“Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.” – St. Jerome
This is a nice saying, but does it really apply in education? Our job as educators is tough. There isn’t enough time in the day to get it all done, so we tend to look for a different way or more efficient way of doing what we are already doing. The real question is: Do we want easier or better? The truth is that if we want a better way of doing something, it tends to require more from us (at first). No one starts out teaching thinking, “I hope that someday I can be the most lukewarm, average, bare-minimum teacher my students will ever have.” Unfortunately, though, it is easy to fall into a lukewarm, average, bare minimum mindset, especially when all we are trying to do is survive the day. I became that lukewarm, average teacher through the course of eight years. I didn’t start out there, but it’s where I ended up. Educators tend to end up in places that they never intended because they don’t have a destination in mind, and without a destination, we get lost along the way.
All too often we have our students set goals rooted in a growth mindset that says there is always a lesson to be learned or growth to be made, even in the face of failure. We expect failure and steady improvement from our students, but what about ourselves? Most educators have goals or things they would like to accomplish: build better relationships with their students, figure out how to take less home in the evenings, create a more engaging learning environment, build more differentiation into their lessons, etc. But for any of those things to happen, vision must be present. Vision is what guides us to our destination, wherever that destination may be. The Flipped Learning Global Standards provide teachers with something that is rare in the world of education: a common understanding of educational terminology and how to implement it well. They are the vision. They are the roadmap to guide your Flipped Learning practice.
As I looked at the standards that the Academy of Active Learning Arts and Sciences (AALAS) released, I asked myself the question: “What am I supposed to do with these? Are they like my state standards (things I am required to teach), or do they serve a different purpose?” Let’s begin with defining the word “standard” as it is intended when discussing Flipped Learning Global Standards (FLGS).
Standards are 1) a level of quality or attainment and 2) an idea or thing used as a measure, norm, or model in comparative evaluations.
Unlike the standards we teach, the FLGS is a measurement tool to determine if the strategies we are employing are the best way of using Flipped Learning in our classrooms. For so long, educators have been working off of an interpretation of what Flipped Learning meant to them, and when it came to applying that approach to the curriculum, the term Flipped Learning was being attached to numerous other instructional approaches, such as blended learning, e-learning, or even simply technology integration. The standards were designed specifically to define the effective implementation of Flipped Learning. Standards are rooted in a common understanding of purpose, and divisions are drawn through clear understanding. AALAS created a new definition of Flipped Learning that paints a clearer picture of what it genuinely is:
“Flipped Learning is a framework that enables educators to reach every student. The Flipped approach inverts the traditional classroom model by introducing course concepts before class, allowing educators to use class time to guide each student through active, practical, innovative applications of the course principles.”
This new definition allows for a consensus standard for what Flipped Learning is, and helps teachers to determine if what they are doing can genuinely be called, “Flipped Learning.” AALAS has also released new standards to help teachers move from good to better to best in their application of this powerful meta-strategy. These standards enable teachers to evaluate their implementation of a flipped classroom. They guide educators to be able to evaluate what they are currently doing in their classroom to see what needs to be improved.
All teachers want to provide their students with the best education possible. The FLGS enables teachers to be reflective of how they are approaching Flipped Learning, and they are also able to be proactive in their implementation of Flipped Learning.
While we now have clear standards to guide educators to a destination of becoming the best flipped educators they can be, the story of Flipped Learning is still being written. Innovation is at the core of Flipped Learning, and educators are encouraged to push the envelope and modify it. Having standards allows us to know what the baseline is for effective implementation: a minimum of excellence. But where you go from there – and just how amazing of a teacher you become – is what will make your good, better, and your better your best.