– Jake Habegger –
Winter break can be a time to rejuvenate, evaluate the past year, and look ahead to what may be on the horizon for the year to come. If you are like me, you may be interested in going even further to create a classroom environment that reaches every student, every day. Everyone is at a different place in their own flipped journey, and I have some advice to help propel you toward the next level for 2020 based on where you would consider yourself to be as 2019 closes.
New to Flipped Learning
Congratulations! You have walked into a world that will transform you as a teacher and your students as learners. At this point, if you are the same as I was, you are a bit overwhelmed with the question, “Where do I even start?” I recommend you look into one or more of the following to help guide you:
- Take a certification course through the Flipped Learning Global Initiative. This will help you learn the basics of what makes a great flipped classroom and how to do this in your own classroom! https://learn.flglobal.org/?ref=dc3018
- Listen to the Flipped Learning Worldwide podcast. This is where I learned how to get started! Most episodes are conversations with flipped educators sharing why they flipped, how they flipped, and what their classroom is like now.
- Pick up/download a book on Flipped Learning. Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams wrote the classic introductory book, Flip Your Classroom, (2012) as well as many content-specific books since. Each one is a relatively quick read. They are perfect for busy educators!
- Get familiar with the best practices of Flipped Learning: GEEFL (Global Elements of Effective Flipped Learning). This chart will help you navigate what an effective flipped classroom looks like. (Believe me, even advanced practitioners can always find things to improve when reflecting on GEEFL!)
- Steal from the best. Looking for some activities to use in your flipped classroom? Check out The 3.0 Exchange! This is a “Teachers Pay Teachers” style store aligned with GEEFL to ensure quality instructional materials to get you started!
In your first year of flipping
I am guessing you have a mix of emotions right now. You have been amazed by what your students are capable of when you have more time and can reach every student, in every class, every day. At the same time, you may be completely exhausted, trying to stay ahead with content creation, planning in-class activities, etc. My advice is to keep pressing forward! Once you make it through the first year, the workload can lighten up considerably. Now that there is a basic format established, you will be able to go through and renovate based on what you learned in the first year. You will make it! Here are a couple of ideas to help with the load:
- Get expert group space help. Planning for the individual space can be a time drain for the first year or two. Check out The 3.0 Exchange to get help with group space activities aligned to GEEFL to ensure quality instructional materials to get you through this year!
- Have authentic conversations with students. Ask students what is working and what isn’t! If students know you value their opinion and will not be offended, most are more than happy to give constructive criticism to make the class better!
- Build a support network. Having veteran flippers around you who can reassure you that what you are feeling is normal can help you keep your head above water! Join one of the many Flipped Learning Global Initiative’s Community Groups. Group topics range from specific subject area groups, Tips for New Flips, to groups focusing on the best uses of the group space.
- Follow what other flippers are doing. Connect with people on Twitter via #flipclass or #flippedlearning or join #flipclasschat to have great group discussions!
- Attend a technology conference. Many conferences have one or multiple sessions on the flipped classroom, blended learning, personalized learning, etc. Learn from the wisdom of others and make sure to connect with them afterward! Speakers at conferences are there because they want to help!
Several years of flipping experience
For me, this was the point where I felt comfortable with the basics. I was ready to see what was out there – what different approaches could I be taking in the group space in my classroom? For me, the obvious choice was Mastery Learning. What could work for you?
- Learn from the masters. The advanced certification courses through the Flipped Learning Global Initiative are waiting for you! They are full of experts from around the globe from kindergarten to the university level in a variety of subject areas showing the creative ways class time can now be used to go even deeper with students! (My personal top three favorite uses of class time are Socratic Seminars, Project-Based Learning, and Mastery Learning.)
- Time to check yourself against GEEFL (Global Elements of Effective Flipped Learning). You may have discovered that you finally have more time to fine-tune your classroom- let GEEFL become your personal trainer!
- Take a serious inventory of your classroom. By this point, you have realized that the rules of how school works are more traditions than anything. It may be time to ask yourself some deep questions about the issues in your classroom that a traditional teacher would respond by saying, “Well, that’s just the way it is.” A flipped teacher at this point is in a better position to rethink old misconceptions and look outside of the box for solutions.
- Ask your students what you should do. Undoubtedly, the single most important lesson I have learned over the past five years is to give regular, detailed surveys to my students. I am able to assess what is working for my students, what is not, and hear advice from the most important people in the room on how it could be better. If I did not do this, I would not be half the teacher I am today! Sample Mr. Habegger’s Semester 1 Survey
- Visit other flipped classrooms. Hopefully, you have heard about local flippers in your area. See if they would allow you to go and observe how other flipped practitioners are running their classrooms! Every time I meet with a different flipper, I find something that I can bring back to make my class just a little better! If you cannot do this, take a flipper out for coffee and pick their brain! Authentic conversations with those heading in the same direction can inspire both parties!
4+ Years of flipping experience
At this point, you have probably identified the best ways for you to utilize your group space, paired with your most effective ways to have students engage in the individual space. If you are beginning to feel “comfortable,” you may be like me and feel like, “Now what?” You have been changing the way the game is played for years now- where can you go? Here are a few avenues to consider:
- Present at conferences/professional development in your school and beyond. We need experienced practitioners who have had appropriate training to pass on their knowledge to others and share the gifts you have been given!
- Focus on helping another teacher on their flipped journey. You remember how difficult it was at the beginning. In my experience, I was in a silo at the start- it was exhausting. If I had a mentor who could have walked me through some best practices, it would have been extremely beneficial. Be that person for someone else!
- Look into a technology coordinator/administrative/district-level position. Many flipped teachers have found in the past few years that brand new roles are opening up that crave people with creative solutions to educational problems. Flipped teachers generally fall into this category!
- Blog about your journey, join/lead Twitter chats, and so on! Teachers thrive on hearing about other teachers’ journeys- it helps show that “normal” people can move outside their comfort zones and change the world!
- Be bold: try something different! Just because you have found inquiry learning to be effective for your students, try branching out to project-based learning, mastery learning, Socratic Seminars, etc. The best surgeons in the world have a bag of tricks to help no matter what they encounter- we should be the same way. Having multiple approaches can further personalized learning in your classroom!
To better reach all students for 2020 in my own classroom, I have introduced the concept of Unessays this semester. One of my areas of improvement for 2020 is to help students make more personal connections with the curriculum. I believe that the Unessay will be able to help me greatly in this arena- check it out for yourself!
Regardless of where you are on your journey, always look for your next step- the adventure never ends! As Arthur Ashe once said, “Success is a journey, not a destination. The doing is often more important than the outcome.”