"What is the most valuable use of your face-to-face time with your students?"
- Jon Bergmann
Disclosure: My attendance at EduTECH 2017 was through a media pass provided by the organisers.
In 2014 whilst on my final professional experience placement as part of my initial teacher education, my supervising teacher was exploring flipped learning. We had a chat about his understanding of what it was, how it worked, and how he was modifying things to suit his class. That particular class was a combined Year Five and Six class and he was using what I now know is in-flipping. The experience was enough to whet my appetite and so when I saw that Jon Bergmann was running a masterclass on flipped learning as part of the FutureSchools conference the following year (read my review of that masterclass here), I registered and began my journey down the flipped learning rabbit hole.
As my regular readers would be aware, I am now employed with ClickView, whose core business plays neatly into flipped learning. As part of their sponsorship package woth EduTECH this year, they were able to run three thirty-minute breakout sessions, and asked me to run them on flipped learning. It would have been very easy to talk for thirty minutes about flipped learning from a ClickView perspective, however, as a teacher I know how annoyed I have been to have been given a sales pitch in the breakout session. It would also have been incredibly simple to spend the thirty minutes explaining what flipped learning is and why it is so useful as a paradigm for education. Again, as a teacher I would have been annoyed to have been given a presentation in a breakout session which had nothing I could take away and put into practice and so I decided to flip the breakout session, recording the below pre-learning video.
The above video is a very brief introduction to the why and what of flipped learning, however, there is enough in there to give anyone watching it a basic understanding. This meant that in the breakout session, Josh Aghion and I could spend the entirety of the session focused on the how of flipped learning. The reason I wanted to do that is that I wanted the audience to have an understanding that flipped learning can be easy, can be cheap to implement both financially and in regards to time, and that there are plenty of resources to support their learning as they develop their flipped classroom skills.
During each of the breakout sessions, I spoke about the general workflow of flipping your classroom. As part of this component, Josh actually provided two live demonstrations of creating flipped content. One was done using some screencapture software called Camtasia (my preferred tool) and we spoke about Screencastomatic as a free alternative. Josh recorded a short demonstration clip (less than two minutes long) from a slide deck we had prepared on adding with decimals which would then be able to be used immediately in class. The other live demonstration that we did was recording something using a smartphone or tablet whilst writing on a whiteboard or similar. Again, this video was less than two minutes long, but still got the key learning objective across and was very easy to do. We also showed some prerecorded videos showing other options for developing flipped learning video content; a video by Matt Burns using a document camera, a video using a forwardboard by Heather Davis, and a video recording of physical action by InnovativeTraining4All that I have actually used the last two years to teach students how to play (modified) Tic Tac Toe.
I was incredibly nervous leading up to the first breakout session as I knew that it was scheduled to be a packed house and it was an unfamiliar environment to present in. There was also the (self) added pressure of there being people in the room that I knew. That said, I feel like each of the sessions went well. The live demonstrations went off without a hitch, I did not get too caught up and stumble over my words, the slide deck was all in the correct order, and we finished the presentation with about approximately ten minutes to spare. There were a few questions proffered by audeince members in each session, however, people were able to leave with about five minutes to go before the scheduled end of the session which I think was a nice change from many sessions where you are busy checking your watching and internally wishing the presenter would hurry up. A number of people came up to myself or Josh after each session to ask specific questions and as we had finished early we were able to spend the time with them answering those questions.
I realised when I returned to my hotel room that night that I had forgotten to talk about one important potential use for flipped learning and that is for our own professional development. I made a short comment about it over Periscope that night. I also realised, after I was asked about flipping in infants classes on Twitter that afternoon that I had completely forgotten to speak about in flip vs out flip and so made a slightly longer comment over Periscope on the weekend about flipping in an infants class.
