It is my whole-hearted belief that as administrators, we must model what we want to see in classrooms every chance we get. Last year, the administrative team on my campus began to explore the benefits of blended learning. We discussed in depth how we wanted to roll out a blended learning initiative:
- Observing teachers at another campus? Yes!
- Training for our teachers? Of course!
- Book study? Let’s get it ordered!
And while all of these professional development options are valuable – and we used each one – we started the process without telling anyone we wanted them to change their instructional practices, but by modeling blended learning strategies as administrators every chance we got.
As administrators, we must model what we want to see in classrooms every chance we get.
By modeling the strategies before discussing them, reading about them, or providing training on them, we gave teachers the opportunity to explore the new strategies and get familiar with the technologies, but it also gave all the same benefits to our staff that we want for our students – allowing participants to have control over time, place, path, and/or pace of their learning.
And guess what?
Teachers loved it! They loved it so much, in fact, that many started utilizing the strategies in their classrooms before we provided any formal training whatsoever! And once a couple of teachers started, it spread across the building. Yet another benefit to modeling the teaching practices we want to see before explicitly teaching them – some teachers get excited and motivated and choose to incorporate the modeled strategies on their own – and then when other teachers see the early adopters having success, they jump on board, too and the strategies continue to spread!
So how can we incorporate blended learning and flipped classroom strategies into our Professional Development and Staff Meetings? Here’s what my team has tried and had success with:
My partner Assistant Principal and I have utilized the Screencastify Chrome Extension to record a screencast of Team Meeting presentations. We created Slides presentations and then recorded our voices as we went through the slides. We let teachers know that we included an action item toward the end to ensure that they watched the full video so they wouldn’t miss their “to do”. Teachers loved getting to skip the meeting and watch the video at the time of their choosing.
Blended Book Study
My partner AP and I offered a blended book study in which participants met for face-to-face meetings and we also utilized Google Classroom to share links, pass out and collect assignments, and gather feedback. Participants loved having all resources and links discussed housed in one easy to find location.
About halfway through the Spring semester last year, we realized that we needed to revisit PBIS expectations and change up our incentives for students. For this meeting, we created and utilized a PBIS HyperDoc for teachers to explore and learn about incentives on their own. This was a great way for teachers to gather new ideas and share them. There are so many great HyperDocs out there that fantastic educators have already created and shared. Search the Teachers Give Teachers website for ready-made HyperDocs that you can download and use or edit for your needs.
Only Online Participants
By utilizing Google Hangouts on Air with YouTube Live, we were able to stream each of our live book study meetings so teachers who couldn’t make it to the selected date and time could participate while waiting for their daughter’s dance class to end or watch the archived video at a time convenient to them. We posted the link to each archived video in our Google Classroom after the face-to-face meeting ended and kept online only participants accountable by assigning a Google Doc with each discussion topic covered during the live meeting and a place for them to share their responses. Teachers loved being able to participate only from home or blending their experience by coming to some face-to-face meetings and completing the online only components for the dates they couldn’t make.
This summer I had the privilege to serve as a summer school principal. With such a short amount of time to meet staff, set up, and get going with an entire staff of teachers who had never met each other before, I knew building a sense of community would be a challenge. I set up a FlipGrid and asked the summer school staff to share what home campus they were from (we are in a large district with over 50 elementary campuses) and something interesting about themselves. I went home and watched the videos over and over so that I could learn names and have talking points for each of my staff members to quickly build relationships. I also caught teachers building relationships with each other by striking up conversations based on what others shared in their FlipGrid. If you’re unfamiliar with FlipGrid – here are the responses from my summer school staff so that you can see how it works!
Blended Station Rotation
At an after school staff meeting, we utilized the station rotation model of blended learning in order to have teachers move through three stations: Independent online work (housed in Google Classroom), small groups with their AP, and a small group collaboration assignment. We were able to model the station rotation model and many teachers asked us to share the slides we used to explain and facilitate this model so that they could use it in their classrooms the next day.
This year, we are planning to set up and utilize a Google Classroom as a staff website. It can house important documents (like the Staff Handbook) in the About section and act as a place to get updates and news within the class stream. We are excited about trying out the differentiation capabilities now so that we can post math announcements only to math teachers and, hopefully, cut down on the amount of information our teachers are inundated with.
How do you model flipped and blended strategies for your teachers? What would you add to this list? Please comment below so we can grow our bank of strategies!