Have I Flipped?

--Originally published at Benjamin L. Stewart, PhD

I read Flipping Professional Development/Professional Learning, and thought how does flipping a classroom relate to flipping professional learning (in education).

On Nov. 18, 2013, I left a comment on how I currently feel about the "flipped classroom", and am equally hesitant in using the term to describe professional development/learning.

I truly enjoy Flipping Professional Development because I think it provides a great avenue for learning.

Hernandez goes on to associate flipped professional development (FPD) with the following questions: Do the participants have what they need to make it successful? Will they have time to do things on their own? Are they savvy enough?  Since FPD has not been defined explicitly, I find myself still trying to connect the dots:  what does it mean to view professional development as being "successful"?  And what's the point in deciding whether one is "savvy enough"?  Professional learning is not dichotomous, so best to frame questions that reveal the process in terms of degree.

Be Prepared for any and everything...When I am planning I [am] always [thinking] with the end in mind.

Perhaps just a hyperbole, but I think we all would agree that it is impossible to plan for everything.  Professional learning is emergent, dynamic, and unpredictable.  Preparation may be a part of it, but a lot has to do with being able to adapt to an ever-changing situation or context.  Instructional leaders need to be able to adjust to constantly changing (learning) environments, and accept (and embrace) incidental learning where ends (i.e., goals and objectives) emerge unexpectedly.

What do I want my participants to walk away with?

Where are they going? In fact, your "participants", educators, should not be going anywhere.  Professional learning should be an extension to current teaching practice.  Instead of isolated events (i.e., conferences, workshops, and in-services), interaction among educators should be an open, ongoing trajectory towards building relationships by cultivating a personal learning network.

The three components that I use when planning are explore, flip, and apply.

Ok, I'm still not sure about what's being "flipped", but let's explore.  Hernandez seems to mean that educators search online for tools, determine which are effective in the classroom, and then figure out how to use them.  I guess my question is, When and how is all of this supposed to happen?

Does this happen at a conference, workshop, or in-service?  Does this happen in absence of any classroom context?  Are teachers expected to plan how to use a new tool without first sharing with others how other tools have already been used (successfully or otherwise)?  I'm not sure how to interpret explore, flip, and apply.

Professional learning is constant.  We learn while we are teaching, we learn when we share an idea or experience with a colleague, we learn when we read a book, we learn when we fail ... Have I flipped?  Does anything I say have anything to do with "flipping professional development"?

Leave a Comment