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Isn't Flipping Just More Work?

Apr 13, 2021

Isn’t flipping your classroom just more work?  That’s the question, isn’t it?  And it should be the question for all teachers when deciding what changes to make to their classrooms, especially coming off of one of the hardest years in education ever.  And the question is really asking, is the work I put in going to be worth it?

Because here’s the truth, it’s not that flipping your classroom is more work… it’s that your classroom is work.  Your students are work.  So it’s a matter of knowing where you’re putting in time and effort and how it’s going to pay off, and this episode is all about helping your teacher work pay off for you and your students.

Let’s get to it.

Before we really dive into this episode I want you to remember episode 16, the Biggest Secret to Sustainability in Your Classroom, and if you haven’t yet, go back and listen to it because in that episode we talk about the number one secret to sustainability being to always be looking for the best return on your time investment.

Teachers’ main currency really is time, and whenever you are looking to improve or make a change to any aspect of your career, my biggest advice, at least when it comes to sustainability and making sure that you are able to stay in this career you’re made to be in for the long haul is to consider what type of time investment it will take and what kind of return you’ll get.  For that entire conversation, please go listen to episode 16 if you haven’t already.

Then come back here, episode 19, where I’ll be laying out for you exactly what the time investment will be when it’s time for you to flip your classroom.

So let’s get right to it.  What will your your time investment look like when you go to flip your classroom, let’s say this summer, so that you’re ready for the new normal of education and can have some sense of routine and greater impact with your  students.

Here are three areas where you’ll need to invest time to make it flip…

  1. Your Flipping Foundation,
  2. Your Flipped Videos, and
  3. Your Flipped Procedures.

Let’s dive into each one of these.

Flipped Classroom Foundation

The foundation of your flipped classroom is truly the bedrock in which you’lll build your entire classroom off of, and it consists really of two pieces.  Your course standards and your course calendar.  

This is not rocket science or some monumental new tip or trick I have for you here.  But it is getting back to the basics, and it’s something that is easily overlooked due to it’s simplicity.  Inside of my online course for teachers, Flipped Classroom Formula, teachers plan out their entire year.  Yea, that’s right, their entire year gets planned unit by unit, standard by standard so they have a roadmap that guides them in the creation of their flipped classroom.

Now, creating this roadmap, that is outlining their calendar from the end of the year, because we do it backwards, all the way back to the beginning of the year, and knowing when you are working in which standards, that takes time.

And I’m betting you’re thinking, “well that’s work I already do” or “yea, that’s work I should be doing anyway,” so this really is not adding much to what should be on your to-do list when you prepare and plan for a school year.

Likewise, spending the time building this foundation is going to pay off throughout the school year.  Think of it like the foundation of your home… if it’s shoddy, your house will be too and you’ll end up doing more work to maintain it in the long run.  Whereas if your house is on a solid, well structured foundation, your house will show it and require less work to maintain it.

Apply this analogy to your flipped classroom.  

It will take you a few hours, I would say about 5 hours depending on your standards and if you’ve taught the course before and therefore have an understanding of best practices in dividing up the standards, to sit down with your calendar and plug in your units and standards starting with the end of the year and working your way backward.

For more about this planning process, be sure to go back and listen to episode 5, Three Steps to Sustainable Planning where I dive into more of these kinds of planning practices.

Flipped Videos

Next up is how much time it will take to create your flipped videos.

Your instructional videos are the meat and potatoes of your course, or at least they will be.  They are what the core of your instruction and your students’ understanding is built on, so will they take time?  In order to be effective, of course they will. 

So let me be real clear on how much time it’s going to take you to create a video, and what kind of return you’ll get from that one video.

If you have all of your resources needed for any given lecture or lesson, like your slides, videos, props, tools or other items for demonstration, etc. all figured out and ready  to go, then any given video will take you approximately twice it’s length to create.

When you hit record, and have what will be a ten minute video, it’s going to take you at least 20 minutes to create that video.  Now, if you’re brand new to editing, it’s going to take you a bit longer in the beginning, but with the tool I recommend you’ll be editing videos like a champ after video three, so don’t worry about that.

Here’s why it will take a bit longer… you’ve got to record it, then edit it (which shouldn’t take too long or be too complicated), then you’ll need to upload it to your platform of choice, and if that platform is something like EdPuzzle, you’ll spend some time there adding your formative questions, then you’ll do the final steps to make it available and assigned to students.

And, yes, you’ll do that with every one of your videos.

Let’s compare that to what you’re currently doing with direct instruction and how long it’s taking you.  If you’re in a traditional classroom setting (let’s just try to remember those days for most of us, right?!?), let’s say you teach the same course over four periods, and the lecture is about 30 minutes long.  That’s two hours spent delivering that one lecture… and it’s not two hours that builds on itself and you come out of as more productive.  No, you’ve just done the same exact thing four times.

I don’t know about you, but that’s not exactly what I would call efficient.

Instead, you’ll be able to consolidate that 30  minute lecture into a 10-15 minute video (yes, you really can do that), which will take you about 20-30 minutes to create once you’re an editing champ, and bam… you’ve just saved yourself 90 minutes… EVERYDAY!

