If You Haven’t Changed Practice, Don’t Call It Flipped

--Originally published at FLN Hub – nodes

When I try new things, the fear really sets in as I'm giving instructions and trying to pick up on the nonverbal cues my students are sending me. Most days, they roll with it. Other days...well, there is usually some kind of course correction in there.

But it's part of my practice now. Not crashing and burning of course; I learn a lot on those days, but I try not to make them the norm. My practice is to constantly ask, "Can this be better?" Sometimes, the answer is "No, not right now," and that's totally okay. Other times, I'm actively trying to improve on a lesson, a task, or a supporting item.

Flipping is easy to jump into. Need to teach something? Find a video. Slap an EdPuzzle quiz on there and post it through Google Classroom. Students, turn in a one page summary of what you watched. Quiz on Friday.

Don't keep your practice the same and call it flipped.

flickr photo shared by Daniel Kulinski under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

How are students engaging with the ideas? Not engaging with the video, but with the idea? The intangible? The abstract? The metaphorical? How are your students processing what you need them to learn in meaningful ways?

Flipping is really about a core change in practice that forces you, the teacher, to recognize that effective, deep learning requires our students chew on ideas ... and not just gnaw, but really chew hard. Video might be a component of the chewing, but it can't be the beginning and the end.

How do we avoid falling into a trap of simply adding another task to check off the list in the learning cycle? I have three main self-checks:

  1. Keep the video thin. This is the first exposure, not the only (or even main) exposure. Some questions should be answered, but I really want to get students asking more questions. I try to ride the line of thorough instruction and full instruction.
  2. Explicitly connect ideas from the video to class. I do this in a number of ways from a quick five-minute warm up at the start of class ("Remember, in the video...") or in the video itself as a preview ("We're going to do a lab where..."). I've found that these peeks help students make connections more readily as the learning tasks come around.
  3. Tell them the videos aren't enough to get by on. I don't remember when this hit me, but I never really said that the video alone isn't enough to help them learn. I make sure it's very, very clear that they need to engage with me - and each other - during class to really excel. Video is a tool, not the solution.

In the long run, by downplaying the magic-ness of your videos and underlining the importance of multiple modes of engagement, your practice will begin to change. You'll use that reclaimed time more effectively and you'll find yourself starting to look critically at everything you do.


    • When thinking about growth in schools, it’s surprising (maybe not so surprising anymore) how much more of an effect change has on the teaching staff than students. They’re ready for these shifts…teachers aren’t. Once we can effectively work together to change practice in an open, collaborative, supportive way, students will really have opportunities to shine.

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