This is a good moment (and an appropriate #flipblogs topic) for me to reflect on what's working well IN STARK CONTRAST with how I felt 12 months ago. I blogged earlier about my crazy 2016-17 school year; peruse that if you want more details. There are no posts from October 2016 because I felt too frazzled to blog about it, though I scribbled plenty in a notebook journal!
- Last year I had terrible in-class support staff. Most of my classes have at least 5 (sometimes 10) students with diagnosed disabilities and special ed services. To do what we need to do during active-learning class time, I need teaching assistants with strong instincts and approachable personalities. That might not be a big deal for everybody, but it's essential for me at my school.
- Choosing a viable format for video lessons is crucial. I have dinked around so many times with trying various models, and wasted too much time thinking about "what's the best way to teach X?" when I should have focused on the class activities instead. Now I have just 2 formats: a faceless animated slideshow with narration OR "talking-head" live show with historical 'characters'. Those years of video experimentation have finally paid off with confidence in effective presentation.
- I can't stress enough to need for adequate technical support. We are blessed with 8 laptop carts in my middle school of 550 students. Yeah I suppose we are spoiled, but in 2017 computer access just seems essential. I host a laptop cart during our study-hall period, and quite often the room gets full of students doing digital work. I vaguely hear my own voice escaping many students' headphones/earbuds as they watch my video lessons. That's pretty cool. But most importantly I can feel confident that students have multiple opportunities to view the lesson, and if they're not ready on the due-date I can hook them up quite easily.
That's all I can think of right now. Trying for shorter #flipblog presentations!