Think about that for a second.  If you lectured for 2 hours everyday, but instead made a video of that lecture that took you approximately 30 minutes to create, you just essentially created time out of thin air.  You just found time!  90 minutes to be exact.

And because you’ve spent the 30 minutes outside of class creating that video, you now have 2 hours inside your class to do things like… have meaningful conversations with your students, ask them how they are doing, get to the root of why their performance isn’t where you or they think it should be, talk about the cool parts of your course, dive deeper into the content, do a cool new lab or project, and otherwise just be available to your students for the daily ins-and-outs of being a student in need of a stable adult to assist them in certain aspects of life.

You really are able to still cover the content while not living and dying by the constraints and limitations of the standards and schedules in which you teach.

And that, my  friend, is what I call being prepared for the new normal in education.

Flipped Classroom Procedures

Last up, is to know how long it’s going to take you to create and implement the procedures of your flipped classroom that will really be setting up your flipped classroom for success.

Now, maybe don’t do this if you’re driving or if you’re jogging down the road because  people will see you and it’s just weird, but raise your hand if creating and implementing classroom procedures is something you work on before and even throughout each school year.

Yep, I see you raising your hand.  Of course you do.

That’s because we teach more than one human being at a time.  If we just had one student, one pupil, really, we wouldn’t need procedures and the entirety of classroom management.  But that’s not real life.

So, you’re already doing this right?  You’re already creating and implementing procedures that allow your classroom to run like a well oiled machine.

But if you’re not, or if you’re honest and know that you need to rehash or up your game in this department, then let me assure of how well-time spent this really will be.

Inside of Flipped Classroom Formula, we spend an entire module (and I guess if you get technical, we have three whole modules AFTER we cover creating flipped videos, so yes, I’m telling you… there really is more to flipping that just videos) on our classroom procedures and what we can be doing to set our classrooms (and our students) up for success.

We talk about things like building in one review day AND one remediation day for every single unit, and then we dive into what those days’ lesson plans could look like.  We talk about procedures for in class activities after students have watched their videos so that we don’t feel like we’re always reinventing the wheel day after day.  We talk about procedures for student reflection and metacognition, because YES, you’ll have time for that now.  We talk about procedures for differentiation and enrichment on a regular basis so that, again, you aren’t creating, creating, creating, and reinventing the wheel with every unit.

Now these are just some examples of procedures you could have in your flipped classroom, but what they are ultimately doing is preparing you for any given situation in your classroom so that you don’t have to always think on the fly in when students are in your room.  Will you still have to think on the fly… of course you will.  Autopilot isn’t full all day long, but at least for the big stuff, you’ll be ready when you spend some time up front preparing.

I would say that about five to ten hours should be spent before the beginning of the school year planning and preparing your procedures of your flipped classroom; time that will be paid back ten fold because these procedures are there to serve you and your students, and help you flipped classroom run like a well oiled machine.

Is flipping more work, Recap

Alright let’s recap real quick what kind of time investment we’re looking at here for flipping our classrooms.

To build the foundation of our classroom and get our whole year planned we’ll spend approximately five hours.

To create flipped videos that take twice the finished product to create, and let’s say you’re making one hour’s worth of videos each week, would equate to two hours per week of making videos (much of which you could have done over the summer, and in fact, most teachers who work with me over the summer have at least their first two units flipped before school starts).

Finally, to create the flipped classroom procedures to help it run like a well oiled machine, I estimate about ten hours needed there.

Again, these are all estimations and are based on my experience of working with teachers to flip their classrooms, so it could be a bit more or a bit less for you.

But remember the return.  And that’s where I would like to end this episode is asking you, what you want your return to be?  Do you want the return to be confusion and frustration from your students because they don’t know how or where to access videos or how to learn from them, or what to expect next?  Or do you want a classroom that serves you and your students? One that sustains you as the expert in the room and allows you to have continued impact on students this year and years in the future?

Is flipping your classroom a time investment?  Of course it is. Because your classroom is an investment.  Because your students are an investment.

The best thing you can ask yourself though is, what return am I going to get?  And, I’m telling you teacher friend, to be truly accessible and flexible in reaching our students of this day and age, flipping is what allows you to have impact without sacrificing your evenings and weekends to do so. It’s what allows you to be the educator in the room, not the martyr.

If this message is resonating with you about flipping your classroom and being prepared for the new normal of education, I want to invite you to grab my all new Flipped Classroom Starter Kit, a PDF guide I made based on my ten years of flipping classrooms so you don’t have to do all the research and guess-work.  It walks you through first finding out if flipping is really even a good fit for you, and then gets you taking steps in the right direction so that, well, so that your biggest support system isn’t Pinterest, but instead is a teacher who has been there and done that.  You can grab it at teachonamission.com/starterkit which is also linked in the show notes where you’re listening.

There you have it teacher friend.  My goal for this episode was to give you a clear understanding of the time investment necessary to reap the time rewards in successfully flipping your classroom so that you have no doubt that the rewards are worth the time investment.  If this episode has done that for you, I would love it if you would rate and review the podcast and join us in our private Facebook group for Sustainable Teachers, also linked in the show notes.

Have a great day and we’ll see you again soon.

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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