If you are going to do anything, do your best. That dictum applies to flipping one’s class as much as to any other endeavor in life. To start, here are a few reasons not to flip. First, do not think that it will save you time. It potentially makes your teaching more effective, but not more efficient in the short term, as either creating videos or gathering and modifying existing videos, audio files, or other resources is a boatload of work. Second, if you think this means that you can kick back in class and have the kids work independently, then you have missed the very essence of flipped teaching. Flipping means turning the basic content knowledge and low-level skill acquisition over to work at home. Class time is reserved for higher-order thinking skills, serious Q&A over issues that confuse the kids, and 1-on-1 instruction. Thinking that kids are going to walk into class and work on worksheets, only raising their hands when they are confused, in a non-starter. So do not flip if you live under these illusions.
So why flip? If you find your class time being taken up with basic content or low-level skill acquisition, then consider flipping. You really want to be working with the kids on the crunchy analysis, synthesis, and judgement levels of thinking. We live in a time when more is expected of teachers both in terms of content and skills than ever before, yet class time has not grown commensurately. A practical way to maximize the time that you do have with your students is to concentrate on the toughest skills when are where students have ready access to you. Flipping, done properly, achieves this end. Yes, it is hard work. No, it does not save you, the teacher, time. At least not in the short run. But you will see a transformation in your class. The kids will quickly figure out that you care because you are actually teaching them skills that they can apply in any productive walk of life.
Life is about relationships. The intense, communal nature of flipped classes are perfect environments for establishing and growing rich, meaningful relationships. Have a go!
When most people think flipped classroom they think “video lecture for homework and discussion/group work in class.” This perception comes from the very first flipped classroom which is credited to Jonathan Bergmann & Aaron Sams. These two teachers flipped their class by recording their lectures online and then allowing the students to complete the labs and assignments in class with a teacher present to assist. So, the concept of a flipped classroom isn’t actually based a desire to use video in class, but rather on teachers who decided that students should be doing the passive aspects of class on their own and the active parts in class where a teacher was there to assist. So, if you are deciding if you should flip your classroom the question that you really need to ask is, are there any passive aspects to my class that could be done outside of class. Or, another way of asking that question is, am I making the best use of the limited amount of time I have in class with my students? If students spend time reading an article or chapter in class maybe it would be better for them to read before class and then bring their questions about the text to class or interact with the text in a new way while the teacher is present. If there are workbook pages that are completed and then corrected in class, maybe students could do them ahead, correct them online and then you could discuss the problem areas in class and have more time for review problems. And of course there is the classic, if there is a lecture that you know the students will need maybe it would be better to have the students listen to it online and then interact with the concept in class through a lab, discussion or simulation.
Flipping your classroom isn’t really about video. Rather it is about making sure that class time is being used as effectively as possible, and sometimes video or another tech can help you do that.
If you want to read more about flipping your classroom this is a really great article by Edudemic that sums up all the basics about flipping your classroom and even provides some resources to use.
Flip with flex! That is what I learned a couple of years ago when I interviewed Kathy Gordon about her flipping efforts. She, like many people, saw flipping as the salvation to all learning in her classroom. She immediately jumped in and learned the tech required to make it happen. For most people, that is the hard part as they usually know their content well enough.
She learned that flipping is super, but that it works better in some classes than others. In her classes with accelerated learners it was tremendously helpful and instructive. It allowed students to progress at a reasonable and/or quick rate as they saw fit. And to be available to help other students who are not moving as fast.
Later, as she began to flip with her less accelerated students, she found it did not work as well. These students struggled with focus and finishing assignments on time and a pure flip model was not as successful for them. They did better with a partial flip situation. Essentially more handholding.
I was surprised to hear this as I thought this new model was perfect for all things and would eventually bring world peace or something. It reminded me that testing, assessing and then pivoting any new system is an awesome way to bring the best out of somewhere.