Take the Red Pill: Embrace Flex Teaching Today

By Stefani Roth

This morning, I was reading Times Ten’s newest book, Hacking Flex Teaching, and I couldn’t help but smile as author Hollie Woodard describes her initial struggle with, even rejection of, educational technology. She explains the root of that struggle—which most of us can relate to—fear.

Fear of being replaced, irrelevant, and losing connection—all the stuff of anxiety.

Holly’s vulnerable and insightful words about her evolution in thinking, along with her humor and fun examples, help us face an impending digital future and correlated demand for flexible models of teaching (flex teaching) with a bit of a side-eye, distrustful look.

Hollie talks about the many folks’ fight-or-flight response to not just technology—but to any change.

Comparing the protagonists’ choices in the Terminator and The Matrix, Hollie writes:

I could choose to be the protagonist in Terminator, John Connor, who pushes back against the all-consuming power with the ultimate goal of destroying it before it destroys us.

Or I could choose to be the red-pill-enlightened Neo, played by Keanu Reeves, in The Matrix. He uses his efforts not to fight for the extinction of technology but to stay in Wonderland and learn as much about it as possible—to control it.

I’ll take the red pill, please.

If you also choose the red pill, Hollie’s book helps you embrace and excel in a world where flex teaching is no longer an option but an imperative to provide equitable access to and inclusivity of all students.

What is flex teaching? 

It is a teaching model and mindset rooted in adaptability and equity that has been readily embraced by many innovative universities, even pre-pandemic, like the University of Kansas and Duke University.

In Hollie’s words:

“Flex teaching is the understanding that education is now fluid and the educational models created to meet the needs of pandemic teaching and learning are here to stay. Flex teaching is also the understanding that professional growth, technological adoption, and twenty-first-century best practices are essential to education’s survival.”

But before you let our old friend fear cause you to reach for your comfort blanket, know that flex teaching does not require a complete set of new skills or a ton of additional professional development.

Hollie helps us understand that it’s simply good teaching to use a thoughtful lens when using technology to support engagement, the gradual release of responsibility, students with special needs, and more—all things you already do.

Photo by Julia M Cameron from Pexels

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