FLIP Fails #7: The Upward Climb

Why have I not been blogging?

In my previous blog I discussed 3 reasons that I had been missing in action from blogging, vlogging, podcasting, and a little sparse on social media.  This pandemic situation and associated professional situations had left me in disappointment and dread professionally.  Like all valleys in life there are choices we made to be there and there were situations beyond our control.  Likewise climbing out of those valleys is a choice.  Our choice to climb does not change our situation, only our outlook on our situation, and in turn our response to it.  In retrospect this change was a long time in coming, I was just the last to know.

Excuse #4: I am too busy

This got real true real fast.

I am in charge of a post graduation lock-in…normally. I help the kids design and sell their senior t-shirts as a fundraiser, and rather than do it as a fundraiser this year I would give each one a t-shirt to celebrate their truncated senior year. I plodded along on this project out of tradition and as a way to use funds I had raised for the benefit of the seniors in lieu of a party. 

But then…

I was given a name and a phone number about 3 weeks into our remote learning days.  After a phone call with a very nice fella about a job I wasn’t looking for, I spent the weekend gathering the paperwork and references he needed.  I got serious about those grad classes I had been meaning to work on to help soften the economic hit. I also began to allow myself to look at the opportunity for professional health.

The t-shirt project mentioned earlier was kicked into high gear.  Another project for the seniors was stalled due to “district concerns”, so I grabbed this project, ordered the yard signs, rounded up some secret “Senior Santas” help, and developed delivery instructions for the “sleighs”. 

By this point AP had announced what they were doing for this year’s tests, so there were review videos and test instruction videos to make.  I also really dug into the AP Classroom, the absolute worst website ever IMHO, to help provide more resources for my AP seniors who had taken the district’s low expectations to heart. News flash: Kids will generally do what the adults expect of them and as great as they are will rarely place future benefit over the opportunities of now. 

On top of this I was still adapting and adjusting coursework for all of my classes as we were finally allowed to present “new” material rather than be limited to only ‘review’ content.  I did find that some classes needed more adjustment than others to meet the needs of students, but that is for another blog. In all cases I was learning that what we are doing now for remote learning does not qualify as e-learning, quality digital learning, blended learning, or any other pedagogically sound type of learning people have been working hard to develop. The only thing that changed was I was now willing to look ahead at how to improve for next year. 

The Reason (no more excuses) – My heart wasn’t in it.

Okay! I admit it! My heart wasn’t in it. 

Until opportunity knocked hard enough to shake me from my worry and anxiety, I did my job but I did not do my job with excellence. Again, I can make the excuse that the state, the pandemic, the district, the kids, whatever was the reason, but in the end we the teacher choose our response. For me it has been making a career change after 19 years in the same place that has re-invigorated me.  That is not the answer for everyone.  In 2012 it was flipped learning that shook me hard enough to change my outlook, and these have been the most productive eight years of my career in the same building, with the same students, and with mostly the same co-workers. I will carry flipped learning with me to my new school, but I am sure it will need to be adapted to the community and students I am there to serve. In any case my heart is in it and it has been the boost I needed to finish strong and not let anyone else define how I end this year. 

Bonus Reason:  Why have I written two blogs in two days?

Because a friend and colleague from New York State cared enough to ask why.  I mentioned in the previous blog that you need to maintain and build relationships during this pandemic to help stay healthy.  I have talked to family and co-workers a ton during this period of life and I appreciate them all, even more so as I prepare to make a large personal change.  I also appreciate the professional learning community I have developed over the last eight years via twitter, flippedlearning.org, in-person flip conferences, #flipclasschat (Mondays at 8pm eastern 7pm central), and so many more.  Within an hour of part 1 of this blog going up I had an email in my inbox from Maine (I live in Illinois) from someone I only know by email now, who included many words of encouragement and professional conversation that has sparked another blog idea.  

Why Blog

Neither of these blogs are what I set out to write, but if you have never blogged or written, you too may find that this is why it is such a worthwhile endeavour.  It is not about announcing your genius to the rest of the world, or bragging about your classroom on social media.  It is about having a structure to guide your personal reflection. It is about a medium for expressing your half formed thoughts, ideas, and feelings. It is also about calling out to others with your failures to ask their help in getting your mojo back and putting your heart into the kids we work with.

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