Scaling Flipped Learning Part 2: Shifting Pedagogy

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As flipped learning continues to grow, there is a greater need for flipped learning to scale beyond individual teachers flipping, to larger roll-outs with systemic planning and leadership. This article is the second in a series on flipped learning.

Individual teachers across the world who are flipping their classes, are often working in isolation and small pockets. However, as the movement has grown, there is an increasing need to think systemically about how to scale flipped learning.

I believe three systems need to change for flipped learning to flourish on a large scale in a school or district: technological systems, pedagogical systems, and evaluation methodologies. In the last issue of ETS where I present the first article in this series, I discussed how technological systems need to be integrated, workflows need to be simplified, and technology infrastructure needs to support flipped learning. The focus of this post will be to examine how pedagogical systems need to adapt for flipped learning to thrive on a large scale. Educational researchers have been studying learning for a very long time. In 2005, Patricia Cross wrote an article entitled: “What Do We Know About Students’ Learning and How Do We Know it?” She summarized with seven principles:

  • Good practice encourages student-teacher contact.
  • Good practice encourages cooperation among students.
  • Good practice encourages active learning.
  • Good practice gives prompt feedback.
  • Good practice emphasizes time on task.
  • Good practice communicates high expectations.
  • Good practice respects diverse talents and ways of knowing.

Ms. Cross goes on to state, “Active learning is the grand meta-principle.” This principle was recently confirmed during an interview with Dr. Baohui Zhang from Shaanxi Normal University for my radio show. In our conversation, I asked, “Why does flipped learning work?.” Dr. Zhang replied simply, “It is because students are more active in their classrooms.” But, are the vast majority of classrooms active places of learning? Are students engaged, interested, collaborating, and challenged? The sad fact is that too many classrooms are teacher-centered, focused on information transfer, and not active places of learning.

So how can schools and systems scale flipped learning from the perspective of pedagogy? Below are few suggestions:

  • Mindset Change – For a large scale adoption of flipped learning to occur, teachers must believe that active learning is superior to passive learning. Mindset change is the most critical step. Without an underlying mindset change, flipped learning will have little impact.
  • Collaboration and Teaming – The best flipped examples I have observed, have been when groups of teachers plan and implement flipped learning together. Administrators should identify key teachers who have made the mental switch, and support them through the flipped learning transformation. Make flipped learning teams a part of the fabric of your school.
  • Model Flipped Learning – If flipped learning is good for students, then it is an even better idea for professional development. When schools flip their PD, teachers will themselves be engaged in an active learning experience.
  • Actually Do it – I have met many teachers who say they believe in active learning, yet don’t practice it. Maybe it is time for administrators to give reluctant teachers a gentle nudge, while providing the support they will need to change.

Ultimately, the goal of flipped learning is for teachers to create active places of learning. Let’s not just flip classes; let’s flip schools! Start having those deep conversations about pedagogical systems and practices.

Weigh in. What pedagogical structures need to change in order for flipped learning to be adopted at scale.

Teacher Evaluation

As more and more schools adopt flipped learning on a larger scale, there is a need to think systemically about evaluation systems. During my twenty-four years as a classroom teacher, I was evaluated many times by administrators. The vast majority of these evaluations consisted of the principal sitting in my class and watching me “teach.” He or she took notes, plugged the information into a rubric, and then later we sat down and discussed how things went. Since most of my class was a teacher-centered presentation, I strived for great presentations which engaged my students, inspired their curiosity, and sparked rich questioning. Later, during our evaluation meeting we would discuss the lesson, how I could have improved, my goals for the year, and how I planned to make myself better. In many ways, the focus of the conversation focused on delivery of information: how I could be clearer, how more students could understand the content, and how to engage the unengaged.

But then I flipped my class, and direct content delivery happened outside of class. The students accessed the flipped videos on their own time. The typical evaluation systems didn’t fit into the traditional rubrics.

During my second year of flipping my class, I was up for a review. My principal Del Garrick, came in for his yearly evaluation. He sat down to watch the class and didn’t get what he was expecting. Instead of a teacher-centered presentation, kids were actively engaged in learning from the start, with what appeared to be little prompting from me. As I was interacting with kids, I turned to Del and asked him to take part in helping some students with an experiment, and for him to be a part of the learning environment. When we met later, our conversation was not about how I could present content more explicitly, but rather, about how flipped learning leads to active students. Del told me that the rubric didn’t apply. Then he added, “I get it. Kids are active, engaged, and learning. Keep up the good work.”

A few years ago I had a chance to chat with Greg Green, the principal of Clintondale High School; the first fully flipped school in the world. We discussed how he evaluated his teachers, and he told me that before they flipped, 80% of class time was teacher-centered, and 20% was student-centered. After the school had flipped, the numbers flipped. Now only 20% of class time is teacher-centered, and 80% is student-centered. He then built the 80-20 rule into his evaluation system, and he expects that classes will have much less teacher talk-time and much more student activity time.

As a school expands flipped learning, it is imperative that the evaluation systems get redrawn. Below are a few evaluative areas which should be addressed when you scale flipped learning:

  • Pre-Watch the Flipped Video – Since a flipped class hinges on students doing the pre-work, it will be best if the principal views the same video as the students before observing a class.
  • Evaluate the Flipped Video – Since students consume content via a flipped video; there is a need for administrators to evaluate the videos teachers create. Videos should not just disseminate information, but have built-in interactive elements which engage students.
  • Evaluate Class Activities – Does the in-class activity match the purpose of the lesson? How engaging is the in-class activity? To what extent are students on task and learning?
  • Evaluate Teacher-Student Interactions – What is the quality of interactions between the teacher and his or her students? To what extent does the teacher get to every student? Are the questions differentiated for students with varied abilities? Does the teacher guide instead of tell?
  • Evaluate Student-Student Interactions – Students all over the world say they love flipped classrooms because of how much time they get to work together. What is the level of student-student interactions? Are they probing, questioning, and solving problems without teacher assistance? Flipped classrooms transfer ownership of the class to students, so in an exceptional flipped class, you will observe deep student conversations.
  • Expect Noise – Flipped classrooms are not usually quiet. They are busy and active. Don’t expect to find kids quietly sitting in desks.

Chime in. In what other areas do you think we need to change the teacher evaluation system as schools adopt flipped learning wholesale?

Jon Bergmann is one of the pioneers of the Flipped Class Movement. Jon is leading the worldwide adoption of flipped learning by working with governments, schools, corporations and education non-profits. He is the author of seven books, including the bestselling book: Flip Your Classroom, which has been translated into 10 languages. He is the founder of the global FlipCon conferences, which are dynamic engaging events that inspire educators to transform their practice through flipped learning.

PART ONE of this article can be found HERE

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