Smashing My Comfort Zone To Bits

Sometimes I worry I’ll get stuck in rut.

You know how it is? You get to school, consult your lesson plans, and think, “Yep, I’ve done all this before.”

Now, sometimes this can be comforting. If you been out of town over the weekend or been up late caring for a sick child, knowing that your lessons are under control can be very welcoming. We all need that sometimes. However, I also think we need to challenge ourselves to take our teaching to the next level.

So this sounds like it will be a post all about how I did something new and it was an amazing, life-altering success, doesn’t it? Well…surprise…going out of my comfort zone in Math is really causing me to struggle.

We are in our tenth year of the same math curriculum, and I could teach most of the lessons with my eyes shut. I can even name most of the lesson topic and their corresponding number by heart (Lesson 5.3? Estimating Sums…Just try to stump me…). I’ve always split my math lesson by ability into two groups and modified the lesson to fit the needs of that group. It works like a well-oiled machine.

But I want to go farther. I envision a math class with students all progressing at their own individual rates, with those who excel moving onto more challenging, above-grade-level materials, and those who need more support having hands-on experiences every single day.

Enter the flipped class model. It has intrigued me since I first read about it. I won’t take the time to re-explain here what a Google search could better explain. Feel free to check it out and come back.

So I videotaped some lessons and have tried to implement a modified flip, where some of my highest students watch a video instead of meet for the lesson with me. I love it, but I am struggling with it. In particular, I’m having some kids watch the video, not quite understand, and then start practicing the skill incorrectly. Then, when I meet with them to discuss, they have to unlearn their mistakes and relearn how the correct way. This is making me question who I should use the videos with, as well as the time structure of my lessons. I’m having to rework a lot of my usual pattern, and I haven’t quite found the right flow yet.

But I think it will come. I’ll be a better teacher when it does, and most importantly, my students will be learning and achieving more.

And if not? That’s okay too. I’ll keep exploring.

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About mrwhitehb

I teach 4th grade and am the chair of the Young Hoosier Book Award Committee for grades 4-6.

Posted on November 12, 2014, in Math. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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