Ben's Approach to Collaboration & Communication
Communicating and collaborating with both colleagues and students' families is crucial in a blended environment. This is especially true if a teacher is doing something that looks very different from other teachers at his school. Check out how Ben communicates and collaborates with both his colleagues at school and his students' families and how his methods of communication and collaboration have evolved over time.
As a blended learning practitioner, I have learned that it's critically important to develop a classroom culture infused with respect and a collaborative spirit. Cultivating and nurturing this culture is especially important in my classroom where so much of the learning is self-paced and the content is largely accessed digitally. The Meet and Greet is a strategy I use to start each day in order to model positive student-teacher interaction, to assess individual student's state of mind quickly, and to motivate my students to engage with the content right away. Our weekly Class Meeting is another strategy that promotes a positive and collaborative classroom culture. In first part of each Class Meeting, my students are nominated for "shout-outs" by their classmates for specific effort and achievement they have demonstrated in the previous week. In the second part of the Class Meeting (please see the "Class Forum" strategy video), my students identify ways in which the class can improve and they suggest potential solutions to difficulties they are experiencing. The Meet and Greet and the Class Meeting are strategies that allow me to express my respect for my students and their experience of learning. Implementing these strategies has resulted in higher degrees of student ownership, responsibility, and engagement.
Flipped Mastery is a new model for not only the students, but for me as well - so I went into the year knowing that there needed to be a process for feedback and refinement. I created a monthly survey for students to take, what was working for them and what needed to be improved. The surveys were created on Google Forms and were made accessible on the class website home page. Based on the survey results, I made adjustments to the class structure throughout the year. When students saw their suggestions impacted how the class was run, it made them feel their voices were valued, which helped with the individual buy-in of many students.
By its very nature, learning in a self-paced classroom with digital resources can be an isolating experience for some students. While I want my students to take personal responsibility for and ownership of their learning, I also want them to learn essential collaboration skills and to leverage social learning to grow as people and as students of Mathematics. Buddy Time is a grouping strategy that requires my students to collaborate with peers working on the same lesson at a prescribed point in each lesson. During Buddy Time, students can collaborate or discuss their work with other students at their tables and they can use their collective knowledge and skills to help each other move towards mastery.