Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Y'all, I'm flipping out.

It's a zillion degrees and that means a new school year is looming. Brand new in my role as a technology trainer, I panicked a little this week.  I've been worrying, "Will I have all the right answers? Do I really know enough?"

As usual, panic has not spurred me to action. It's had me zoned out in from of the Olympics with my iPad open to some educational tech story.  Fortunately, somewhere between reading about flipped classrooms and watching Gabby Douglas flip her way to gold, I remembered that I had my thinking all backwards.

You've heard of flipped classrooms, right? In a flipped class, the teacher videotapes her lecture and students watch it at home.  Then, during class, the teacher and students work together on practice problems and assignments.  I like the sound of this model because it makes the teacher a coach, watching the kids solve problems and correcting their form.

I'm not sure that the lecture is the only thing that needs to flip in the classroom. Ewan McIntosh gave a thoughtful and inspiring speech at TEDex London asking if the whole "problem-solving" mentality needs to flip as well.  Watch this clip below and think about the way gymnasts like Gaby learn and set goals.
(give it a second and you'll clue in to his accent)
McIntosh says, "I want a generation of young people who can go out into the world and find problems that need really solving and have the capacity to go out and start solving them."  I love how this way of thinking embraces failure, misdirection, and restarts. I love how it brings teachers, students, and the rest of the world into a community of learning, one where everyone can and should be contributing to their fullest potential.

And I really love how it lets me off the hook on the knowing-everything issue.  It just isn't my job to know all the answers: even if I did they might be answers to questions no one cares about. Helping teachers and students ask good questions, to listen to each other, and to hear from and interact with their community...that's my job.  I don't think that's too high a bar for me to flip over.
photo by Mike Blake, Reuters

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