9 things that happened when I let students take control of my class.
I used to be a traditional teacher. I stood in the front of my class while everyone stared at me. I demanded silence and for 40 minutes I would teach. I would call on students and students would take notes from what I lectured. While I thought otherwise, I am sure my class looked something like this:
Then at the start of the 2014, I gave up my control to my students. I let them take charge of their own learning within the flipped classroom. Here is what happened when I let my students take control of my class when I stopped talking the entire period.
- They talked more. I talked less. The emphasis was no longer on me talking and students listening. I let them have a voice (and what a powerful voice they have)! I want to know what they think while they are working. I now have time to go around the class, listening to the math conversations that are happening.
- Students lead class. I strongly believe that if a student can teach a concept to someone else, then they have truly mastered the content. What better way to know if students understand the material than by having them teach each other. They love being able to teach each other, not only reinforcing their own understanding but conveying different methods to others.
- Some students work ahead. Students who no longer needed to waste class time listening to me on concepts they already had mastered now could work ahead. They set their own pace and follow their own schedule.
- The students have in-depth conversations with each other. With no time in class spent on traditional instruction, they have plenty of time to argue their viewpoints or strategies in how to do something. It’s a wonderful thing to watch them reason with each other.
- Students love choice. When I give projects, I now give them a choice as to the method of deliver. They can create a movie, poster, brochure, etc. When studying for an assessment, I used to give students a review assignment. Looking back, what purpose does this solve? Students would do problems they have already mastered and don’t practice enough on the ones they haven’t. By giving choice, students now have no review assignment but an independent study. They choose what to study and what they need the most help with. Students now create projects of much better quality and do better on assessments.
- They feel welcome. By taking control of my class, they can make the environment their own. Moving desks, sitting wherever they want or listening to music through headphones while they work gives them choice. With choice comes freedom and with freedom comes improved engagement and learning.
- I no longer have rules. I have expectations. I used to have a bunch of, “You can’ts.” Now there are no rules whatsoever. This in no way means that my class is a free for all. I now have expectations. The students know what is expected of them in their behavior and their academics.
- Students can’t hide. No longer can a student sit in my class without being noticed, being quiet the whole period without ever contributing to the class. Every student is now an active part of class, engaging in cooperative groups and conversations. When a student falters on a concept, I can identify it before the student is assessed.
- We have fun. What would an effective classroom be without laughter? I want to have fun just as much as the kids do. If class is not fun for me, then it definitely wouldn’t be fun for them. I love teaching students and I have fun doing it!