I was chuffed to hear that after each breakout session there was a mini influx to the ClickVIew stand of people wanting to know more about the Forwardboard. The plans for my forwardboard, the one on the ClickVIew stand, are freely available here and includes a list of materials and costings, a time lapse video of the construction process, and step by step instructions. As I mentioned in the sessions, mine cost me $315 in materials and about three hours of labour to make. A second set of hands is helpful or needed at a few points, but it is a fairly easy process and would potentially make a good project for a senior TAS class. You can see an example here of what a video looks like as raw footage and as finalised footage here.
It was also exciting to see and hear the impact of the presentation. James Gray tweeted that he had gone home and made his first flipped video and another came to ask me some questions and had her daughter (currently in Year Six) who wanted to know how she could convince her teacher to use flipped learning. We are in the process of organising an interview as I want to hear more from mother and child about their perspectives on flipped learning.
I personally feel like the breakout sessions were a success. The feedback has been largely positive (though if you do have constructive feedback, please let me know), and the conversations on Twitter that I have had as a result have also been positive with people wanting to know more.
If you do want to learn more abuot flipped learning, I have restructured my Starting with Fipped Learning page to be more user-friendly with distinct sections. It has a range of other resources that you will find useful, including review articles from FlipCon 2016 and 2015. I am also in the process of planning more videos on the how side of flipped learning. Additionally, if you have not done so I highly encourage you to undertake the Flipped Learning Certification as it is a very comprehensive prorgam that covers all areas of flipped learning.
Josh and myself are planning to run a day during the holidays for teachers to book a half-hour timeslot to visit the ClickView office and record some content using the forward board. THe date we have set aside is Thursday 13 July and will initially be offered to those who registered for the breakout sessions and they will be contacted once we have details finalised; though it will of course be first in best dressed.
If you are not from Sydney and therefore unable to make it for that day, we are looking at doing something similar in Brisbane and Melbourne, as well as developing some Flipped Learning Masterclass sessions that we can offer. Stay tuned as we will let you know through various channels when those details are finalised.
Thank you for reading this article. If you have missed any of the articles in this EduTECH 2017 series, you can find the complete list here.
“Giving is the master key to success, in all applications of human life.”
- Attributed to Bryant McGill
One of the attractive components of the offer to work with ClickView was being able to facilitate professional learning in an area of pedagogical practice that I enjoy, am passionate about and that I think I am good at, using video content as an effective tool for learning. I have been involved thus far in two formal professional learning sessions and they have both been fantastic.
The first was an after school opt-in session, which meant that although there were only ten staff present, they were staff who wanted to engage with us and learn more. There were plenty of "ooooh, that is how you do that" moments, and the excitement in the air was palpable. That particular session was also a great session for me to view as it was facilitated by my direct manager who is proving to be a wealth of knowledge about the platform, processes and system underpinning ClickView, the clients, but also providing a steady influence in what has been a heady first week. His calm and deliberately paced way of speaking has proved to be a useful brake on my own first-week nerves and my desire to get on top of and understand everything yesterday.
It was also the first time that I had had the opportunity to see the teacher-side of ClickView which meant that for my own knowledge of the platform, it was an invaluable session. With my teacher hat on, I can definitely understand the attraction of the platform and why teachers want to use it.
The second session, which was today, was another opt-in session, but aimed at Primary Teachers. This session was organised and led by the Primary Team and was delivered in a rotating workshop format focusing on three areas: being able to search for and access content, being able to turn the content into interactive learning tools for students, and lastly, as an introduction to flipped learning. That was the aspect they asked me to come along and help out with, and it was a great learning curve. I really need to improve the succinctness and clarity of my this is what flipped learning is all about. Each of the three sessions heard a slightly different explanation and while none of them were wrong, I feel that I could have had a clearer delivery. This was somewhat frustrating for me as I have delivered the same presentation in seven minutes as part of a TeachMeet event.
That said, there were a total of, I think, twenty-three staff from the host school and a number of others in the area, all of whom engaged wholeheartedly with the sessions. Seeing the excitement in a student's eyes as they have a light bulb moment is still exciting, even if it is in a different context. Being able to help deliver professional learning to teachers who are engaged with and want to hear what you have to say is fantastic and exciting.
