Sunday, March 17, 2013

Flipping Flipped Learning

I have heard teachers using the words "flipping my classroom" to describe videos they are creating and posting, to engage, to motivate, to teach skills to learners. The phrase has morphed into a cliché for a new teaching style that is really 20th century teaching in disguise. Teacher-centered instruction, whether delivered in a classroom or at home via the Internet, does little to engage learners to think critically, to experiment and discover, to scratch the surface and provide deep learning.

As I am constantly learning how to be a better educator, myself, I am repeatedly reminded that making mistakes, learning from mistakes and reflecting on learning is the only way I will change how I teach and how others will learn from me. I am an instructional technologist whose job it is to design and deliver professional development that advances and refines educators' integration skills, not only to integrate technology use but to transform the profession so that student learning is the focus and is maximized beyond the expected, beyond a student "doing his best" (Hattie, John) but rather to exceed the status quo and help students grow into skillful learners and problem solvers regardless of their situation. So while tech integration is a focus for the work that I do, it is not the driving force behind what motivates me to want to improve the teacher effect on student learning and achievement.

While flipping the classroom sounds like a fantastic way to motivate the digital learners of today, true engagement and deep levels of learning requires so much more. For students to feel like the classroom environment is a safe place to experiment and challenge their own skills and make mistakes, the teacher needs to establish a relationship with students as individuals and foster the relationship between peers. Students need to provide and receive feedback in order to self-reflect and improve their own skills and learning. Students can not merely learn a set of strategies; they need to practice using strategies (and be able to choose the strategy most appropriate) in the authentic learning environment under the guidance of the educator and in the social arena of peers who can help improve their thinking.

Students need to view learning through the eyes of the teacher in much the same way that teachers need to view learning through the eyes of their students. This is where flipping flipped learning can play a role in transforming good teaching into mastery level teaching and surface learning into deep, mastery, conceptual learning.

Instead of teachers creating lecture-based, teacher centered instruction to be viewed by learners at home, teachers need to facilitate students as teachers. The teacher who already has deep content knowledge should facilitate challenging learning as students create teaching videos filled with new understanding based on opportunities for discovery, inquiring and deep and shared learning. Teachers learn alongside students, strengthen skills by appropriately pushing students to exceed the expected learning achievements. Provide students with feedback, expect them to ask questions and guide them as they seek answers. Model peer evaluation; require peers to provide one another feedback. Teaching students to teach, reflect and improve will help exceed teaching achievements and develop intrinsically motivated life-long learners. Flip notions of flipped learning by stepping outside the 20th century model of teacher and create students whose learning is explicit, appropriately challenging and includes opportunities for providing respectful peer and educator feedback by way of social commentary.

"...the greatest effects on student learning occur when teachers become learners of their own teaching, and when students become their own teachers" (Hattie, John).

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