Scaling Flipped Learning Part 3

--Originally published at flipclass – Flipped Learning Simplified

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As more and more schools adopt flipped learning on a larger scale, there is a need to think systemically about evaluation systems. This is the third in a series on how to scale flipped learning. In the first post I discussed technological systems, in the second I discussed pedagogical systems, and in this post, I will explore how evaluation systems need to change when flipped learning is scaled.

During my twenty-four years as a classroom teacher, I was evaluated many times by administrators. The vast majority of these evaluations consisted of the principal sitting in my class and watching me “teach.” He or she took notes, plugged the information into a rubric, and then later we sat down and discussed how things went. Since most of my class was a teacher-centered presentation, I strived for great presentations which engaged my students, inspired their curiosity, and sparked rich questioning.  Later, during our evaluation meeting we would discuss the lesson, how I could have improved, my goals for the year, and how I planned to make myself better. In many ways, the focus of the conversation focused on delivery of information: how I could be clearer, how more students could understand the content, and how to engage the unengaged.

But then I flipped my class, and direct content delivery happened outside of class. The students accessed the flipped videos on their own time. The typical evaluation systems didn’t fit into the traditional rubrics.

During my second year of flipping my class, I was up for a review. My principal Del Garrick, came in for his yearly evaluation. He sat down to watch the class and didn’t get what he was expecting. Instead of a teacher-centered presentation, kids were actively engaged in learning from the start, with what appeared to be little prompting from me. As I was interacting with kids, I turned to Del and asked him to take part in helping some students with an experiment, and for him to be a part of the learning environment. When we met later, our conversation was not about how I could present content more explicitly, but rather, about how flipped learning leads to active students. Del told me that the rubric didn’t apply. Then he added, “I get it. Kids are active, engaged, and learning. Keep up the good work.”  

A few years ago I had a chance to chat with Greg Green, the principal of Clintondale High School; the first fully flipped school in the world. We discussed how he evaluated his teachers, and he told me that before they flipped, 80% of class time was teacher-centered, and 20% was student-centered. After the school had flipped, the numbers flipped. Now only 20% of class time is teacher-centered, and 80% is student-centered. He then built the 80-20 rule into his evaluation system, and he expects that classes will have much less teacher talk-time and much more student activity time.

As a school expands flipped learning, it is imperative that the evaluation systems get redrawn. Below are a few evaluative areas which should be addressed when you scale flipped learning:

  • Pre-Watch the Flipped Video – Since a flipped class hinges on students doing the pre-work, it will be best if the principal views the same video as the students before observing a class.
  • Evaluate the Flipped Video – Since students consume content via a flipped video; there is a need for administrators to evaluate the videos teachers create. Videos should not just disseminate information, but have built-in interactive elements which engage students.
  • Evaluate Class Activities – Does the in-class activity match the purpose of the lesson? How engaging is the in-class activity? To what extent are students on task and learning?
  • Evaluate Teacher-Student Interactions – What is the quality of interactions between the teacher and his or her students? To what extent does the teacher get to every student? Are the questions differentiated for students with varied abilities? Does the teacher guide instead of tell?
  • Evaluate Student-Student Interactions – Students all over the world say they love flipped classrooms because of how much time they get to work together. What is the level of student-student interactions? Are they probing, questioning, and solving problems without teacher assistance? Flipped classrooms transfer ownership of the class to students, so in an exceptional flipped class, you will observe deep student conversations.
  • Expect Noise – Flipped classrooms are not usually quiet. They are busy and active. Don’t expect to find kids quietly sitting in desks.


In what other areas do you think we need to change the teacher evaluation system as schools adopt flipped learning wholesale?

1 Comment

  • Yes! Administrators need a different paradigm to properly evaluate flipping teachers. Two years ago, my principal had an accident in January which made him absent from school for a few weeks. We had a substitute administrator (a retired principal) during evaluation season. He did a 30-minute drop-in observation of my flipping colleague’s classroom, and sat in the corner the whole time while she circulated the classroom. His written comment: “You seemed to not be doing anything.” Grammatically confusing, and pedagogically false!

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