The most common question I get from teachers about making a more sustainable classroom or flipping their classroom is “Where do I start?”
You may be asking yourself this question before even considering if flipping your classroom is something you want to do, and I think you are absolutely justified in doing so because you want to know if it will be worth your time.
Well, when I answer this question, and what I’ll lay out for you in this episode is the fact that how you start your classroom is not just the answer to how you get started with step one, it’s also the exact thing you should be focusing on for each and every step you take and decision you make in your flipped classroom.
What that means is that when you take this first step toward flipping your classroom, you’re also helping your future self by making each and every other step in the flipping process that much easier to take - saving you time and headache in the process.
After listening to this episode you’ll have taken the first and, what I would argue, most important step in flipping your classroom, putting you one huge step closer to the classroom of your teacher-dreams with engaged and accountable students, a classroom that lights you up and runs so well that you don’t need to work on evenings and weekends.
Because you know better than anyone that teaching right now is hard. And we’re being told the solution is to hustle harder, work more, care more, and engage them more. Evidence of the “great resignation” is showing us that teachers have had enough of the narrative that in order to be effective in the classroom that they need to be the ones doing more. Together, we can challenge this narrative and show our colleagues, new teachers coming into the field, and even administrators that we can have more by doing less - we can do more by streamlining. And this episode will explore how.
Let’s get to it.
Last summer I was on one of our Live Q&A Sessions for the teachers in our 2021 Flipped Classroom Formula™ cohort. And I was answering many questions that began with “Should I…” Some of those questions included things like, “should I create guided notes or keep the Cornell Style I normally use,” “with my particular class and unique students, should I do the in-class flip or a traditional flip, or “should I quiz after each one of my topics with shorter formatives or go for a weekly or bi-weekly formative that’s a bit longer?” All of these are questions that many teachers have asked and have led to great conversations in our Live chats, and they aren’t just answered by me. I certainly give my input, but it’s so awesome to be in a virtual room with like-minded teachers who are on a similar path as yours and the speak into your situation, offering expertise and advice that lead you to where you’re ultimately wanting to be in your classroom and career. It really is great.
Would you believe me, though, if I told you that oftentimes, with answers to each of these questions, although I certainly give targeted and individualized advice and guidance, that each and every time I circle back to one specific strategy?
Well, I do.
Now, like I said, I still provide the coaching and guidance based on best practices and the teachers’ individual circumstances, but then I also bring in this strategy which is this…
Whenever you’re making decisions about your flipped classroom and how to proceed, you have to get back to why in the world you’re doing it in the first place.
And this, my friend, is the first step you need to take to get started on your flipping journey, and it will be the most important step you take.
To determine why in the world you even want to do this.
I have worked with thousands of teachers on the journey of flipping their classrooms, and this is always the first step, and it’s one of my favorite steps to take as a group because, selfishly, I get to get a glimpse into each of your classrooms and it's just so cool.
When we dive deep into answering this question teachers answer with things like…
“I want to focus on more 1-on-1 conferencing with my students during class.”
“I want to do more writer’s workshops.”
“I want my kids to like math again, or for the first time, because we’re applying what we’re learning to real life scenarios that matter to them.”
“I want to lecture less, not be the center of the classroom as often, so that my students are taking ownership and accountability for their part in the learning process.”
“I want to do more labs and hands-on activities.”
“I want to implement project-based learning in a way that still supports my students with a foundation in the content, but gives them enough freedom to discover and explore as well.”
“I just need more time to get through my content-heavy course.”
“I want my parents to be able to participate more in the education of their children, and putting myself in video format will do that, I just need help knowing how to best do it.”
“I want to shift the culture of my classroom away from the game of grades to a safe atmosphere of making mistakes and truly engaging with the content in ways that shows them what it is to learn.”
And even reasons like,
“I want to get back to loving my job that’s focused on the students’ learning and not my spoon-feeding them.”
“I want to be effective in my classroom without having to sacrifice my evenings and weekends to do so.”
“I want to know that I’m giving my best for my students, but can also have enough emotional and physical energy for my family when I go home.”
And, how about this one…
“If I’m going to have to teach this crazy high number of students, I can’t teach the same way I did when I had a much lower and more manageable number of students, and so this is the best way I can think to do it effectively for my students AND sustainably for me.”
“If I’m going to have to teach the same content and course to students who report to me in-person, remotely, and asynchronously, all while absenteeism is on the rise, then I’ve got to streamline how I reach all of my students so that it’s effective for them and sustainable for me.”
Now you may be wondering, “ok, I get it, Mandy, but how is this going to help me take first steps in flipping and then help me down the line in the process as well?”
