Come Along on My Blended Journey

No one ever said blended learning was easy. Especially from the teacher’s viewpoint. Without a doubt, facilitating an educational environment based on many types of brick-and-mortar delivery models and online content made available by a digital learning platform is the most effective and well-rounded approach to teaching. But again, there is a learning curve.
Although I have been teaching with the blended learning model for a few years now, sharing the classroom space with two brilliant colleagues and their content areas has inspired and challenged me to grow professionally.
At this time, I cordially invite you to follow my blended learning journey as I work through my professional weaknesses and create a better me…and ultimately, a stronger, 21st century educator.

Flexibility and Compromise

What teacher doesn’t have control issues? In fact, my attendance at educational conferences has taught me that classroom control is always one of the hot topics. For the last 15 years, I was the leader in my own classroom. Sure, I had co-teachers and paraprofessionals occasionally, and we worked very well together. However, the overwhelming majority of class time during my entire career had me as the only teacher.
Fast forward to the present moment. At our newly established E.P.i.C.C. Academy, I share a high-tech, oversized classroom with my two, esteemed colleagues, who teach Math and Spanish, respectively. Every day has us looking at a schedule that meets the individual needs of all students in three different content areas. This process is much different than the years past when I simply thought about what I needed to do for my class of thirty-plus. Even with active differentiation during my past classes, scheduling was relatively simple. I had no other colleagues and content areas to consider.
Now, the process is much more challenging, and, when communicated effectively, much more rewarding. Please excuse the cheesy simile here, but working through this process of compromising what’s best for all students and all content areas in a fair manner has been like the first month of working out. Through weekly repetitions of scheduling conversations, my cerebral “muscles” are becoming stronger, and I’m witnessing successful interactions between multiple academics. Awesome.

A Magical Online Course

Perhaps my biggest professional task is to create online content that is comparable to the classroom magic that is often created through brick-and-mortar interactive structures, project-based learning, gamified lessons, and the immeasurable student-to-teacher relationships that result from face-to-face interactions. Honestly, right now I am not too proud of my digital content within our digital learning platform. However, I am taking it easy on myself since I am in my first year of building a full-scale digital course, and not just supplemental content.
As a literature teacher, my students and I have always striven to bring written words to life. From more traditional classroom discussions with a touch of backchanneling to non-traditional methods integrated with improvisational acting, the students have always created classroom magic. Now, as I move forward even more, I wonder how I will create that same magic online for a student who is physically unable to attend our classroom. This very question has me on a quest to overturn every web app, every tech gadget, and every new #edtech buzzword in search of the best approach to help each learner guide his own education and, hopefully, take ownership of it.
I’m sure there will be challenges on my quest. There have been all my years teaching. Thankfully, I know where to turn for understanding while on my journey.
Yep, my trusted colleagues. We are always looking to share our best and worst in the hopes of self-improvement.
Want to share also? I would love to hear your comments and learn with you.

John Hardison

John Hardison is an interactive facilitator of learning and blended learning specialist at East Hall High School (Studio 113 & EPiCC).

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