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The Flipped Classroom Culture: And How to Leverage It

May 27, 2019

I've been thinking about how to go about writing this post for some time now.  And here's why.  I am huge believer in the power of the culture of your classroom.  I believe it is the undercurrent of every single classroom, contributed to by every facet of the classroom, and does not overlook anyone in the room with its impact.

In the flipped classroom, it is imperative - and this is the main takeaway I want you to get - I'll say it again, IMPERATIVE that you as the teacher spend time consciously thinking about and anticipating your flipped classroom culture.  You'll see what I mean by this as you get deeper into this post, but to quickly show the significance here I'll say that you don't want to do all this work in flipping your classroom just to have a traditional classroom culture that sabotages all that work you've done.

The good news is that it's largely in your control.  The not so good news is that, well, it can totally sabotage all this hard work you're doing.  And that's part of that Flipped Classroom Foresight we spoke about in the last post - foreseeing obstacles and proactively planning for them.

So when you go to do the work of thinking about and anticipating the culture of your flipped classroom, below you'll find some things I want you to think about incorporating into that culture.

Now, first, we must talk about how in the world you impact your classroom culture.  First of all, what even is it?  And even if I know what it is, how do I change it?  Simply put, your classroom culture is the feel of your room, which is a direct reflection of how YOU feel in and about, and what YOU believe within your classroom.  When I say "you" in that sentence, I mean YOU, the teacher. Not the mythical, hypothetical you that could apply to students.  Nope, you - the teacher.  THE number ONE influencer in a child's education.

For instance, if you believe that all children are simply looking for the absolute quickest and easiest way to do the minimum amount of anything to reap the benefits they're after in your classroom, you wouldn't be totally off base, that's going to impact how you perceive and, in turn, interact with your students.

Likewise, if you believe that every child can learn, no matter their pace or motivation level, they can do it, you just need to harness the right resources to get them there, that too will influence and determine how you perceive and interact with each of your students.

So, really, it's what YOU believe and how that impacts the way you show up for your students.  Add to that then all the decisions you make on the structures, procedures, and processes of your classroom, and you've really got a tangible, powerful aspect of your students' education.

Back to the main point- how do we influence it?  Well, that's another post, but for now, I want you to consider the following mantras that I want you to repeat to yourself now, and throughout the year you decide to flip your classroom.  If you say them enough, and believe them enough, you'll start to see the way you can make changes in your classroom that build the culture you and your students need for your flipped classroom to be successful.

Mantras of the Flipped Classroom

Learning is Messy

... and we should show it.  Help your students see what it means in your classroom for learning to be messy and how they'll know if they are getting messy in your classroom.  It means they are making mistakes, they are answering questions even if they feel like their answer is not 100% correct, and should feel comfortable taking risks to show their knowledge.  They should be confused and should be challenging the material with questions.  Don't look at the content as simply a challenge for them --> help them to challenge the material itself.

I am not the beholder of all knowledge

You as the teacher in the room, are not the beholder of all knowledge.  If you are - meaning if you are the main source of knowledge for your students - phew, that's exhausting, and, your students are missing out.  Big time.  I repeat this mantra to my students often.  

So what does this look like in the classroom?  This looks like when a student asks a question and I don't see or hear many other students who know the answer, and I say, "Look, I'm not the beholder of all knowledge.  Sure, I know this answer, but I'm not the one who needs to know."

I also do a little something called "Did You Knows."  This is where, in the gameboard system I use, which I wrote about in my How I failed my students post, students could earn extra game points if they brought in an interesting piece of information or a fun fact.  Students should get used to challenging you and each other because it means, at minimum, they are talking, out-loud about your content... and that's a win my friends.

Don't NOT get the content

When students walk in my classroom and I'm checking their notes (or reading guides, or in-class activities), they are to filling in any blanks they have.  That probably sends up a red flag for most teachers because you think, "Wait, isn't that them not getting the content on their own?" or "They should've gotten that in the time they were supposed to, as homework, so they shouldn't get it now."

I don't completely disagree with you when it comes to measuring students' understanding or mastery of a concept, but in the instance of me checking their notes, reading guides, or in-class activities, I want to be sure they are just getting it.  Now, I set up parameters... I tell them what that time can and can't look like.  For instance, it can NOT look like a student saying, "Hey, I didn't get this set of notes done.  Can I see your notes real fast and get down what you have?"  NOPE!  Stop right there - there's a different process for that (p.s. you should totally have a process in place for students who haven't done the notes), and that's not the scenario I'm allowing students to fill in blanks from.

I let them know that what I want to see is if and when they each have areas of confusion or they missed part of the notes in the video (I'm thinking ONE term or a few seconds, not entire chunks of the video), that they don't have to feel the super unnerving pressure that their notes must be perfect EVERY time.  What it means is that it's ok if you don't get one or two things, and that when they get to my classroom, they'll be talking about it.  Out loud.  With each other.  Say what?  Students talking about what it is that they are learning, out loud?  With each other, with the goal of clarifying knowledge.  You know it.

And that's what I mean by don't NOT get the content.

 

I hope these little mantras have been informative and helpful for you in the process of starting your flipping journey.  I hope they are easy takeaways that can help you form the flipped classroom culture you want, and one that allows your students (and you) to thrive within.

Until next time,

P.S. If this post has been helpful for you on your flipping journey, I hope that you will sign up for our email list so that you don't miss a thing over here at Teach On A Mission, and all the things about flipped classrooms.  Plus, when you sign up here, I'll send you THE Ultimate Flipped Classroom Starter Kit for free!

Another way that I would LOVE to help you on your flipping journey is through a limited time opportunity where I give you 3 Behind-the-Scenes Insights to Flipping Your Classroom based on my almost 10 years of flipping in a LIVE workshop.  There are only two time slots left for this live workshop THIS Wednesday, 5/29/19, so be sure to sign up and do NOT miss it :-) . You can sign up here.

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