Last school year, we facilitated a book study on Blended Learning. I hate to call it a book study, though. While the book was the inspiration for the action, and definitely was the scaffold for the teachers involved, this was FAR more than a book study. This was pure AWESOMEness!
There are a few key things to remember when embarking on a blended learning journey.
Leadership is important to the success of blended learning, but relationships are the key. Leadership is more than just the principal. Identify and empower your experts! Your Media Specialist, ITF (instructional technology facilitator) or Instructional Coach can be just the support teachers need - it takes more than one person to champion the vision. It has to be shared. Honestly, it has to be contagious. That is just what we saw in one of the schools that participated. It started with a few teachers and it spread...one teacher shared what was going on with his students and it piqued the interest of another teacher. It was amazing to watch.
Turn perceived roadblocks into mere hurdles.
"We don't have enough devices!"
"My students keep forgetting their passwords."
"They don't all have Internet access at home."
These are just a few of the comments we got in the beginning. Valid points, but they aren't reasons why there can't be blended learning in a class. They are excuses for those that don't feel ready to try something different. Get into the habit of finding solutions instead of complaining about the problems. If you only complain about the problem, you become part of the problem. Brainstorm ways to turn roadblocks into hurdles - and overcome them!
With risk there is reward. The school leaders acknowledged the strengths of the teachers and let them take some risks to maximize learning for their students. The teachers worked together to plan and create experiences that engaged students. Growth was noticed in many forms - not all growth is measured my a number. Let's not forget that growth is also not limited to students.
This year, I've seen the blended learning ideas shared last year spread to another school. I think great things are on the horizon. Remember, it always starts with one. One visionary leader, One inspired teacher. One curious student. One step towards changing the way schools educate students. This is all that is needed to start a revolution.