Thursday, October 11, 2012


I had an article written up about my flipped classroom in the local paper last week.  Since then I've had a few emails from folks in the county interested in the method and will have a few visitors checking it out the next couple of weeks.  I felt pretty awkward about it in some ways since I don't have any delusions about being the best teacher or that my classroom is the model for others.

Aaron Sams said in one of the Flipped Learning network podcasts that he views flipped classrooms as a bridge and I totally took that to heart.  At the last inservice day I presented to other science teachers in my county and we were a good 25 or so minutes in before I mentioned anything about videos at all.  I focused almost entirely on pedagogy, on the idea of diving deeper, of having students focus more on inquiry each day in class, of setting them up to seek out their own answers. I expressly stated my belief that the flipped classroom is a good bridge to get from a traditional classroom to the totally student centered and driven class that does PBL and inquiry most of the time (if not all).

So on my twitter feed I see a lot of folks who either don't get that or perhaps just hate the idea of flipclass, maybe because they perceive it as the flavor du jour in education because of Khan Academy.  Now I ask for some of this as I purposely follow some critics of the system.  I don't want my PD experience on twitter to be an unquestioning echo chamber by any stretch. What gets me is the idea that teachers seem to think we have to sign up on teams for or against everything.

Are you for Team Flip or Team Modeling?  Team Inquiry or Team Lecture? To me it seems almost as ridiculous as the Twilight thing a couple of years ago (and maybe still...) Team Edward or Team Jacob, let's fight about it...

Two things really brought it up for me, this blog post by Shelley Wright was the first of them.  I read through this article saying yes over and over again, except for the idea that she would never go back to flip.  As I read through the whole thing my conclusion, I was like, wait, I thought this was a flipped classroom, student centered, self paced, students seeking out knowledge with assistance when needed.  This part in particular hit me

I talked to every student every day. I could look at their work, have them articulate their thinking process, and see where they were struggling. I could spend time helping those who really needed it.
I thought to myself, wait, that is what I do every day too, and I thought I was doing a flipped classroom.   From the sound of the article it was that starting out with the videos and that concept led to other pieces of student driven education.  Which I think is what most flippers out there, at least the ones I converse with are after.  Are there folks out there that just do videos as lecture and then "homework" in class and have that as their whole idea of what it is?  I guess so, but that definitely isn't the center of it.  Join #flipclass chat any Monday night at 8est and that is one of our taglines "it's not about the videos".

Don't get me wrong, I don't think Ms. Wright's article is wrong, it was very edifying to me, I love seeing stories of teachers who actually did it, who are there where I think I'm headed too, offering the best for their students.  But I think I'll always consider myself a flipper, because the real flip is not the homework/lecture flip, but the teacher first to student first.  That's the essential thing.  It's the first thing I talk about whenever I discuss flip.  My mechanic for doing that is some videos at the moment, but that is the praxis, not the pedagogy.  And I can easily anticipate a day when they won't need the videos, in fact, a lot don't right now, and that's great!

The point of my whole post is that I don't get why we have to divide ourselves up into teams.  Didn't we learn anything from the whole language/phonics thing?  The only winners of that fight were companies selling stuff to schools.  We need to spend a lot more time listening to each other and learning, sitting down and getting what is best for our particular classrooms, schools, and most importantly, the students.

As an example, this past Saturday I was a little upset at some tweets by @irasocol about homework.  To me it was as though he was saying HW was always evil.  So we engaged in a dialogue and while I can't say that I fully agree with his view, I did learn a lot and he pointed me to a lot of really thought provoking stuff.  I came out of the conversation smarter and with some new ideas.  I also got reinforced that when you actually engage with a person they become well, a person, not just some random things in your feed that get you going.

We need to quit choosing teams, or at least demonizing the other side.  I root for the Steelers, but if the Ravens beat us it isn't that they are demonic or evil (well...).

Get exposed to a lot of views of education and make informed decisions about your pedagogy for your students.  Don't join a team, team up with your students.

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