At the risk of becoming repetitive I’ll say it again, having a chance to talk with your colleagues about content and approaches in the classroom is something of a luxury in education. Too often we find ourselves swept along by the school year and meeting up with your colleagues is simply to agree the necessities of the weekly business of organisation and planning that are needed to keep our educational boat afloat.
Having said that I now find myself for the second time in two weeks writing about opportunities that have come along and provided discussion opportunities and inspiration from gatherings organized by the European Platform, the bilingual education organization here in the Netherlands.
As part of their celebrations for 25 years of the bilingual approach being part of the educational scene here the European Platform organized a gathering of teachers and school leaders at the Beatrix theatre in Utrecht. This time though, instead of having to provide content I was able to sit back and listen, a situation that the longer I work in education, the more I seem to enjoy! Although to be honest the most important part of the day’s presentation for me was not quite so much simply listening, but actively thinking along and discussing. The reason for this is that we had Eric Mazur as our guest keynote speaker. Mazur has made his name as the developer of the ‘flipping the classroom’ approach, although as he explained later he prefers ‘inverting the classroom’, I guess maybe physicists don’t flip, but prefer to invert.
His presentation was both entertaining and informative, showing how his PI (peer instruction) approach works. In doing so he got a very diverse group of educators engaged and discussing thermo dynamics, which as an art teacher was not what I expected to be doing with those sitting around me in the theatre. This of course was the point, with good instruction and approaches that are designed to engage and activate the learner our education that we offer will become more effective. It is obviously not the only answer or strategy that we should be applying in the classroom, but certainly has a place and left pondering how I will be able to apply similar approaches.
Afterwards there was the chance once again to discuss with others the implications and uses of what we had seen, and as it turned out for me and my two colleagues attending also the opportunity to quiz Mazur himself further on what he had spoken about.
If you are interested to know how Peer Instruction works, take a look at this video: