It’s 2011, and I’ve just finished my first year of teaching when over the summer I hop on the little portal that will show me how well I did. I taught an AP® course, among other courses, which for those of you who don’t know stands for Advanced Placement® and is a nation-wide curriculum and testing program run by CollegeBoard. At the end of every year, students take a test on the entire course’s material and can earn college credit - it’s a big deal for many students and certainly for the adults who teach them.
The test is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with all public universities accepting a 3 for the equivalent of one college course in the field they tested. Then at private universities students can earn even more credit with higher scores.
Welp, I hopped on that portal and saw that my average student score was a 3.1. Not bad for a 22 year old teaching AP® Psychology for the first time and only ever having taken a psych course twice in her life - the first of which was AP® Psych, the exact course I was teaching #notprepared!
The next year, although I kind of forget, I’m pretty sure I did slightly worse or maintained the same level, but had a passing rate of 72%. However, the following year, my average passing rate jumped 8% points. Then a few years later my scores jumped another 9% points. Want to know what I believe made that happen? Flipping my classroom.
Today I’m going to talk a little data, meaning numbers behind flipping my classroom, but more importantly I’m going to share the experiences, the qualitative data other teachers have shared with me about their flipped classrooms.
You will feel reinvigorated by the stories shared about the flipped classroom in a way that empowers you to focus on what you can control in your classroom and take back your evenings and weekends for yourself instead of work. Because flipping is NOT just about the data or being more effective with more students. No no no. It’s also about sustaining YOU so you can stay in the classroom, doing what you love about your job, impacting students over the long haul. Here we go...
On a Facebook live I was giving last spring, I remember a teacher reaching out and asking for the data behind flipping. She shared with me that although she understood the impact and effectiveness behind flipping, it would be helpful to have the numbers to back it up so that she could show her department chair and administrators.
First of all - this is fantastic thinking. You should always be asking questions like this. Ask for the data that shows best practices, and then use that data to show those who matter (cough, your evaluators) that you really do know what you’re talking about. That you are an expert practitioner who is perfecting and improving your craft. And never doubt, teacher friend that that is exactly what you are, even when our society makes us feel otherwise.
Although I won’t be boring you with a ton of data and numbers in the episode, I will share my own data - better yet, I already have - and then I’m going to back it up with stories from other teachers.
That’s the total increase that happened over a four year period in my students’ performance on the high-stakes end of the course AP® Exam. Seriously, 17% points isn’t just something you turn away from and say well most of it was probably because of xyz… you know, something else that the teacher had nothing to do with. I had better students each year, not as many students tested, the sky was blue that day, you wore your lucky shirt. That is what most people would like to do, isn’t it? When scores are bad, blame the teacher, but when they’re good find every other reason in the world why it’s NOT the number one influence on a child’s academic performance… the TEACHER!
INHALE… sorry, I get a little riled up on this topic. But I’m betting you’ve felt this passion as well. And if you have, it’s because you care so much about what you do as an educator. And for that you reason you are my person. Teachers are my people. We are cut from a certain cloth, and that’s why I’m excited to highlight other teachers in this blog.
But first, let me explain a bit more. So after my second year of teaching and having tested a few weeks of this whole flipped classroom idea, I went all in over the summer and essentially built what became my flipped classroom. I did TONS of research… well, I did as much as I could because there wasn’t a lot back then, but here’s what drew me to the idea.
I was giving the same song and dance four times per day (p.s. I had some colleagues who taught the same thing all day so they gave the same song and dance six times a day) and I was tired. Although I incorporated discussion and think-pair-share when delivering content, as I stood at the front of the room looking out onto those young faces of glazed over eyes and bobbing heads I realized how much harder I was working to deliver this content in engaging and interesting ways than my students were working to try and engage with and understand this information.
Another reason why was all the questions. Ugh - seriously they had to ask me about every single minute detail. And while, o man this makes me sound like a hyper bia, let me explain. I often would say to my students, “Look - I am not the beholder of all knowledge. Take life by the horns and figure it out. Yes, I know the answer. But if I’m providing you the answer every time instead of you figuring it out, how great of a teacher does that make me?”
I wanted to assume the role of guide-on-the-side instead of sage-on-the-stage. The one who could meet with my students one-on-one to have the sometimes tough but also sometimes incredibly meaningful conversations with my students. Ones that helped them see their full potential as capable learners rather than just a kid sitting in his high school classroom trying to absorb as much information via osmosis. Screw that.
So, I flipped my classroom. I put more of the onus of engaging with content on my students, and I then had the time to focus on equipping them with the tools to do so more effectively. Within no time, I had effectively become a teacher of learners rather than just a teacher of kids in my class. And I’m proud to say that the data is there to back me up.
