Masters in Education: Stacey Roshan
Welcome to our Masters in Education series! Check back each week for another profile of an expert educator.
In her third year of teaching high school math in a fairly traditional style at Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, Stacey Roshan ran into trouble when she took on an AP calculus class. She simply didn’t have enough class time to cover the material and had difficulty keeping her students engaged while lecturing about complex equations. “They wanted so much more time in the classroom to work on problems,” Roshan tells U.S. News. So Roshan completely changed her teaching style by introducing a cutting-edge technological solution called the “flipped classroom.”
The Flipped Classroom
In many ways, the flipped classroom is the opposite of what we imagine happening in a high school classroom — although the desks aren’t on the ceiling! In this model, teachers record lectures for students to watch online as homework, then use class time for the kind of problem-solving that students would ordinarily do at home. This allows students to both absorb information and solve problems independently at their own pace. At the same time, it creates more space for students to work in groups or to work one-on-one with the teacher. And if students request a live demonstration or mini-lecture on a particularly thorny equation, Roshan always has the option of flipping back to a more traditional teaching style for however long is necessary.
Does It Work?
Many educators have expressed skepticism about the flipped classroom model, but Roshan’s results are hard to argue with. According to the U.S. News article cited above, Roshan’s students scored about 10 percent higher on the AP exam during the first year she flipped her classroom, with a third of the class achieving the maximum score of five. She tells USA Today that while she failed to cover all the required material during her first year teaching AP calculus, she finished the curriculum a month early in her flipped classroom.
Flipping Your Own Class
Bullis School, where Roshan teaches, is a private institution with a larger technology budget and a more privileged student body than most public schools, but Roshan believes that flipping the classroom can work for many other educators. Her blog, Techie Musings, offers a wealth of information for beginning “flippers.” According to the Washington Post, Roshan’s own mother, a 60-year-old AP calculus teacher, is one of the skeptics Stacey has converted. However, Stacey Roshan isn’t interested in pushing the flipped classroom on teachers who feel comfortable with traditional methods. “I don’t think that your material ever gets old if you’re delivering it effectively,” she tells U.S. News.
While the test scores of Roshan’s students are impressive, they don’t really provide a solid pedagogical reason for upending more than a century of educational tradition. But one of the posts on Roshan’s blog offers a more human reason for experimenting with the flipped classroom:
Before becoming a teacher, she worked as an economist for an engineering firm — a good job, but one that brought with it a level of stress and competitiveness that she didn’t care for. By earning her Master’s in Education and becoming a math teacher, Roshan was able to escape an anxiety-ridden environment to share her passion for numbers with the next generation. The only problem was that during her first year teaching AP calculus, she began to see the same performance anxiety in her students that had permeated the corporate environment she left behind. Flipping the classroom allowed her to alleviate that anxiety and to encourage the spirit of openness and collaboration that had led her to becoming a teacher in the first place.