I fly out to Melbourne tomorrow to meet the Melbourne team and then for the remainder of the week, attend FutureSchools 2017, which I am excited for. I am hoping that Melbourne is a bit cooler and less humid as I am struggling with the oppressively humid conditions in Sydney at the moment.
I look forward to meeting up with some of my readers whilst in Melbourne, and if you are unable to attend, stay in touch using #FutureSchools on Twitter. If you have missed any articles in the FutureSchools series, you can find them here.
"If we are paying attention to our lives, we'll recognise those defining moments. The challenge for so many of us is that we are so deep into daily distractions and 'being busy, busy' that we miss out on those moments and opportunities that - if jumped on - would get our careers and personal lives to a whole new level of wow."
- Attributed to Robin S. Sharma
As you read this article, I will be drawing close to the end of day two with ClickView, however, as I write this, I am on the train on my way in for the start of day two. Yesterday was a huge day. It felt very bizarre to get up at my usual time, go through my usual morning routines, but then not go to school. It felt eerie to be sitting at a café in Pyrmont at 7:30 am working on the day’s article (read it here), rather than sitting in my classroom getting books and learning stations ready for the first session (literacy groups) of the day with my Stage One students.
That said, my first day with ClickView was incredible. Describing it as a whirlwind is, I think, an apt description. But it also is not a necessarily accurate description. I arrived in the office to a welcome pack with equipment (phone, laptop, business cards etc.) and resources (brochures, flyers, a t-shirt) and to “let’s get a coffee.” The plan for the day and overall for the week was laid out and then it was a series of quick introductions to as many people in the office who weren’t on the phone, or clearly focused on a particular task, which revealed that a significant number of people in the company had watched my Periscope last Wednesday and had read or seen my Twitter account or website. Rather humbling (and, if I am being honest, embarrassing), however, I believe that it will go a long way towards helping form the initial relationships, providing a starting point.
A series of meetings and training sessions that provided me with a starting point to understand the various software I will be using followed, as well as an overview of where to find my various data points. I have to admit to getting a little excited when I saw the richness of the data and already have a few ways I want to manipulate it to show me patterns and trends. Mrs. C21 calls me a weirdo for enjoying data. I will wear that label happily.
Lunch with a number of new colleagues and key players whom I will need to have strong relationships with to be successful followed and that almost felt like another interview, yet the questions were more…intellectually probing and it felt nice to have discussions about pedagogy, emerging trends and potential future trends or directions for education and where flipped learning and video content fits into that. Professionally stimulating I feel is an accurate description.
The afternoon was spent learning more about the team of which I am a part, what the important pieces of data are that I need to focus on amidst the plethora that is available, the agenda for the next day (today as I write) vis-à-vis meetings and how they will flow as well as a general debrief from the day.
At each point, there was a genuine interest in making sure I was getting the information I needed without being overwhelmed, at ensuring that I had questions answered satisfactorily and that I knew what was going on in general. I was given a where we have come from and why session with the CEO going over the history of the company which, although it perhaps sounds mundane and rote, was actually quite interesting and did help to contextualise some of the terminology, technology and what I have gleaned of the current and future direction of the company.
While it was a long day (I did not arrive home until 8:30 pm) and I did not get to see my daughter at all, Mrs. C21 and I are both aware and understand that the first day is always going to be a bit different, a bit longer and that there will be days where I am home comparatively early. When I got home, however, I was home and was able to go to bed not worrying about lesson plans, marking, students, parent concerns about their child, or school politics, and that alone, and the already felt reduced stress levels has made the transition out of the classroom worthwhile.
As always, thank you for reading and I look forward to hopefully meeting some of you at FutureSchools 2017 which takes place in Melbourne next week. If you have missed any of the articles I have written for that thus far, please click here.List of Blog Series
"There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them."