But here’s the real kicker. Not only did my passing rate skyrocket to 91%, but more of my students received the highest scores (score of a 4 or 5) than all other scores combined.
What did this tell me (and my evaluators might I add)? That not only did flipping allow more of my students to pass the test, but it allowed students who, in a traditional classroom, would've gotten the three to push up and get the four or five - to get the higher score.
What did this tell me? That I was able to reach more of my students on an individual level where they stood in their understanding rather than with a one size fits all approach. And do you know what did that… me making one video at a time.
Alright, alright enough about me. I’m now going to share with you stories of other teachers who took last summer to build their own flipped classrooms, and are telling us how it’s impacted them and their students this school year. Outside of some grammar stuff, I didn’t edit these. So you are getting the real truth and nothing but the truth from these flipped teachers. Here we go.
The time and effort I put into flipping my classroom this summer has SAVED MY LIFE this school year! I would not want to share my scores or any other quantitative data because this year has been such a dumpster fire that everything looks terrible compared to previous years. BUT - I can see the effectiveness of the videos in the questions students ask in class as well as our ability to move on and spend the precious few minutes I have with them each week working with the material instead of just delivering content. My students have expressed so much appreciation for the way I am conducting my Hybrid model compared to other teachers who keep them online for the entirety of every class, and it is only possible because I took your class. The further I get into this year, the more I am looking forward to reaping the fruits of all this hard work next year when things hopefully get back to some new version of "normal".
Thank you so much for creating this course, I honestly do not know how I would have survived this school year without it!!
Flipping has been so effective that my students told me if we go back in person, to please continue it. These are my AP kids. They love that they can replay a lecture, and that we have more time for questions, deeper dives during class... their parents had even said how grateful they are at back to school night back in September!
It has taken time this year to make the videos, and I’m sure there are some I’ll go back and adjust... but for the most part I love that I can reuse them. In class flip days have worked well too! Kids like to get ahead on work and I can grade. They love setting their own pace, pausing and rewinding WHEN THEY NEED TO!!! I am so proud to do it. I can see on Edpuzzle if they didn’t get my check up questions and can reach out to those students and see if they need more support.
I had been teaching for 16 years. I hate COVID but it did push me to try something new and take a chance. I’m so excited to keep this new system.
Flipping my AP Psych class has made a huge difference for me personally. I teach primarily with a lecture and activities style and lots of short videos. With multiple sections of class I was EXHAUSTED from repeating that very hurried lecture every day. For my students, flipped has made a huge difference in the availability of the material. We have a hybrid system with about half the students asynchronous virtual and the other half in person. Having the flipped lessons recorded takes the pressure off having to make a perfect in class live recording. The ability for students to pause and repeat the videos as much as needed has been great as well.
I took the Flipped Classroom Formula in the second half of the summer and during our first few weeks of my return to the classroom (Fall 2020). I teach at the University of Central Arkansas in the Nutrition and Family Sciences Department. I have five courses all of which range from face to face, hybrid, and online with around 125 students a semester mostly upper-division courses. Flipping five courses, streamlining the content delivery, assessments, and meeting the needs of the students and my own sanity were only made possible with the implementation of your graceful "Flipped Classroom". I refer back to your lessons, handouts, Facebook group posts, and videos all of the time!
Here's a quote from course evaluations Fall 2020 during a pandemic using the flipped classroom formula:
"The flexibility of the professor and the ability for her to incorporate different methods of teaching."
Time. What teacher doesn't want more time to teach? Bell to bell, the clock seems to spin for us as we try to meet our students' needs. I teach AP Literature and Composition, among other ELA courses. Meaningful class discussions take time, analysis of texts take time, writing takes time, small groups, and one-on-one conferencing takes time. So does lecture, directions, and simply delivery of information. These last three can fit nicely into flipped lessons on video. Doing so frees up that time for all those other activities that lead to deeper learning and a more enjoyable community feel to class.
I teach 6th grade science and this year I did an in class flip, as I have in-person students and students online. Managing both has been tough, but the organization of the flipped classroom, the digital activities you taught me about, and the ability of my kids to go at their own pace through the videos has made it all so much better.
And there you have it, the numbers and qualitative data behind flipping a classroom. Now you have some data, and more importantly some experiences of other teachers to show you the effectiveness of flipped learning and how it can benefit your students and you. Please don’t forget that last part… you!
Wondering where to go next and how to even get started flipping your classroom? Go to teachonamission.com/starterkit to grab the free guide I made to do just that… get started. Who knows, maybe it will be your awesome results I’m sharing a year from now. Grab that guide at the link in the show notes, and I’ll see you right here next week, same time, same place.
See you soon.