Flipping a classroom, or focusing on mastery instead of grades, is a great way to improve classroom management. So many aspects of what cause boredom, bad behavior, and frustration among students can be attributed to traditional classroom structure and how it measures progress. Outstanda is developing ways to allow for self-paced progress and “grades” based on whether the student is on pace or not, and clear pathways to close the gap. Here are 21 ways these changes improve classroom management and academic results.
1. Learning in Classroom Moving Too Slowly
No one likes to sit through a presentation about something they have already mastered. Imagine going to a conference and seeing presentation after presentation about things you already knew very well. Which way to the bar, right?
Self-paced curriculum with optional enrichment materials allows students to move as fast as they want, and dive deeper if they are interested.
2. Learning in Classroom Moving Too Quickly
If you have ever tried to learn something new, such as computer programming, you know that no matter how fast you write, your notes are simply gibberish when you get around to reviewing them if the instructor is not a great teacher.
When a student misses something, whether from an absence or simply not understanding the first time, the option to rewatch something allows every student to get the core concepts, which means fewer learning gaps in the future.
3. Wrong Teaching Style for Learner
There are many different styles with which students learn. The least effective is the in-person lecture. How many of us adults would like to give up our jobs doing something and exchange it for 8+ hours of lectures every day where we do not get to pick the topic or have a say in the projects?
When an instructor flips the classroom and students get smaller, more focused content at home, they can spend more time in class doing projects and interacting, and having more say in the programs.
4. Learning Gaps Leave Students Frustrated
Miss a couple of days being sick, and a student is left with a learning gap. While some students may be adept at closing that gap, others will find the lack of knowledge very frustrating and they will turn off when they feel behind.
Gaps in learning can start out small, and grow into an enormous issue for a learner. Consider math at the simplest level, if someone does not understand the concept of the number 8, every other math problem that contains the number 8 will be a guessing game if the number 8 was not mastered first. Even if all other concepts of math are mastered. To prevent this, focus on mastery and do not leave behind students who have missed class, slept through class, moved, or are just slower learners.
5. Some Students Only Focus on Getting a Passing Grade
Anyone not thrilled with something, but forced to do it, will generally do the minimum needed to get beyond the task. This is human nature and true with many adults. Why would we expect kids to all care about top grades when a barely passing grade is enough to move on?
The current grading system will pass learners when they get C’s and D’s to the next level. Plus, if the kids do not behave well, there is an interest for teachers to pass them along. This results in students moving up the grade-level ladder when they are not mastering the basics. Take grades and time limits out, and students must focus on mastery of basics as a minimum to stay with their current peers.
6. Some Students Stress Over Getting an A
Some students put a lot of pressure on themselves to achieve a high-grade point average. It is not enough to learn the topic. They also worry and stress over grading, projects, and other things that can impact their grade. This can lead to health issues as well as a misguided obsession with grades over learning.
Winning is an obsession for some people, and getting straight A’s seems like winning. However, in a mastery program, winning would be doing more, going deeper, and completing college-level courses at an early age. The limits of what can be done within a classroom are stripped away.
7. Student Academic Levels Vary From Topic to Topic
Imagine you are a very talented teacher and have not had a lot of science courses. You are placed in a program where your only choices are to take “Introduction to Teaching” and “Basic Science” or you can take “Advanced Classroom Management Techniques” along with “Astrophysics III.” But the option to be advanced in one area you are good at while doing a beginner topic in another area is not offered.
This is the problem with grade levels. While grade levels are good for creating peer groups and developing general skills, students with an affinity in one area cannot always move along in that area. This results in boredom, but more importantly, it stunts brilliance.
8. Some Students Thrive with Individual Attention
Often a small amount of individual attention can help a student understand a complex topic when something is explained in a different way, or a gap is filled. When instructors have more time to work with students individually, the entire group and make more progress if students understand the curriculum and process for completing course materials.
By flipping the classroom and focusing on mastery, instructors are freed up to spend more time helping kids who are stuck in one-to-one, or small group situations.
9. Some Students Thrive Working in Groups
Some people, regardless of age, get energy and engagement in working in groups. When forced to sit and watch something, they quickly become bored and sometimes disruptive. Having a chance to watch bite-sized learning segments at home alone, and then spend more time in groups engaging, can be beneficial to many learners.
If you have a talker in your class (and who doesn’t?), then your options are to keep asking them to be quiet, or to have more time that allows for talking. Working in groups, but still requiring individual mastery can help those kids succeed.
10. Distractions During Lessons Reduce All Students’ Learning
It is a rare classroom where some students are not distracting other students or disrupting class in general. By having the lecture and learning absorption done individually, and spending more time in class on projects, these students will be more engaged, less bored, and more focused on working. Classroom management becomes much easier without these distractions.
No amount of teaching can stop a group of students from distracting one another. When they can watch and review core materials without distraction, students who want to learn will race ahead and not suffer as much slowdown from other classmates.
11. Some Students Need to Repeat Complicated Ideas Multiple Times
During a live lecture, few people get everything on the first pass. When lectures are recorded, and then reinforced in class or group settings, the learning is more comprehensive and retention can be higher. The opportunity to watch something multiple times if needed is critical for learning a new subject.
If a student feels unsure of the core topics they are learning, they can rewatch or revisit specific information when a self-test show they have not mastered the topic. This way, while they may not feel confident about a class session, they can revisit it and catch up quickly, keeping the classroom moving forward.
12. Students Lack Tangible Short-Term Benefits for Learning
When you ask a student why they come to school, and their response is “Haven’t you heard of truancy?” you can be sure that person is meeting the minimum requirements but not interested in learning. Without a short-term benefit, kids who have not grown up in a college-oriented household often see school as something being forced upon them.