-Attributed to Denis Waitley
If you do not feel like reading a long-ish article, there is a tl;dr summary at the end.
In 2014 I completed my initial teaching education, having been awarded both Honours Class I and the Faculty Medal. I was then asked to write and deliver the Graduate Address at our graduation ceremony in July 2015.
I still feel about teaching the way that I did then. My Teaching Philosophy still accurately sums up why I believe in the public education system and why I want to teach. I still find great joy in seeing my students' faces light up when they get it after grappling with some new concept or skill. I thoroughly enjoyed working with my Stage Three students last year and enjoy that they still put their hands up for a high-five whenever I pass them in the corridor or the playground. This year, I am enjoying Stage One more than I thought that I would and am learning an incredible amount from my team-teaching colleague.
So why then, am I leaving classroom teaching?
I was aware, going into teaching, that it was not the nine-to-five profession that appears to be the belief in society; that there was paperwork, marking, planning, excursions, parent-teacher interviews and politics. What I did not realise, and what I do not think anybody is capable of realising until you are waist-deep in teaching is just how pervasive and all-consuming teaching is and can be. It is hard enough to feel the need to be in my room at six in the morning in order to get things set up for the day, to work out what writing groups my students need to be in today based on their writing from yesterday, to decide which students need to move up a reading level, what strategy am I going to use to engage a challenging student, and and at the end of Wednesday, to get the room tidied, the marking done and the notes up to date for my job-share partner to take over on Thursday.
To then be feeling guilty on the weekend for not getting the things I could be doing, or getting a head start on, when I should simply be enjoying time with my wife and daughter during these beautiful moments of infant joy (she is so close to crawling, and her belly laugh is the sound of pure joy) while they are there, is not how life should be lived.
In 2012 I completed my first professional experience placement. It was in a Year Six class and was actually at my current school. It was a steep learning curve, but for the first time in my adult life, I felt like I was in the right place professionally.
In 2015 and 2016, I was employed on a temporary basis, for four days a week as an RFF teacher in 2015 and three days a week in a job-share arrangement on Stage Three. We got by financially as Mrs. C21 was employed full-time. As my regular readers would be aware, however, our amazingly bright and bubbly baby girl was born in August last year, and thus we are now relying solely on my 0.6 FTE wage. It is not working.
The last few years have been challenging at my school as well. I was offered the temporary contract in 2015 as the Librarian was on long-term sick leave and ended up passing away during the Semester One holidays. I got to be that guy who took over her space and her role. No-one ever said, nor gave even a hint of negativity about me being in that role in the library. Everyone was welcoming and helpful. Despite that, I personally felt awkward and struggled with being in the Librarian's shadow and did not feel that I could really make the space my own, leaving everything up on the walls that was already there and not even going into the Librarian's office except to add library specific items to a pile.
I was offered another temporary contract for 2016, and though I was thankful to have a set class rather than be working in an RFF capacity, being employed for only three days a week was frustrating. It tightened up the options for casual work, and made it difficult to get really thoroughly and deeply stuck into anything. I did, however, learn a lot about my practice and formed some strong relationships with my students and I am proud of what I achieved last year with them, especially when I see the growth in the start of year vs end of year testing data
Additionally, the school has been undergoing a significant building project in order to remove the twelve demountable buildings and return the playground to the students to...you know, play on over the last two years. It has been a cause of significant stress, frustration, worry, and excitement across the staff. The building is now complete with only the final touches of the new playground spaces left. The teachers in those spaces are excited about the potential for what they can achieve and the new library has a new librarian who is doing an amazing job setting up after the school has been without an active library for a few years. Oh, we also had a new Principal start at the beginning of last year and multiple staff retirements which has generated a lot of change as well.
This year I was offered another three-days-per-week job-share arrangement, in a team -teaching context....in the old library. To be fair, it has been structurally changed insofar as the walls dividing the building into library/office/computer lab were removed, making it one big open space. I was apprehensive about being back in their again, however, I am confident, and have been told by some of the staff, that the previous Librarian would be proud as punch to see the space as it is now and to see the students busily working, learning and enjoying the space.
