Upside Down, Inside Out & Round and Round: Flipped Classrooms, Flipped Schools

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Exploring the Flipped Classroom

The flipped classroom concept plays beautifully into my continuing narrative about exploring all perceptions.  Talking about flipping classrooms brings with it every range of response.  Lately, I’ve been reading about how it’s inherently flawed because it promotes the concept of homework, and yet, how can a system whereby we require students to do the actual thinking in class be flawed?

As an English teacher at heart, I’m proud to say, that at its most basic definition, we’ve been flipping classrooms for years.  What did I used to do to flip before I ever knew what flipped was?

  • Bring a piece of writing to class so we can peer revise, work on transitions, edit, workshop, etc.…
  • Write three discussion questions for our inner-outer circle discussion
  • Prepare a lesson on chapter X and teach the class; make sure you plan activities for them and involve everyone
  • Read X so we can do Y
  • Used Kathie Nunley’s Layered Curriculum model to plan units or activities
  • Performing, speaking, writing in class

Who is doing the thinking?

As I am not a gifted storyteller, I have never embraced the lecture model.  In fact, my entire goal as an educator has been to speak as little as possible, and make the kids engage as much as possible.  When I grew up as a teacher, I learned that the teacher’s job is front-loaded – the work, and it is hard work, lies in the planning.

In the classroom, it is the students who should be working; it is they who should be thinking.  If we lecture or lead teacher centric classrooms, we are doing them a disservice because we are the ones doing all of the hard work.  We are doing the thinking for them.

As one student told educator Graham Johnson @Math_Johnson:

“The teacher who lectures is taking that learning time away from me.
I don’t get to share/listen with others.”

This is why I love Robyn Jackson’s Never Work Harder than Your Students.  She highlights this philosophy with practical applications for teachers.  Some have argued that the title is misleading, that teachers always work harder than students.  I think we do – in the planning stages; but in the classroom, who is doing the thinking?  Who is doing the learning?


What about flipping schools at other levels?

Moving from teaching to administration has left me with one essential question that I continue to explore:

How do you, in a mere 10-12 hours per year,
engage a faculty in continued growth and learning?

Obviously, if we talk about time spent with teams and individuals, we have more than 10 hours per year.  However, if you consider that our meetings are our classes, and that we typically have one faculty meeting per month, we have a lot of work to do, with a HUGE class load, in very limited time.

What are we exploring to move our work forward?

  • Consistent Faculty Meeting Base Teams to encourage collaborative groups
  • Meetings centered around dialogue to develop shared understanding
  • Meeting themes centered around learning (our own and students’)
  • Optional Moodle discussion forums
  • Elimination of information items at faculty meetings; information items come out in our Weekly News e-mails

At some point though, I believe we have to actually do the work.  Dialogue is great to generate collegial discussions, but those discussions need to lead somewhere.  And that is where 10 hours is not enough time.

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Finding Balance

Teachers work very hard all of the time.  Charlotte Danielson, in A Framework for Teaching highlights the complexities of teaching as physically, emotionally, and cognitively demanding.  We make “hundreds of nontrivial decisions per day.”

As an administrator, I have to find the balance, protect time and ensure that all things are seamless.  Yet, we also have work to do as a school.  Hence, I am considering flipping our meetings?

 

  • What if we spent the meetings engaged in collaborative dialogue centered around a goal?
  • This might require additional discussion on a Moodle forum, research via social networks, or background reading.
  • The work would continue, in teams, over a series of meetings, with check in points – administrator as facilitator

The Flip: End of a Love Affair” speaks to moving beyond the gimmick of reverse instruction.  It speaks to using the concept to teach students how to learn.  After that, the flip is no longer necessary because students have motivation and drive to seek information.  Hopefully, we can do the same as a school.  Perhaps, we will have to require some “assigned reading,” but hopefully, if we begin to see value in our collective work, we will be so interested that the reading and research will be inherent.  We will embed it in our ethos and move forward together.

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One thought on “Upside Down, Inside Out & Round and Round: Flipped Classrooms, Flipped Schools

  1. There are a couple administrators playing with flipping staff meetings. It’s worth looking into and seeing what works and what doesn’t. I think having a Moodle forum is a great idea and a way to keep the conversation going beyond the meetings.

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