What makes Outstanda different from any other system is how it pays students in Checkoin to master topics. Over time, this currency will become like any digital currency and help struggling families, or provide spending money for better-off students. The Checkoin a student earns over their lifetime also is public and demonstrates the seriousness of their overall studies.
13. Student Homelife May Not Emphasize Education
Any educator knows that a whole family benefits long-term when a student does well in school. However, how many of us are strategically making decisions that will not produce tangible results for 10+ years? It is important to show a tangible benefit immediately.
Mastering topics in Oustanda and having the learning verified by an approved instructor generates income for students in the form of Checkoin. This is partially held until a student is an adult, but another portion can be used by families immediately to improve their standard of living.
14. Topic Purpose and Context Lacking
Why? The question we should all as more often as adults, but kids should just do what they are told! If curriculum and instructors cannot articulate how a topic is a building block for important skills in the future, then it should not be required learning.
Each new topic in Outstanda will have a careful and clear explanation of why the students are learning the topic. Students should never feel like they are being forced to learn things that they will never use.
15. Curriculum Rated and Updated to Improve Engagement
Once a school buys a curriculum they often use it for a time and reassess and try something totally different later. Parts of one may be better, and parts of another may be better.
Part of the mastery process asks students and instructors for thoughtful feedback and ratings. Any element of a lesson that is not adequately engaging, clear, interesting, and factually correct will be replaced quickly. Classroom management is easier when your curriculum is well-done.
This also means that everyone has access to the highest quality educational materials in the world for free, no matter the school or neighborhood.
16. Instructor Independent Curriculum Facilitates Substitutes and Moves
On any given day, a student might have a substitute teacher who may or may not have clear instructions on what to do that day. Classroom management is very challenging, and the day can be lost. When students know what is required next, changes in instructors or moving to another school do not result in lost opportunities.
The ability of a student to walk into any classroom, or a teacher to walk into any classroom, and to fit seamlessly into the process and maintain a continuum of learning is something that can improve classroom management and enhance academic results.
17. Paced Grading
Parents, schools, students, and government officials need to know how students are doing. Individually, and as a group, it is important to measure. Letter grades do not accurately reflect a student’s pace, intelligence, or potential.
With a clear path of mastering core topics and allowing for learners to work at a pace comfortable to them, how are students graded? Outstanda looks at the level of a student, including age, location, and school level as well as the date a course is started, and then assigns a value per course that shows if they are on target (Par) or assigns a value such as +2 (two weeks ahead of par) or -3 (three weeks behind par.) With this system, students cannot just take a bad grade and move on.
This means students are never flunking or getting a bad grade. They are simply going to take longer to finish a topic. How individual schools interpret this and turn it into school grades is entirely the school’s choice.
18. Students See Steps to Closing Gaps to Improve Motivation
Any person lacks motivation when the task list before them seems overwhelming. This becomes a vicious cycle because procrastination only makes matters worse. While we all know you just have to put your head down and get to work. Students experience this as well and have less life experience to deal with it. So some give up ever completing things, and take a bad grade.
Students will not suddenly be surprised that they are 20 weeks behind. It is a gradual slip that they see when it begins, and with clear steps to catch back up mapped out before a student.
19. Parents See Steps to Closing Gaps to Help Students Learn
It is important students see exactly what they need to do to achieve their goals. Parents also need to know what to do to help students succeed. It is common to hear people in education reference parents as part of the solution, but parents do not have a clear roadmap of how to do that.
A condensed dashboard is visible to parents in the Outstanda system and they can clearly see what students need to catch up, or they can praise them for being ahead. Because this system is automated (other than final verifications), parents cannot blame teachers. They can take responsibility and help students focus and get back on track at any time.
20. Students Feel Included Through Representation and Role Models
An emphasis on diversity in learning materials will help create positive role models for students as well as expose students to many different people and improve how people think of other people different from themselves.
Does Outstanda have an ulterior motive in its curriculum development? Yes.
Developing materials for learning that are fair, inclusive, culturally sensitive and interesting, politically reasonable, and oriented on problem-solving, such as climate change is our overall goal. Materials should work regardless of country, religion, or politics with the exception of groups that are discriminatory, hateful, or violent.
This approach is not easy, but it can create good role models and less discrimination with representation and clear principles. When kids in a classroom feel that they are represented, they are more likely to do the work.
21. Continuity Reduces Summer Learning Loss
Summer learning loss, or learning loss in any break, can be mitigated by students having access to materials and having a clear, self-guided plan of continuing work on their own. With added rewards and benefits, students will be more motivated to continue working some hours per day, even when not forced to do the work in a school environment.
This gets to our principle of self-paced and independent learning that can take place in or outside of a classroom. Instead of experiencing Summer learning loss, students can learn over the Summer and come to school ahead of where they need to be. This acceleration over time can lead to students taking college-level courses in middle school and high school.
Proactive school systems can even do a regular conference call between students and the upcoming new teacher to get to know each other and to help guide them into the correct curriculum and focus for day one of class starting. Schools can also tutor more easily over the summer to help students catch back up if they did not complete the expected materials the year before.
About Outstanda and Classroom Management
As we release many of these tools to the public, you can see the impact these changes can have on classroom management. When classrooms become places where people get together and learn and work on projects together, classroom management will improve without tricks or trying to change who people are.
Outstanda is being developed, and many of the tools in this article are not ready until later 2022. You can get involved now if you like where we are going. We need help building courses and lessons in all major languages, and at all levels. This includes the college level through Ph.D. Outstanda is an integrated, life-long learning system that rewards learners and is always free to use.
Find out more about Checkoin and the Outstanda Learn and Earn program.