Why I Still Flip

--Originally published at Flipped Learning

I'm often asked the question why..."Why did you decide to Flip your class?" And the answer has been and always will be the same. For me, I wanted more time to get to know my students, understand who they were individually, and find a better way to support each and every one of them as they grew older. The traditional method of teaching - welcome to class, sit down, correct homework, lecture on new lesson, homework with time remaining - just wasn't cutting it for me. There was little time to support students' educational needs, much less their emotional and social.


As I transitioned to Flipped Learning some eight years ago, I am reminded of the quote above by Alfie Kohn. The more time I had to get to know my students and understand their individual needs, the better equipped I was to provide the resources each student needed. The more I provided opportunities for students to collaborate and choose paths that would lead to their success, the harder they actually worked. The more students trusted that I valued who they were and treated them as an individual rather than a grade, the more they opened up and sought guidance and help - not always related to math.

I don't make the following statement to sound confident or arrogant, rather to show the power in seeing students for who they are. I very rarely have any behavioral issues in my classroom. Yes, I have the occasional student that is defiant and rebellious. However, that behavior and mindset dissipate after some long, intense conversations that get to the root cause of the issue. And the 'normal' defiant behavior that comes with teenage hormones rarely is present when students are given trust and respect to be who they are.

The intentional design of my Flipped Classroom promotes decision making at the student level. Where do you want to sit? What practice group do you want to participate in today? What extension activities do you wish to complete, and how would you like to share them with me and classmates? My transparency and honesty from day one about learning in math - that learning is not about knowing the answer but knowing what to do when you don't know the answer - helps students understand exactly what Brain Aspinall said in his Tweet. 

Some 8 years later, I still believe and practice putting students first. Giving students the freedom to use their personal devices freely, trusting they are using them appropriately. When 'issues' arise, they are always confronted with trying to understand WHY before we address the WHAT now. Students know when they are wrong and know how to correct behavior. They also understand their character and choices effect how many decisions they are able to make. After all, we are teaching them about to become an adult in our society.

As I continue to learn and grow as an educator, I know technology will play a major role in the landscape of education. Yet, I hold on to my core values and what I believe make a teacher great - compassion, honesty, respect, and love. As we examine who we are as teachers, let us not forget about what is at the core of each and every student - an individual looking for acceptance, individuality, and room to grow. As I hear from past students about their career endeavors, triumphs, and tribulations, I am encouraged to know I am making an impact, as are many of you!

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