Great question, and here’s my answer.
You need to know the possibilities of the flipped classroom, because there are so many and your reasons will be unique to you. And you need to know which ones you're wanting to accomplish in your own flipped classroom so that when you go to make decisions on how you flip or how your flipped classroom runs on a daily basis, you can come back to why you’re doing it, making sure that how you started this process is how you’ll finish.
The other truth is this… and you may just have to trust me on this one based on my own experience and the experience I have in coaching hundreds of teachers in the flipping journey - there are plenty of decisions to make and plans to create to make sure your flipped classroom is not a complete flop.
Yes, it’s possible. I’ve seen it happen with my own eyes, and I’ve more recently had some of my university students share of flipped-classrooms-gone-bad that they’ve experienced as high school students.
I’m not saying that to scare you, I’m saying it to caution you to be sure that you’re taking the right steps towards the classroom you envision and want to come to fruition. Otherwise, what’s the point?!?
Another point I’ll make here is that if you not setting goals or have a clear vision of what you’re wanting to accomplish with your flipped classroom, then you're just implementing a specific technique for the sake of that technique and that's not going to allow you to work through the hard patches that you will absolutely face when flipping your classroom. Then, it might as well just be another professional development session mandated by the state or put on by your district that tells you how to do something in your classroom rather than an experience that puts your expertise and desires for your classroom at the forefront.
So let me ask you, teacher-friend. Why do you want to flip your classroom? What has you intrigued about the technique? Why did you click play on this episode?
Now, obviously, I can’t hear your answer right now, but I would can hear it, or rather read it, in our private Sustainable Teacher Podcast group on Facebook, and I would love for you to go there (the link is listed below where you’re listening) and tell me why you want to flip. It will also be a fantastic opportunity to hear from other teachers on why they want to flip as well.
However, an even better opportunity I have for you to tell me why you want to flip and to hear from other like-minded teachers their reasons for starting this journey is to join me LIVE in my upcoming teacher-masterclass, How to Flip Your Classroom & Earn Graduate Credit in Less Than 90 Days: How to Plan, Build, and Implement a Thriving Flipped Classroom with the guidance of someone who’s done it before so that you hit the ground running and don’t have to sacrifice your evenings and weekends in the process!
Sounds like a B-A training for teachers who want to get back to the classroom and career they love, am I right?!? We’ll start off with finding your reason why you want to flip your classroom and we’ll even dive deeper into those reasons, because you’ll absolutely have more than one, and we’ll even create a vision board so you know exactly where you’re going and will know when you get there.
It’s totally free and I’ll provide a certificate of completion at the end that you can turn in for your continuing education credits.
Here’s the thing… It’s not available to register for yet, because it’s not until May, but what you CAN do to be sure you do NOT miss that opportunity is to grab my Flipped Classroom Starter Kit: How to Flip to Not Flop in Your Post-Pandemic Classroom. You can grab it at the link below where you’re listening to get you started in seeing how this flipping journey will play out, then I’ll email you in June when registration is open for my masterclass.
Alright, before we go, I have one more thing to leave you with and that is this. If your reason for pursuing the flipped classroom (or maybe just one of your reasons) is focused on your gain or benefit, like preserving your evenings and weekends for yourself and your loved ones, I do not - I’ll repeat, I do not want you to spend an ounce of your energy feeling guilty about that.
And if you’re like, “NOPE - no worries there, Mandy. It’s all about me and making sure I stay in this career field,” then more power to you.
But I’m betting that many of you listening may have cringed a little when I gave teacher-reasons for flipping early that centered on their benefit. I get it. We are so very others-focused in this career, as we should be. But here’s the thing… research shows time and time again that YOU, the educator in the room, are the single most influential factor on a child’s education inside the walls of your classroom. And if you can’t show up as the best you, then your students are getting a lesser education than they could if you have the energy to remain as effective in the classroom.
That’s what I’m here for. I am here to help you create the classroom that allows you to show up as the best version of you for your students which gives them the best version of an education they deserve.
If you’re here for it too, grab that starter kit now and join us for the webinar in June. The link is just a scroll away - check it out below and I’ll see you there.
There you have it teacher-friend, the number one thing you need to flip your classroom, which is the first and most important step in starting, one that once fully fleshed out you’ll return to time and time again thanking your past self for the thought and intention you put into this one step toward flipping.
If this episode resonated with you I would so appreciate you sharing it with any of your colleagues and teacher-friends which will help us getting our message in the ears of more teachers that is that their sustainability is important too.
Alright, we’ll see you right here, same time next week.
Bye for now.