The First Two Weeks in the Flipped Classroom

Aug 19, 2019

Here at Teach On A Mission, like every other teacher, everywhere, we are in total back to school mode.  And you can't be prepared to start a school year without talking about, preparing for, and understanding the significance of the first two weeks in the classroom.

The flipped classroom is no different.

Or is it?

Well, it kind of is.

The first two weeks in the flipped classroom are important not only so you can establish rapport and boundaries that benefit your classroom management abilities just like in the traditional classroom.

Yes, that's important, but in the flipped classroom, the first two weeks is MORE about empowering kids.

(photo by Nicole Honeywill, https://unsplash.com/photos/E3I2zjwGudM)

It's about empowering your students to own their learning, and know how to learn well.

So, in this post, I want to give you a picture of that classroom atmosphere, as well as some techniques to use to build that atmosphere and empower your students.

Be obnoxiously positive about the flipped classroom

This may seem a little silly, but I don't want to downplay it as simply a lighthearted suggestion.  It's amazing what can happen when a person truly believes in their abilities and the possibilities of the systems they've put in place.  You should TOTALLY own that power of positivity about the flipped classroom.

What does this mean for you though??

It means that WHENEVER and wherever you talk about your flipped classroom, you are pushing the amazing outcomes you know you'll see, especially the ones that are the reasons why you wanted to flip in the first place. 

P.s. You need to become real clear on your individual and specific why for flipping.  This is a major component at the start of my Flipped Classroom Formula course that my students (teachers who take my course) definitely loved working through to get things started in flipping their classrooms.

So where will you talk about the flipped classroom??  I'm so glad you asked.

On Your Syllabus

Yep!  I want you to dedicate a section of your syllabus to introducing whoever reads it (hopefully students and parents) to the flipped classroom, particularly the benefits you know your students and your classroom as a whole will see.

Parent Communication

Whether that be in your course contract, parent letter sent home, newsletter or group email, or even a parent intro video that I teach my Flipped Classroom Formula teachers to implement in their flipped classrooms.  Whatever your technique for parent communication at the beginning of the year, talk about the flipped classroom, and push the positive.  

If you don't want to make your own video for parents to watch, you could send home the link to one that quickly introduces the flipped classroom (easily found on YouTube).  Then, in a letter, give parents your clear expectations for your flipped classroom this school year.

In the classroom

Well of course.  But how?  I recommend getting my Flipped Notes bulletin board here totally free, just for you :).  It's a great, simple visual to help students see the purpose in taking flipped notes.

I also recommend dedicating some time when you either talk about your syllabus, or what I teach my students of FCF (Flipped Classroom Formula) is to have a station in your first days of school stations where students explore what the flipped classroom is.  I show them some videos of student accounts of the flipped classroom, as well as some tutorials from students on how they take notes in the flipped classroom.

If you are talking about the flipped classroom in all of these ways at the beginning of the year, your students will be very clear on both what the flipped classroom is, as well as what you are expecting of them - that, my friend, is empowering.

Teach Your Students How to Learn

The next, probably more significant or impactful way to empower your students in the flipped classroom is to teach them, very explicitly how to learn, particularly how to learn in the flipped classroom

Now, I'll be real honest... learning in the flipped is really NO different than learning in the traditional classroom.  It's just more accessible and more at the individual students' pace (at least in how long it takes them to take thorough notes).

But, from the student's perspective, learning in the flipped classroom will look really different.  So here's what I recommend.

Take a day to teach them how to take flipped notes

Ok, maybe just half of a class period will do, but usually I take a full class period.  And here's what I do.  This is a lesson I teach in FCF, so I'm totally giving you a sneak peek of the course here :)

I give all students their first set of guided notes (p.s. guided notes really is a huge player in the game of teaching your students how to take quality flipped notes) that is due the next day at the beginning of class (so, technically their first homework assignment).

I ask for a student volunteer who sits at my computer that is being projected on the board.  They are in control of the video and are to take notes from it just as they would at home.  The rest of the students are at their desks, taking notes from the same video being projected on the board (so the student volunteer is really in control of their video... that's what you want).  

