— Jake Habegger —
Over the past few years since flipping my classroom, I’ve begun to look at the world differently. What seemed impossible before I flipped now happens seamlessly. I recently read the book Originals by Adam Grant, which has profoundly affected the way I think about conformity and originality in the classroom. Having this “flipped mindset” has allowed me to look at this book through a new lens.
One compelling concept of the book is about challenging the status quo — “Why do I do anything the way I do it?” Earlier in my teaching career, I wouldn’t have questioned many aspects of teaching — it was just “how it worked.” You stand in front of students, they take notes, throw in an activity every once in a while, and then give a test. Repeat. My form of challenging years ago was to teach in “down to earth language” to my students about ideas, or I would create a project that made my students think creatively. At the time, I would have graded my creativity as an 8 or 9. Since flipping, my views of what is possible made me change that score to a solid 4. Some flipped teachers like Dan Jones have even gone as far as to question and throw out traditional summative assessments, replacing them with PBL (Project-Based Learning) assignments, grading presentations that show student knowledge through creative, student-designed projects. For me, believing it was possible to have all students individually make mastery on assignments before moving on while having an asynchronous classroom wouldn’t have even registered as a dream!
My challenge is a simple one, but one that also requires a blank canvas view of education: Why do I ______? If the answer is, “That’s how I was taught”, “I’ve always done it that way,” or even, “That’s just part of teaching”, it is a red flag to me. This doesn’t mean that it is the wrong thing to do; instead, it means that I need to question if there could be a better way to connect to my students, increase engagement, incorporate more differentiation, etc. When we go rogue like this, it means we must look for answers that are outside the box. They will not be obvious — if it was, most teachers would have stumbled upon it by now! As you reflect on how you teach, always keep an open mind to challenging the status quo in hopes of better reaching every student, every day!