Sharing Classroom Teaching Experiences: A Rare Culture Among Tanzanian Teachers

In recent years, internet has been one of my major sources of knowledge and skills. Whether preparing to facilitate learning or studying computer programing, internet contains almost anything you would like to learn.

As a Netizen, apart from learning what others share on the internet, I also learn why they share their contents although the reasons for sharing my not always be apparent. In this article, I want to share with you the culture I learned from Western Teachers. The culture of sharing what happens in their classes. Challenges, achievements, innovations and their prospects as far as teaching and learning is concerned.

I have come cross several blogs and Websites owned by teachers themselves and some other platforms owned by educational organizations where teachers share their facilitation experiences. Through these teacher's live experiences, I have learned several aspects of teaching and learning. Among them, is the culture of sharing teaching and learning practices teachers encounter while teaching. Expressing their feelings about teaching and their readiness is among the interesting aspects.

Through this culture, some teachers have shared their new innovations including new teaching approaches and assessment.

I flipped my class, now everyone talks, laughs, and works

Group of college students sitting around a desk talking and using a laptop
My journey toward teaching in a flipped classroom began when I started teaching classes that met once a week for three hours. Neither my voice nor the students’ perseverance could handle three-hour lectures. This led me to experiment with alternate uses of classroom time via a variety of group and individual activities.
At the same time, I was interested in developing skills that supported our program outcomes. It seemed to me unfair for the program to assess students on skills that we were not developing in a transparent and consistent way in individual classes.

The result was that I began to teach sessions that were split between content delivery (lecture) and skill development (activities) tied to specific assignments. Soon, however, I shifted content acquisition onto the students’ shoulders and dedicated class time exclusively to activities that reinforced the information, explored it from different angles, and demanded that students engage it for the entire class session. 

The results have been phenomenal. Student command of and facility with the course content has improved across the board. Now even the middle-performing third of the students could discuss the content with the ease of the top performers.

More importantly, however, students were finally having fun in my class. Art history is fun, especially the joy of discovery and applying learned information to new, unknown works. But my students weren’t having fun in lecture courses. The A students learned the content and were engaged as they furiously took notes (I talk fast) but the rest seemed to hate being in class–or at least were very bored. The flipped class has everyone engaged. The stronger students help the weaker ones. The quiet ones contribute ideas and let the more boisterous present it to the class. Everyone talks. Everyone laughs. Everyone works.

And I have fun. I get to know my students better than I ever have before. I know everyone’s name within two weeks. I can’t wait to get to class each week to share the in-class activities I have developed for them. And I spend the session delighting in their work and engagement, noting which activities bore the most fruit and which need to be retooled, and thinking about ways to make the next class session even better.

I have been asked how flipping impacts my student evaluations. The reality is that there really has not been much of a change. My lecture courses were good lecture courses and my evaluations reflected that. My flipped classes are good flipped classes, and the numbers correspond as well. But flipped classes pay off for me and my students’ learning, which counts much more than evaluation data.
In case you are interested, I presented a more in-depth webinar on flipping my art history class. View at your leisure.
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Her more in-depth webinar on flipping her art history class can be view here in Youtube.This is definitely a good culture worth to be practiced by our teachers. It makes it easy for teachers to assess themselves, be assessed by peers and allow others to learn from their experiences. It also provide teachers with opportunities to share their new thinking, innovations and creativity to the outside World.


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