Flipped Learning and Control

I was able to join some fantastic educators today last Friday for a Flipped Learning workshop hosted by the Michigan Association of Secondary School Principals. I was part of a group from TechSmith, while Dan Spencer, Laura Bell, Jonathan Palmer, Missy McCarthy, Delia Bush, David Fouch, and Greg Green were panelists for the workshop.

I’ve been acquainted with Greg since I heard about his plans to flip his entire high school. I met him in person this past fall, and I’ve been challenged by his thoughtfulness and questions ever since.

Last fall, Greg and I had a conversation about why he flipped Clintondale…he wanted more control.

Confession: I didn’t understand what he meant at all. I was actually a little put off by the discussion…why should we want to control the learning more? Don’t we (as teachers) want students to be in control of their own learning? Needless to say, I left feeling confused, but invigorated by the discussion.

Fast forward to this morning. Greg was sharing again about the control he wanted to regain, and it hit me like a ton of bricks. He didn’t flip to control student’s learning. He flipped to give teachers more control over the support for learning they give every day in the classroom. It made so much sense.

We are at a point where information and support are constantly in a power struggle. As teachers, we are faced with the decision to choose one or the other. Do we support students? Or do we give information? Up until recently, there has not been any other option besides choice because the teacher was the only source of information in the classroom.

Enter personal computing. Students today have access to any information they could want. As the teacher, we can now focus even more energy into supporting the student. The control Greg talked about was being able to control the support given during the school day. We know students (typically) ignore homework. Well, now we can eliminate it totally, and support practice in the classroom. We know students have a hard time engaging with science and math. Now, we can give access to information, and the support our students as they build new schema for understanding as they work through material.

The key to this is that we successfully blend the access to information and the support only a teacher can give. Flipped Learning does not eliminate the need for teachers. Flipped Learning accentuates the importance of a supportive, professional educator when working with students.

I’m still working through what this means for school reform, but I’m excited about it. This is a message that teachers can latch on to. It’s empowering, rather than discrediting. You’re more important than ever. Let’s make the choice to let information become on-demand and put the support of students back on top of the list of things to do to change schools.

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