The deck was stacked against me: I was a science teacher in an academic recovery program for at-risk, habitually truant teens in one of Los Angeles’ most notorious neighborhoods. My students struggled with so many life basics, like transportation problems, chaotic home situations and even hunger. Yet, they chose to be in my college prep Biology class and rose to the high expectations I set for them. My years at that school were so special and I’ll never be the same because of my relationships with the students in my classes.
My all time favorite and best classroom theme has been “Go BIG” which stands for Belong, Interact, and Grow. I believe it meets all the basic needs of a teenager and creates a safe and engaging classroom environment for students of all backgrounds and ages (more on this topic in a future post). Since I had the students bought into our classroom theme, they knew they belonged there. I didn’t struggle with truancy like the other teachers did, because the students felt they belonged in class. However, as I mentioned the students faced tough circumstances that prevented them from being in class sometimes. How could I make sure they still “belonged” to class and had the opportunity to “interact” with the material when absent and then present again for the lab?
My solution was flipping my direct instruction. My plan was to stay at the academic recovery school for several years and I knew I’d teach Biology again in the future, so I considered the work an investment in my career. My first step in flipping my classroom was to choose a program I liked. I chose Explain Everything because it was easy to upload my PowerPoint and Slides presentations. I could then write on the screen easily since I used my iPad. I used the same presentation I had used in class and sat down to record my voice. It was easy since I already taught my lesson and I would sometimes even batch this task by taking several lessons and recording them one after another so I’d be ready for the whole unit.
I created a YouTube channel that my students could access the videos on. Here’s an example *cringe* of one of my lessons. I think the key to the successful flip is being yourself and making the student feel like they are still a part of your class.
I hope this helps, please comment with any questions!
May your teacher heart be full and happy,