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The "99% Advantage" of the Flipped Classroom

Apr 28, 2020

In a time of distance learning where teachers are flying by the seat of their pants, and essentially building the plane while in the air when it comes to teaching online, we all are feeling the effects of working our butts off and yet not having the same impact we did when in the classroom.

Except for flipped classroom teachers.

Teachers who had previously flipped their classrooms, in many ways were prepared for a unpredictable setting like this one, as well as their students, because of how the flipped classroom functions.

Please hear me when I say that I am not trying to throw flipped teachers' success during distance learning in the face of teachers who had not previously flipped.  NOT AT ALL.  I'm not here to shame or guilt anyone (see my posts on these topics here and here).

But I do want to use those teachers who had flipped before the pandemic-induced school closures as a story of success when it comes to building accessible and sustainable classrooms.  And there's a HUGE reason why I want to do that.

By shining a light on the success of previously flipped classrooms I am NOT saying they have it ALL figured out or that 100% of their students are showing up for them, completing assignments and rocking it in general.  Nope, that's not the case for anyone.  But in my personal experience, and the experience of flipped teachers I know personally, their attendance rates for synchronous teaching and completion rates for asynchronous teaching are above average.

And here's the main takeaway for today's post...

Just as the flipped classroom gave teachers an advantage in this pandemic, so too will it give them an advantage for more normal circumstances impacting all classrooms, as well as the potential alternative atmosphere we could find ourselves in at the start of 2020-2021.

I call it the 99% Advantage of the Flipped Classroom.

The goal, then, of this post is to show exactly what the 99% Advantage is through the lens of not just distance learning, but more so the traditional, non-online classroom and whatever that may look like when we go back to school next year.

States are announcing the closing of their school-doors for the 2019-2020 school year with a footnote to be ready for some kind of alternative setting and requirements come August and September.  What the start of the 2020-2021 school year will look like is unknown right now, but if it's somewhere in the middle of totally normal and completely online, you can bet that the flipped classroom will be even more imperative.

I want to support you in preparing your classroom for the 2020-2021 school year so that blended learning is not a foreign concept, but one that you and your students can thrive in.  I hope that posts like this one  (and many others) will offer that support as well as various Facebook Live sessions I've offered, my Youtube videos on flipping, and even my Flipped Classroom webinar that I'll be offering again in mid May (stay tuned for details on how to sign up).

You might be asking, "But, Mandy, I need to make my classroom online, not just flipped, so what are you getting at here with the flipped classroom?"

Research shows, and you may have recent experience that supports this as well, that exclusively online teaching is not as effective as a blended or flipped model like you and I know so well.  In a recent NPR article, Justin Reich, an online learning researcher from MIT, explains how the flipped classroom model is much more ideal, and much more effective than the completely online model.

I would stretch his statement to say that the work you do to develop a flipped (and online) classroom now will follow you, along with its effectiveness, right back into the classroom in August no matter what that classroom might look like.

It's imperative to know the advantage that flipping gives you and your students so that you are fully aware of how worth-it all this work will be.  You don't really have a choice right now in doing the work to make your classroom online, but you do have the choice to make this work applicable to your classroom when we go back to school.  And, if you do that, you'll be doing your future self a GIGANTIC favor.

So let's focus on that advantage.

The 99% Advantage of Flipping

In the traditional classroom where the teacher spends most of class time delivering content, and the homework is the practice problems (working up Bloom's taxonomy), if a student is absent they will miss the notes.  Duh, they aren't there.

When they return to school, they'll ask you what you did in class while they were gone, and you'll want to give a smug response like "Nothing.  When you aren't here we cancel class."  But you don't do that; instead you tell them students took notes and they'll need to get notes from a classmate.  At which point, the absent student asks the best note-taker at their table to borrow their notes, and they simply practice their ABCs by copying down every word onto their own paper.

There is next to ZERO actual encoding or rehearsal of information going on when the student simply copies notes, but it's the best we can do because they missed the notes, and they'll need to just really practice, and ain't nobody got time to redo everything when one or two students are absent every single bless-ed day of the week, am I right???

In the flipped classroom, however, instead of you having to send that student to the best note-taker to practice their copy and pasting skills, that student not only can now watch YOUR video of YOU delivering the content, they could even already have watched the video while they were out so that it's almost as if they were never absent in the first place.

That's next level extra, right?!?

Let's be serious though, a handful of students will do that, but I'm betting most won't, and that's still ok, because I know as a Flipped Teacher that every single one of my students, even when they are absent, sick, pulled for testing, counseling or need to go potty during class, that they will each (or about 99% of them) will receive 99% of the content from me.

My flipping the classroom allows my students to rise above all (or at least most of the more immediately disrupting ones) the obstacles they may face in their education, and still receive the important information of our course that is necessary for them to prove mastery, and, in many cases, prove they are able to move on, graduate or earn college credit, depending on the stakes of your end of year test, of course.

Is flipping the silver bullet of education?

Absolute NOT!

Nothing is or ever will be because of the human element of what we do.  

But we can provide them with accessible classrooms that, if they so choose, will allow them to rise above their circumstances.

So why is it the "99%" Advantage?

Here's the thing, I can only compare flipping to the traditional classroom, and in doing so, I know that flipping allows 99% of my students to receive 99% of the content from my instruction or direction.  I don't believe that is possible in a less-accessible, traditional classroom.

I say 99% because there's never a silver bullet that will guarantee effectiveness for 100% of our students.  We should always strive for that, but also keep our expectations rooted in reality so we aren't burning out our passion for teaching.

So, then, how does one go about ensuring this 99% advantage, or at least the accessibility that comes with flipping?

I have just the thing you need to take steps in the right direction, making sure your time and hard work right now can be effective for the unknown structure of your classroom next school year.

It's the Ultimate Flipped Classroom Starter Kit.

Click the image above and I'll email you the starter kit straight away, and then I would love to chat with you, give you some more insights on flipping, and answer any questions you have in my weekly Facebook LIVE this Thursday at 4:30pm EST.

I'm so glad you joined me today for this week's blog post, and I truly hope that in all the craziness and uncertainty that is distance learning, that this little spot in the massive internet world can serve as one of encouragement and reassurance for you that you are the number one influence on student learning, and that there truly are ways to fulfill that role that are both accessible for your students and sustainable for you.

Until next time,

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