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How to Know If Flipping is Right for You

Apr 06, 2021

As soon as I share about my teaching experience or any teachers share about their current classroom, other teachers may relate to many  similarities in our experiences, but others are able to quickly point out the differences. 

So if I say this:

I taught at a suburban, predominantly white high school with students from all levels of socioeconomic status, teaching 10th grade American History, AP Psychology, and Sociology..

Then other teachers can say, well that’s not my classroom.  I’m elementary or my school was more diverse or I teach ELA, math, science, fine arts, performing arts, health and PE etc.

It’s easy to find the differences in what we do as teachers.

And I must say… isn’t that so beautiful.

In today’s episode I want to highlight not just the differences in all our teaching experiences and classrooms, but more so your individual and incredibly unique classroom.  What you teach, how you teach it, where you teach it, and who you teach it to are all factors that contribute to and create the unique learning environment of your classroom.

There is no one-size fits all approach in education, but in this episode I want to show you  how you can know if flipped learning techniques can work for your classroom.  Notice that I say IF, meaning I know that  it won’t be the answer  for everyone.

And that, really, is my goal here.  That after listening to this episode you will have clarity around how flipping can benefit your unique classroom, and feel equipped with the foundational principles of flipped learning to be ready for the new normal in education.

Here we go…

Hey there and welcome back to the Sustainable Teacher Podcast where we are on a mission to help teachers build sustainable classrooms so they can stay there longer.  We are working to overcome the statistics that show most teachers who leave are leaving at the 5 year mark, and if I’m a betting person, at the end of this school year we’re going to see a large number of teachers leaving the career field, which breaks my heart but is not surprising.

But that’s why we’re here - to have honest conversations about what’s really going on with a mindset to make it better for everyone involved.  And we do that by focusing on aspects of our teaching lives that we can control.

So today we are discussing how to know if flipping is right for your unique classroom  and how it really is the best way to be prepared for the new normal of education.

I’ve got three things for you to consider today when determining if flipping is a good fit, and if you stick around until the end I have a bonus takeaway for you.

Access and Accessibility

The first way to know if flipped learning is a good fit for your unique classroom is to consider access and accessibility.

When I say access I mean how readily your students have access to devices - are there a ton of obstacles in their way to getting access to a device with internet?

And by accessibility I mean to your classroom - what obstacles are in the way of your students easily accessing your classroom and how much do they need access to your classroom outside its four walls?

Let’s consider access to devices first.  Many teachers whose students don’t have ideal access to devices hear about the flipped classroom and immediately determine that it’s not for them.  Although this is a completely understandable determination, and one that many other experts in flipping would come to as well, it’s not one that I subscribe to.

There are so many options for your students even separate from a typical tablet or laptop devices that can be used for the flipped classroom without it being a ton more work for the teacher.

We go over quite a few options inside of my  online course, Flipped Classroom Formula, and I want to share some tips here.

  1. Make sure you know full well what access you students truly have, and not just what they tell you in a beginning-of-the-year survey for instance.  Sit down and have conversations with each student who says they don’t have access because they may have a Playstation, DVD player, or computer (or tv) with a USB port just no internet, all of which can be used to watch your flipped videos.
  2. Just because you want to flip your classroom doesn’t mean you have to rely on student access outside your classroom - do an in-class flip if that is what works best for you and your students.  There are still huge advantages to an in class flip.  The devil is in comparison, and no two flipped classrooms are the same, so do what’s going to be best for your students while taking advantage of the benefits of flipped learning.

Now let’s consider accessibility.  Do you have students who do not come to your class because they are remote?  Do you have students who are frequently absent and need access to your class outside its four walls so that they have some chance of staying caught up in the content?  Or do you have a ridiculously long list of standards and the expectation of getting through it all in just your short class period is ridiculous?

Well then, flipping is your answer.  Creating quality videos with a long life-span will allow you and your students to rise above and remain effective in each of the circumstances I just laid out.  It allows students to rise above being remote, frequently absent, or the exhaustive standards list, and it’s all because of accessibility and a teacher who’s willing to teach them how to be a modern day student outside the four walls of your classroom.


The second way to know if flipping is right for you is to consider your time crunch.   Let me explain what I mean.

No one understands the crunch for time like a teacher, am I right?  At least not in the way that we only have a limited number of days with our students each year and we’ve got a lot to accomplish given their individual and unique needs.

But I’m betting you feel the time crunch in a similar way that I did.

Let me paint a familiar picture for you.  You have so much curriculum or standards to get through that you either are behind on your over ambitious calendar every year, barely ever able to get through it or you compromise all the cool and fun stuff just so you can actually get to covering the content.

