrooms are hot.
But they are engaging students, and teaching them how to be a learner. And I get to be a part of that.
So I ended my first day with students by stepping back from the frustrations and exhaustion and being thankful that, while it's not perfect, I am in a school that has the same values I do, and treats students as human beings. And that is SO worth it.
I'd still like an open wifi network though.