For most of my colleagues, the first day back to class meant hiding out, staying isolated all day, learning new names, handing out syllabi, just surviving.
And even though I had five brand new classes that started today, it was a day of really meaningful connection. I intentionally got out of my classroom to talk to a few colleagues and had some great (short) conversations with them.
I also got to speak to every one of my new students (all 152 of them!) at least twice, and often five to six times in the class period. I don't know their names yet, but I have seating charts with preferred names filled out and group pictures so I can try to learn them faster than last semester (I'm pretty sure I was still guessing on names in the 6th week...remembering that many new names in 50 minute periods just doesn't work for me I guess). I ha former students drop in to say hi. The best ones were when 6th period was about to start, and a whole group of my former 6th period students walked by - they wouldn't stop telling the newbies how lucky they were, and how they wished they could switch with them.
But the amazing thing was tonight. For about 90 minutes, Andrew and I had the pleasure of being a part of the largest gathering of English flipped learning teachers that we know about. Here's the line-up:
- Me, 11-12th grade, California
- Andrew Thomasson, 10th grade, North Carolina
- April Gudenrath, 9-12 IB, Colorado
- Kate Baker, 9th/12th grade, New Jersey
- Katie Regan, 10th grade, New York
- Shari Sloane, Alternative school environment, New York
- Sam Patterson, 9th grade, California
- Dave Constant, HS, Connecticut
- Troy Cockrum, 7th-8th, Indiana
The amount of knowledge in that room is just absolutely incredible. I learned so much just from being there and listening. It reminds me of just how much we really need each other and how important it is to work with each other, but also just to connect and be friends. We need both.
The most amazing thing is that all this time, there has been another collaborative partnership - Katie and Shari - in the English Flipped world. It seems that Katie and I play a similar role, and Andrew and Shari play a similar role in the way we work together.
As Andrew and I debriefed the conversation, we were struck by just how much we know, but how much we don't know. None of our flipped classes look the same. We all flip writing to some degree, but it looks different in every context, every classroom, every video. Reading is a much more open field with far fewer answers.
We recorded the conversation and will be posting it soon. I hope more people can learn with us. As Andrew says, we may know stuff and may be "defacto experts" but we are learning as we go.
If you're interested in joining us for one of these conversations, let us know either here on the blog or by finding us on twitter. Maybe we can fill the room a little bit more next time.