I felt this way in my 11th and 12th grade AP Psychology course.  It’s an advanced placement course with a heck of a lot of standards to get through, and the traditional way to make certain you get to all the standards is just to lecture, everyday - lecture, quiz, lecture, quiz.  It’s the only way I felt comfortable covering the content because  otherwise I was using up too much time.  And for the most part it was an effective strategy… at least for my  high performing and mostly  middle of the road students.  But with my exhaustion and less than stellar (but acceptable) student scores, I wanted something better.

If you are in a similar situation, then flipping is absolutely for  you.

Here’s why.  With flipping, I wasn’t giving up so much control that my students had to discover the knowledge for themselves all the time because they were still getting the content from me in a much more effective and efficient way.  Pile on top of that the fact that the method then allowed us to dive deeper into the content in class as well, making it a double win for our students without a ton of extra work for you.

Content Knowledge or Skill Based

The third way to know if flipping is right for you is to consider the benefits of flipping in a content knowledge-based course or a skill-based course.  Now, I know what you are thinking, aren’t all courses a bit of both?  And you would be totally right.

But there are courses (or even subjects), especially with the older kiddos that lean one way  or another.

So do you teach a more content knowledge-based course like a social studies course of American or World History, or a social science like Human Geography or Sociology?  Or a science course like Biology or Life Sciences?

If you teach a course like this flipping is beneficial because  more of class time could be used for differentiation and enrichment instead of just the delivery of content.

Or do you teach a course or subject that leans more towards skill based learning, like an English Language Arts course, fine or performing arts, or a math course like algebra, statistics, or even calculus?

If you teach a more content knowledge based course then flipping is beneficial because  more of class time can be used for differentiation and enrichment instead of just the delivery of content.

Likewise if you teach a more skill-based course, flipping is beneficial because more class time can be used for practice and skill demonstration by the students instead of you just demonstrating the skill.

Notice that no matter if you are more content knowledge-based or skill-based, the harder parts of learning are now done inside the classroom in the presence of the educator and classmates so that you’re able to build a safe learning environment with an atmosphere that welcomes mistakes so that students can learn from them, rather than make them in isolation and get super frustrated with the learning process.

Flipping frees up your brain space and some time in the classroom to focus on the not so soft soft-skills of growth mindset and collaborative learning and metacognitive understanding rather than pushing all of those important skills aside in the name of mastering standards.

You get to do both now because of the structural shift you’ve made in flipping your classroom.

Alright let’s do a quick recap of three ways to know if flipping is right for you.

  1. Consider your students’ access to technology, and don’t immediately give up if access is limited. Also consider how important and necessary it is for your students to access your course outside your classroom’s four walls.
  2. Consider your time crunch.  If you’re strapped for time year after year, hardly ever to get through the standards by the end of the year, or only do so at the sacrifice of all things engaging, then flipping is absolutely a viable option for you.
  3. Consider the type of course you teach, and how flipping can serve your students more by putting the hard parts of learning into class time rather than as homework where they flounder on the tricky stuff, and their frustration stifles their growth.  How much could your students benefit from a safe learning environment where mistakes are welcomed as part of the messy process of learning?  If you’re ready for the culture-shift, then flipping is absolutely the right call.

Now those are just three things to consider when determining if you’ll flip your classroom, but there are many more aspects to think through.  I want to help you think through those without spending a ton of your precious time doing so, so be sure to grab the Flipped Classroom Starter Kit at the link in the show notes because in there is a Good Fit Quiz to help you get clarity around this topic of the flipped classroom and how it might work for you.

There you have it teacher, friend.  I hope now that you’ve listened to this episode that you have clarity around how flipping can benefit your unique classroom, and feel equipped with the foundational principles of flipped learning to be ready for the new normal in education.

I’ve got more episodes on flipping your classroom coming up so be sure to subscribe to the podcast so you’re sure not to miss one.  And while you’re at it, I would so love it if you could rate and review the podcast which will help me reach more teachers with our message of sustainability in the classroom.

Until next time, teacher friend - see you next week.

P.S. Before you go, I want you to know about an awesome opportunity we've got coming up for teachers.  

A big struggle for some teachers is making decisions or changes in their classrooms in isolation.  Whether you are actually on an island or feel like you’re on one because you’re wanting more collaboration with your colleagues but not getting it, I have just the opportunity for you inside of our brand new 30-Day Pop Up Facebook Community, The Flipped Teacher.

If you’re wanting to find your place amongst an incredibly supportive and collaborative teacher-tribe, then look no further than this group that will be available April 12 through May 11, 2021.  I will be leading the group in a weekly training and live Q&A all focused on your flipped classroom and how you can put your best, and more sustainable, foot forward in preparing for the new normal in education… one that allows you some rest from work on the evenings and weekends without feeling like you’re sacrificing your effectiveness in the classroom.

So click here to join our exclusive, private, 30-Day Facebook community that will be your jump start to flipping your classroom with the support of teachers working right alongside you.  See you there.


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