Flip Fail #4: Settling For a Field Goal



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If I sum up all of my many failures in my first semester or 18 months of flipping my class I would have to say that I failed to go far enough.  I don’t mean that I feel I didn’t use enough technology or that I didn’t use enough weird teaching methods. What I mean is that I was not willing to open my eyes wide enough to reflect on many of my very basic practices and beliefs that I had carried for the first 12 years of my teaching career.

At the end of 18 months of flipping my classroom I had achieved quite a bit. I had built a library pre-calculus video lectures as well as videos for Algebra 1 and many more general math class. I had mastered the use of a learning management system for organizing instructional at home components and included summative quizzing to begin addressing students who were not doing the appropriate amount of preparatory work.  At this point some of you should already see the problems that are brewing but let’s keep going. I was also still giving 25 to 30 math problems a night in addition to videos to watch. Students still spent significant amounts of time at their seats working on individualized work while in the group space. The tests and quizzes that I had used for years we’re still the test and quizzes I was planning to use for years to come.  I had become a multimedia expert on a variety of digital devices because of access issues, but the entire class remained in a daily lock step of assignments and assessments. After 18 months comparing exam test results between flipped and non flipped classes I had seen a 7-9% Improvement across all levels indicating to me that the flip was effective. It is at this point that I failed.

What I hadn’t accomplished was leveraging the digital medium to make the at-home component more efficient and meaningful to students, it was still my same old lectures in video form. I still held on to the idea that 25 to 30 problems of math homework and night was necessary for successful learning. Sadly, it would still be two years before I realized that the assessments I had seen improvement on we’re still poor reflections of what students should be able to know when do. In short, I was willing to stop short of the football end zone, kick the field goal, and proclaim success.

What needed to happen at this point was a true time of reflection on some of the core teaching beliefs that I had.  Here is a list of teaching areas that I needed to reflect on. They might be a list you should consider reflecting on as well.

  1. How much skill practice does a student need to become proficient?
  2. What type of skill practice is most effective?
  3. Where/when is practice effective?
  4. What is the purpose of assessment?
  5. What does a successful assessment mean?
  6. What is the point of having a teacher in a room full of students sharing the same space and air?
  7. What deadlines or criteria do I have to meet?
  8. Are the deadlines I set for students meaningful to them?
  9. What does failure to meet a deadline indicate?
  10. When does learning happen?
  11. How do I show that learning is happening?
  12. Who determines what is mandatory and what is optional?
  13. And on and on…..

I am reminded that there are only two reactions from a person who has just climbed a large hill and surveys the mountain range beyond.  One response is “Oh super!” and a marvelous journey begins. The other is “Oh (something else)” and the traveler is left with a choice.


Join us in the next episode of Filp Fails coming soon.


Your #flipblogs turn:

Having set the course for this series I would like to encourage anyone that has a flip fail story to blog, vlog, pod, tweet, twitch or in some way share your story of Flip Failure.  If you would like to share it at #flipblogs or tweet the link to @flippedlearning we would love to share your story here. One Caveat, as much as we love a good face plant, we want to know how you recovered or learned from that experience.

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