One of my biggest goals in my flipped class this semester was to improve the quality of the in-class activities that took place during “lecture”. This goal guided the workshops I attended at the annual conference in May, and I came home inspired by POGIL, external brains, and many ideas for interesting case studies. In the past, class activities revolved mostly around answering student questions that they wrote on the board before class began. I usually tried to create some sort of “on the fly” task around these student-generated questions so that they were interacting more with each other than me, but I was frustrated by the many students who were still failing to truly engage with the material. After much thought, I decided to make use of clickers to facilitate student engagement and accountability, and vowed to compile engaging, interesting, challenging, clicker-ific activities for every lecture. As usual, I underestimated the amount of time it would take to develop these activities…it was only my third class when I was bashed up side the head by that two by four labeled “More Preparation Time Needed!”
Let me start by saying that the night before the two by four contacted my skull, instead of preparing for a truly clicker-ific class, I was watching Humboldt county native Sara Bareilles in concert (full disclosure). So I arrived to class the next morning a little blissed out from the performance and I relied on clicker questions I’d composed (but not reviewed) earlier that weekend.
Well. Let’s just say that we reviewed those questions in great depth during class, quickly discovering that not only were many of my clicker questions flat out WRONG, but I really hadn’t even been thoughtful about the topics I was choosing to emphasize. My students were confused, I was confused…it was a mini-train wreck (and a very public one).
Now I know, in my brain, that I am not a perfect instructor…and I know that my students already know this…and I know that no one really knows everything (except for all you brilliant HAPSters on the listserv who always answer all my questions), but that certainly doesn’t make it any easier to face those utterly public moments when I prove, beyond all shadow of a doubt, that I am not even a little bit close to perfect. But the next day, when I apologized to my students for the baby fiasco that was the previous class, I took a moment to explain to them what they were getting from me because of the flip. They had accessible lectures that they could watch whenever and however they chose. They had daily access to low stakes opportunities to check their understanding and apply their new knowledge to clinical scenarios. They had chance after chance to practice the skills they would need on quizzes and exams. And in exchange? They are the guinea pigs that are helping to build and improve my course.