In addition to the work involved in teaching, there is also the time spent writing these articles, making the FTPL videos, and attending conferences to consider, which although separate to my teaching, I consider integral to my teaching persona. All of that wrapped up together is the context from which Mrs. C21 and I made the decision that it was time to leave classroom teaching.
A few weeks ago, I received a message from a HR Manager who said they wanted to chat to me about a position they were advertising and for which they felt I might be a good fit. It seemed to be completely out of the blue and gave enough information to have me curious and so we e-mailed back and forth over the weekend discussing some basic details of the company and the role. Things continued to move along and after some more phone-calls, Skype video-calls, a face-to-face meeting, and further e-mails and phone calls, I was formally offered a full-time, permanent position with the company.
Full time. Permanent.
Those words are like gold to a casual or temporary teacher. Mrs. C21 and I spent many hours during the whole process discussing the role, the potential, the status quo, the challenges that this role would present to me personally and us as a family and how to negotiate those challenges, and whether it was going to be good for us as a family and what the ramifications for me professionally might be. Ultimately, however, I accepted the offer to join ClickView as their NSW/ACT Education Account Advisor. In essence, I will be working with teachers to provide training, support and professional learning in schools using ClickView across NSW and the ACT.
I was asked if I would miss the classroom and I absolutely will. Over the course of the e-mails, phone and Skype calls, and face-to-face meetings, however, I gained the belief that from a certain point of view, I am not leaving the classroom per se. I may not be standing in front of a room of students, but I will still be present through the teachers with whom I work. One of my personal goals as a teacher is to be able to look back and know that I have had a positive impact on the lives of my students, to be remembered with the fondness that Ms. Flexer was remembered by her students. I can certainly achieve that in my current role in the classroom. This new role gives me scope to scale that impact, and though I may not have the connections with students that I currently do, I will be able to positively influence their lives through my work with teachers.
I also feel that over the last six to twelve months that I have been at a cross roads in my teaching career. I enjoy being in the class and working with my students. I have also found that I thoroughly enjoy being able to work with colleagues to deliver professional learning opportunities and I feel that I am more comfortable and confident in that scope. I also thoroughly enjoy engaging with research and data, and miss being absorbed in reading and writing. This role, along with giving me stability and security of employment, allows me to continue to engage with education in those same three areas, whilst being encouraged to grow and develop in particular areas that interest me professionally and with scope to be creative. I said during the face-to-face meeting, and I genuinely believe it, that although this role would see me leaving the classroom, I do not feel that I am leaving teaching. I am still working with students and teachers, it is just a different context.
I will be sad to leave my current school. I had my first professional experience there, my first excursion, my first class and I feel that I am leaving positively. I am grateful to the support and encouragement of my job-share partners of this year and last year, to my team-teacher who has been a fount of professional learning so far this term, to my mentor who allowed me to blather on about whatever it was that had me excited/frustrated/tired/annoyed/cynical/worried and offered her advice and guidance, humbly and patiently.
I am looking forward to not having the will I be offered another contract for next year stress, which normally begins to set in around the start of Term Three. I am relieved that we won't be continuing to go backwards financially and the incumbent stress of being in that position. I look forward to not feeling guilty for not working on the weekends or at night. I am excited for this new journey. But most importantly, I am excited that when I am home, that I will be able to be more present with my family, that I will not miss important milestones because I am too busy programming / planning / marking / writing reports / writing rubrics / spending money on resources for the science lesson. My wife is certainly incredibly happy about me being more present than I am at the moment.
Ultimately, I had to make a decision based on what was best for my family. It just so happens that it also provides an incredible opportunity professionally. My final day in my classroom will be tomorrow, Wednesday 8 March.
As always, thank you for reading.
The tl;dr version is that I was offered a permanent, full-time position with ClickView and it is in the best interests of my family and I to take it, so I have.