13- Flippin’ Crazy?

7 Apr
This is my little rah-rah support team.  Pretty sure they don't feel neglected!

This is my little rah-rah support team. Pretty sure they don’t feel neglected!

I was in my office the other day when a colleague stopped by unexpectedly and began offering advice.  I always appreciate hearing different perspectives, but when he started telling me that I spend too much time flipping my classes and not enough time home with my kids, I had to struggle to maintain objectivity.  Perhaps his comments hit a nerve simply because I am (of course) engaged in the familiar, guilt-ridden battle between motherhood and career.  But I found it really interesting that he focused particularly on the FLIP.  So I spent some time thinking about the flip…and whether or not the time I’m investing in the pedagogy is WORTH IT.

While I do not in any way shape or form agree that I’m neglecting my family, I do agree that flipping my classes requires a ridiculous amount of time and I’m far from satisfied with the results. My list of complaints about my approach is lengthy.

  1. My video lectures are long and I tend to ramble.
  2. If I change the order in which I cover content, the video lectures end up filled with confusing references.
  3. Sometimes I say things that are incorrect…and these mistakes are on my PERMANENT record, unless I re-record the lectures!  Yikes.
  4. I’m a relatively new teacher and I always want to improve my stuff. Updating video lectures is really time consuming!
  5. Even with the amazing resources in the APS Life Science Teaching Resources Community, my class activities are sometimes too basic and become boring.
  6. My class activities are sometimes too complicated and become overwhelming.
  7. I never really feel like I have enough time to completely PREPARE for any week.
  8. I never EVER feel like I “nailed it.”  EVER.

So as my colleague criticized my priorities, I took a tired breath and wondered WHY I keep flipping.  But in spite of every single imperfection, I honestly cannot imagine going back to the traditional approach.  I get to assume my students have covered the content when they come into my class.  I feel good about holding them to a higher standard than I might otherwise.  And I love the opportunities to talk about the content in a curious and meaningful way, every single time I see them, because  I don’t have to “cover everything.”  I’ve already covered it!

The simple fact is that my students are more engaged now than they were before I started flipping.  Yes—it is far from perfect.  But I guess it is worth it to me.

3 Responses to “13- Flippin’ Crazy?”

  1. Linda Staffero April 7, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Wendy,
    You are a kind and reflective person….that is what I read from your comments. It is kind and reflective of you to consider what this person said to you. But, unless this person is a trusted Mentor and friend, my years of experience tells me that the comments were more about the person than about you. I find it difficult to comprehend that someone would say such a thing unless they were feeling something about themselves (my protective instincts are coming out for you on this). IMHO, watching you trying different way to teach to better engage your students, flip or not, has most likely “stirred” something is this person and have got them thinking….the first instinct is denial or to put it back someway on the person making you think about yourself (still in protective mode here). I hope I am not offending you but I sincerely think you have got this person thinking about how they teach. So keep stiring it up and be true to you and your teaching….I think that flows into all parts of your life, especially family.
    Be well my fellow Flipper
    Linda

    • Wendy Riggs April 7, 2014 at 8:44 pm #

      What a thoughtful response, Linda. I appreciate the kindness and the HUG that came through this comment. Maybe we can share the hug in person? Are you coming to Florida in May???!

  2. Linda Staffero April 7, 2014 at 10:55 pm #

    We will have to HUG virtually but I look forward to the real thing. I am glad my comment were supportive to you.

    I am not going to Florida this year and am opting for a conference called OnCourse in Costa Mesa, California. I have gone through the OnCourse trainings this year and thought it best to finish up with the National Conference. What is OnCourse? It is a method of active learning with the emphasis on student empowerment.

    http://oncourseworkshop.com/

    It is interesting to consider how to scaffold-in empowerment as you help them move to a flip learning environment. It was good training to get my ol professor mind to think about how to teach differently.

    Anyway, all my best, Linda

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