Can you imagine a blended classroom with students so engaged in their work that they ask to skip recess? Now imagine that you’ve created a personalized education plan for every student without sacrificing your free time. Sound too good to be true? Not so for Diana Bailey, fifth grade teacher and 2014 Lawrence Public Schools (LPS) Teacher of the Year. Diana recently shared how she was able to transform her traditional classroom into a blended learning oasis that allowed her to increase free time and engage her students like never before.

Bailey’s journey into blended learning began a few years ago, when after seeking out new ways to differentiate her instruction, she realized that she “was not reaching all my students with the traditional way of teaching. Trying to get enrichment and remediation into the classroom was exhausting.”

So when her district offered her the opportunity to be a part of a blended learning pilot, she jumped at the opportunity. Bailey admits that the first year, fall of 2012, was “not easy.” In the years since she says “I have witnessed learning come alive, seen my stress decrease and found myself with more and more free time.”

Nevertheless, Bailey cautions that this blended classroom transformation “doesn’t happen overnight.” She offers a few components for others to reflect on, which she felt helped her set the stage for the success she has had in the years since:

#1. Change your mindset

According to Bailey, there needs to be a paradigm shift in your teaching mindset away from traditional models and towards what she calls the “22nd century version—gone are the desks and the spoon-feeding of information from the front of the classroom. Instead students choose their pace, place and path and how they get the information.” 

#2. Ask yourself tough questions

Part of changing your mindset including asking yourself tough questions and being prepared to receive and answer new questions such as “What does homework look like? What is the purpose of homework? Are due dates flexible? Can students retake a test, or take it together?”

 #3. Consider physical space

Bailey shares that “As I had this paradigm shift . . . I realized that it wasn’t about me, it’s about these 25 to 30 kids, and the space should reflect that. . . I was 1/25th of the classroom but I was taking up ¼ of the space [with desks].” Bailey advises that you continue to ask yourself questions such as “Where is student learning happening? Should there be a front of the classroom? How can physical space encourage student collaboration?

#4. Have no fear

Bailey admits that the prospect of making these changes can be scary, but that it’s important to have “no fear” and to model the “perseverance and problem solving we want our students to have. Make decisions based on each class and group of students each year.”

With these reflections in mind, Bailey goes on to share how she was able to successfully implement blended learning in her classroom, and some of the key ways she has been able to save time and decrease stress. Watch the full video below to discover how you can join Diana Bailey on blended classroom journey.

This webinar originally occurred on May 18th, 2015.

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