As a right-handed person, I have always put my right arm in first to my jackets. However this past school year, it has felt more like I have been trying to put my left arm in first to my jackets. If you have never tried this "simple" task, I suggest you try it. It feels awkward, cumbersome, confusing, and you might just look at little foolish, when at first you thought it would be a fun challenge that you would quickly master. I would like to say after a few attempts, it becomes easier and natural, but that is not the case. It takes many repeated attempts for it become easier (not easy) and for it to feel somewhat natural.
For me, this is how I felt when after 13 years of teaching, I decided to try something completely different to me, teaching a blended learning classroom. While I was getting effective results from my students year after year, I knew how I was teaching them was out of date with the demands of today's world. I wanted to put them, not me, at the center of their learning. I wanted to give them choices. I wanted to give them the opportunity to collaborate, communicate, think critically, and be creative on a daily basis, not just for a few times a year on a project. So I decided to put my left arm in first to my jacket and try blended learning.
At first, in the middle, and even towards the end of this year it has felt awkward, cumbersome, confusing, and I know I have definitely looked foolish more times than not. However, I am so glad I tried it, and got out of my comfort zone. I look at the rate of change outside education, and I can't help but feel education needs to be changing too. Is blended learning the answer? Maybe. Maybe not. But it was worth all the trials and errors this past year, because I feel that my students and I learned more this year than any other year that I have taught.
So here are my three, big takeaways from my first year of teaching a blended learning classroom to help me be more successful in my efforts for next year....