Then I go about "doing things" around the room.  You know, what appears to be basic teachery things while all students are taking notes.  You'll notice students in the room getting a bit frustrated and impatient as the student volunteer just lets the video play while everyone else gets totally behind on their notes, missing all kinds of things.

Once about 5-10 minutes has passed, go ahead and stop the student volunteer and ask the room, "So how are your first few minutes going in taking your first set of notes?"

Hopefully students share that they missed a ton, and are even a little butthurt about it.  Sorry if you don't like that word, but it happens to be a personal favorite of mine :) . #sorrynotsorry

And that's when you give the dramatic teacher pause and say "GOOD!  Because guess what!  From now on, in this class, you have complete and total control over what you get from notes and what you don't get from notes.  You know how????? The PAUSE button."

I ask them "Have you ever had a teacher who goes faster than you might like when lecturing, and wish you could tell them to just shhhhsh for a second?"  This is when I bring up a particularly gung-ho lecturer in the building that would be totally taboo to interrupt and ask them to slow down.  You know you have one in your building (or maybe you've been one) and, yes, you can respectfully and lightheartedly bring them into the conversation without showing any disrespect or insult towards them.

Kids get a laugh, and then I tell them, "Seriously, you have the power to now pause me.  You could even say 'Shhsh, Mrs. Rice' when you pause the video."

My rule of thumb is always that if the student is writing on their paper, the video is paused.  I'm a huge stickler on this one.

So, for the rest of the bell, students are to continue taking notes, but their time from their own devices with their very own pause button.  I walk and monitor the room, making sure students are not just taking thorough notes, but that they are paused when writing.

Bam.  That's it.

Make Metacognition an Integral Part of Your Classroom Culture

From go, metacognition should be a word your students understand completely.  It's not a hard one, but as you give them strategies and systems to build their metacognition, and as you talk about it more and more, they will get the picture.

Those, really, are my two tips for this one.  Throughout a lesson, topic, and/or unit, you should be talking about "knowing what you know," and "knowing what you don't know."  Make understanding how you think and learn a part of your everyday language in the classroom.

Secondly, create systems that get students reflecting on their learning and performance often - meaning at multiple points within a learning unit.

For my classroom, that meant asking my students to reflect on their strengths in the content, but more importantly, where they were struggling in the content BEFORE taking our big test.  They did this after every quiz, and before every unit test.

Then they reflected after every unit test (or quarter/semester exam) on how they did, what they did to prepare, and where a gap might be.

This could be as simple as asking them, "What do you think you got on the quiz/test?" before they get their score.  Then giving them their score and asking them to compare their expectation with reality.  Is there a gap?  Why might that gap be there?  Where is your preparation missing the mark?  

These are often time difficult and confrontational conversations to have (not with all students, but some) because you're telling them, in many cases, that they aren't being honest with themselves or you about their learning habits if they say "I swear I studied harder than ever, and thought I did so great, but I still failed."


And here's a little bonus for you in this section that's super duper simple.  Don't ever again talk about studying.  EVER!

I know, crazy right?!?

Kids just straight up don't know how to study because THEY DON'T KNOW HOW TO LEARN IN THE FIRST PLACE.

So, instead of talking about "did you study?" or "How did you study?" or "Well it looks like you didn't study enough," say "what are you doing to learn this well?" or "what does your environment look like when you're learning?  Is it distracting or loud?" or "Focus on learning it well in the first place, then studying is just your wing-man."

Alright folks, that's what I've got for you this week.

Bam - the first two weeks in the flipped classroom... all about empowering your students.  That really changes your role doesn't it?  And I hope you're liking the idea of this new role you'll be assuming, at least as you're learning more about the possibilities of it.

If you're wanting some more guidance on how to get started in your very own flipped classroom, be sure to grab the Ultimate Flipped Classroom Starter Kit I've made for you if you haven't grabbed it yet.

I hope that this post has been informative, but in realistic, implementable ways.  I try to avoid the overly philosophical and grandiose because "ain't nobody got time for that" right?!?

 And that really is my utmost goal, supporting you in fulfilling the role as the number one influence on student learning with systems and techniques that allow you to stay in this game for the long haul - not working 60+ hours a week, just to be overly exhausted at the end of every day from working harder than your students.

Until next time my friend,


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