Flipped Learning Teachers Can Move Us From Crisis to Opportunity

Special / May 27, 2020

– Maureen O’Shaughnessy, Ed.D – 

In reading the Flipped Learning success stories in the FLR, Flipped Learning teachers around the world see themselves mirrored back. Flipped Mastery Learning is the secret weapon needed to combat the challenges faced in today’s educational world. Many large school systems aren’t able to reach every student, in regular or extraordinary times while Flipped Learning teachers can and do! These teachers have been carrying the torch of learning in these times of remote learning and uncertainty. They are the ones who use active learning strategies and relationships with students to keep learning happening…no matter what is going on in the world. They can move us from crisis to continued learning.

Your schools need you. So wonderful Flipped Learning teachers, do you feel it? Can you sense how great of a difference you are making in the educational landscape? As an administrator, I see it every day. The Flipped Learning teachers in my micro-school, LEADPrep, are being lauded by parents and students in these crazy days of remote learning. We need all of you to feel this difference and take steps to ensure that ALL of our students experience active and engaged learning, no matter the delivery method. Can you take this success and come to the rescue of your grade level, department, or school?

It is time to get like-minded teachers onboard and lead the change that our educational model needs. It’s up to you. You know your students and have been able to keep your relationships alive, even remotely. Learning continued in your online classrooms, with your active learning investment paying off as students stayed engaged. Socrates reminds us, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.”

Building on your Flipped Learning success

How can you build on this Flipped Learning success? In the previous articles of this column, we addressed: YOU are an educational pioneer! (Feb, 2020). What is a school-within-a-school (SWAS)? (Mar 2020). And analyzing the micro-school potential in your building (Apr 2020). In that last article we looked back at life after starting a flipped SWAS in your school and reviewed the three key steps you took:

First, you did your homework and developed a list of the reasons a flipped micro-school would benefit your students and teachers.

Second, you convinced colleagues to try teaching in this Flipped Learning SWAS model for a year. You started with getting one other teacher to share this SWAS vision and built alliances from there.

Third, you took the pilot plan to your administration and explained there would be minimal added costs, just a need for logistical support. You showed them the statistics and evidence of the student-driven mastery learning that happens in flipped classrooms that feature differentiated instruction.

In this final article of the SWAS/micro-school theme, let’s step back and look at steps I’ve found effective in the micro-schools and SWAS I’ve created.

Begin with a mission

To start, you need a clear mission. Why do you take the time and energy to create Flipped Learning mastery experiences for your students? Clearly, part of your answer is to foster higher-level thinking. Another part is to ensure mastery. And, of course, reaching every student is a driving force. Pull these ideas together in a mission statement to provide direction and fuel innovation.

Recruit energetic and committed trailblazers

You definitely need a few kindred spirits on this journey. Engage fellow teachers, parents who have appreciated your Flipped Learning model, passionate students who wish all their classes were flipped. Emphasize what would make your Flipped Learning SWAS unique and special. You will get much further if you can engage a supportive administrator who will help provide the resources–planning time, stipends to work on this extra project, etc.–but doing so is not required to start this journey. (Please share the related article in this issue, directed to school leaders. It might be the nudge they need!)

Get creative and clear on resources

You already have paid teachers, enrolled students, and a building. These are the biggest items on the list. Now, how can you get creative? What do you need for colleagues to buy in? Time for training and planning? A common prep period? A reduced class size? Jon Bergmann to come train your faculty? Determine what you need and get ready to ask for it.

In January, I started this monthly column to share micro-schools/SWAS as a potential step on your Flipped Learning career path. Now we are wrapping up this theme. You have the basics. My book, Creating Micro-Schools for Colorful Mismatched Kids, unpacks these steps in detail. What’s the good news on this adventure toward creating a Flipped Learning SWAS? You are more than halfway there! You have the funding, adults, and students already in place. But there is one last step….

Open your doors!

Nike has the right motto. “Just do it.” Your schools–and more importantly, your students–need you. There is never enough time, so let the time for transformation be right now. There are always plenty of reasons to be discouraged and not start. But channel that Nike motto and remember that the greatest journey begins with a single step. And then another…. 

Join us as we discuss the ideas in the article with educators around the global at the Second Wave Summit | 2020

Maureen O'Shaughnessy
Dr Maureen O'Shaughnessy
Maureen is the founding director of FLGI’s flagship flipped school, Leadership Preparatory Academy, a 6-12th grade micro-school with campuses in Seattle and Kirkland, WA. She also founded a micro-school in the Andes and a school-within-a-school in a large suburban high school. A fierce and dedicated mother, Maureen is passionately determined to create schools that work for ALL learners. Her K-college teaching has focused on gifted and at-risk learners, and includes leading and creating a community of learners for the Washington State Kaplan online Academy. Dr. O’Shaughnessy is a career educational innovator and school leader who has served in seven international schools and stateside. Her masters and doctoral work focused on systems, educational innovation, and the dilemmas that face innovators. She has served as an accreditation lead for AdvancEd and WASC and is the author of Creating Micro-Schools for Mismatched Kids. Maureen is Flipped Learning 3.0 Level-II Certified.

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