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The success of any initiative—including personalizing the classroom—relies on the professional development and resources educators receive. 

 

 

By:  Aaron Sams & Jon Bergmann
 

It’s an exciting time in education. With the adoption of dynamic and interactive learning environments, like flipped learning, comes the great promise of all students graduating better prepared for success in the world.

But these blended learning models aren’t just new to students. They are new to everyone – including teachers and school leaders.

It’s now clearer than ever that the success of any initiative—including personalizing the classroom—relies on the professional development and resources educators receive.

In our work with educators around the world, we’ve found that it’s the teachers that need to be at the center of the conversation when it comes to professional learning—especially when learning how to flip a class.

Many teachers start out flipping their classes and soon find out that this method of teaching is far harder than they thought. It gets frustrating when the videos, sweated over long after school hours, don’t get watched by students. At this point many teachers give up and go back to the traditional formats.

If you are one of those teachers or school leaders who are struggling to implement flipped learning, here are five questions you should ask before you give up.

• Are you re-doing the lecture for students who don’t watch the video?
Do not bail out students who make poor choices. By “re-lecturing” you are sending a message to those who did their work that their work was pointless and you are telling those who don’t do their work that they don’t have to do it.

• Did you teach your students how to watch the flipped videos?
Don’t assume that all students know how to watch an educational video. Spend class time teaching them how to watch a video. See our blog post about this where we go into much greater detail.

• Did you create your own videos or use someone else's?
Experience shows us that students are more likely to watch flipped videos created by their own teachers.  We know this takes extra time and for some this will mean learning some new software, but we are educators, and learning should be in our blood.  Watch this short video of a teacher who moved from using other people's content to his own and see how his flipped class changed.
 

• Are you making the in-class time rich, meaningful, and helpful?
The key to the flipped class is not the videos, it is the quality activities that you do in the class. For some committed lecturers, moving to a more student centered approach to teaching will be difficult and they may not know exactly how to make that transition. 

Scour the internet for ideas for what to do in class, or read one of the books like Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day.  There are many more resources, by grade level at:  https://www.iste.org/resources/product?id=2285

• Have you made access to the videos simple? 
There is not one universal way to post or link to videos, but the key is to have a simple procedure that will enable students to easily and seamlessly access your flipped videos. Many teachers use learning management systems to post content so that students can always go to the same place every time. Others have a YouTube channel, others use QR codes, still others share videos using a service like Google drive. If access to technology outside the class is an issue, consider distributing your video content on USB drive or a DVD.

The content and the quality matter, of course. But it’s more than that. We want to be able to provide the same flipped learning for teachers that we are asked to implement for their students.

Flipped learning is compelling vision for the nation’s students. Yet no matter how significant the possibilities to better prepare students for success beyond graduation, effective and sustainable implementation depends on what is being done to prepare and support teachers today.

There’s a lot of PD out there to help educators implement digital, 1:1 initiatives. One coordinated effort in this direction is FlippedClass.com and Knowledge Delivery Systems (KDS) who joined forces to develop, “The Flipped Classroom: Personalizing the Classroom to Reach Each Student Every Day.” It’s a dynamic online course that empowers teacher learning and helps bring flipped learning best practices into the classroom.

Classroom success starts with the teacher.

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