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*BONUS* The Number ONE Question I Get Asked About the Flipped Classroom

Apr 15, 2021

What happens when students don’t watch the video notes for homework?  That’s the number one question I get from teachers when they are considering flipping their classroom, and it’s a good one.

You should absolutely be asking this question because it means you are aware of an obstacle to your students learning, and now you can take steps to be sure you’re helping them overcome it.  We have an entire module dedicated to this inside of my online course for teachers, Flipped Classroom Formula, and we address multiple obstacles, not just this one big one.

In today’s episode we are going to answer this question so that after listening you will feel hopeful and empowered by the possibilities of flipped video knowing that you’re making learning NOT optional in your classroom and in fact setting up your students for success.

Let’s get to it.

Learning is Not Optional

Here’s the gist of this entire episode in one sentence.  You might want to write this down, are you ready?

When you flip your classroom you’re not just getting the benefits of putting your instruction into a video, you’re setting up your classroom in such a way that allows you to make sure that learning is not an optional or random occurrence in your classroom.

Bam that’s it.

So when a student comes to your class, and they don’t have their video notes completed, a) you should have a procedure that ensures that they then complete and not just give them a zero for it, and b) you now have time in your class to sit and chat with that student to see what the route issue or obstacles is and can help them work through that on a individual basis.  One size response does not fit all here when it comes to why our students are not able to or just aren’t doing the work for our class.  And flipping allows you to respond in-kind to each unique student appropriately.

Now I totally understand the old adage that you can bring a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink.  You’re totally right.  But if you got into this career thinking that you wouldn’t be inspiring kids to learn, even when it’s hard to do so, then you’ve chosen the wrong career path.

I believe that educators are not simply content experts.  In fact, I think the more effective educators are truly inspirational and ultra-caring human beings working behind their content to motivate students toward a better future.

But we are so bogged down by the daily grind of teaching that we can’t really be the inspirational educator that we know we can be.  Ain’t nobody got time for those kinds of conversations.  I need you to do the show up, do the work, and move on.

This just isn’t the case in the flipped classroom.

Instead, you’re able to ensure three very huge what I’ll call needle movers, in that they get the needle moving on student scores because they make learning not optional in the flipped classroom.

Here they are.

1. No rushing through notes

All teachers have at least one of each type of student I am about to describe.  Let me describe each of these students for you, while you visualize who they are, and then I'll explain how powerful flipped videos are in each of these children's education.

Student Type: The Sponge

This student is one who when they hear something once, it's encoded in their brain in such a way that it's easily accessible when they need the information, like on the test.  They generally don't need to work very hard, if at all, to ace the test.... that is, IF they listen in the first place.

It sounds kind of nice to be a "sponge" of information, doesn't it?  But, like most teachers, we know that this is a slippery slope for a young kid to be on when it's easy to fall into apathy and laziness due to his/her ability to just soak it up.  They get impatient with in-class notes when other students are asking for you to repeat something or asking what he/she believes to be less than intelligent questions.

Enter stage right flipped video notes.  If this student is able to, they can get through the video of lecture without pausing because they hear you and they register all that you're saying.  Plus, you're prepared with a formative assessment to give this student to make sure they actually received the important information so they then can move on to enriching and applying their knowledge.

Don't let the faster pace of this student working through the curriculum scare you.  There are plenty of strategies to implement when the responsibility of enrichment is placed on the student, but also remains scaffolded and guided by the teacher.  But, FINALLY, a class this student can move through at their desired pace, all thanks to flipped video notes.

Student Type: The Silent (Non)Objector

This student is one who takes a while to digest and register new information.  They might do relatively well in school, but their slower pace is less than ideal, and often times they get left behind.  Meaning, they would be performing MUCH better if class time provided the opportunity for this student to ask questions and work with information in a way that allowed them to truly understand, but because ain't nobody got time for that, a less than mediocre understanding is what they're forced to move on with.

I call this student the silent (non)objector because, for one reason or another (whether it's their introverted personality type or a long school career of learning to remain silent) this student will NOT raise their hand to ask you to repeat something during lecture, and probably won't ask for your help outside of lecturing when the opportunity is a bit more available (like during an activity where students are working independently or in groups).  No matter how much you tell this student to please interrupt you and to PLEASE, for the love of Pete, ask questions, they just won't do it.  And, yet again, they get left behind.  

This fact isn't necessarily the teacher's fault... it's the nature of the beast, so to speak.  The beast of the amount of standards we're forcing down kids' throats, as well as the beast that is the slower pace this student needs to move at in order to fully master the standards.  But that's not the student's fault either.

Enter stage left, flipped video notes.

This silent (non)objector student can now actually "object" (raise her hand to ask you to repeat something or slow down, so to speak) when he/she needs to, and, here's the most beautiful part about it, NO ONE EVER HAS TO KNOW!  Imagine the freedom this child will feel when they realize they get to take as long as they would like on one set of notes.  Granted, you'll want to encourage them to keep a certain pace so that they don't truly get behind, but them taking their time on these notes means they'll master even more content than if they were forced to move quickly through notes and activities in the past.  They'll reach more mastery with just the video notes alone.

No more humiliation at having to raise their hand, no more mediocre scores, no more being left behind because of the ridiculous fast pace.

Flipped video notes, simply by design, meet the needs of both of these students.  And, get this, you only made ONE video.  You didn't have to make different videos for different levels of understanding.  The video itself is natural differentiation.  That, my friends, is the power of flipped video.

2. The ability to rewatch notes

Often times, students take notes and then never look at those notes again.  There's some sort of disconnect between the notes and students seeing them as an aid when it's time to prepare for the test.

In the flipped classroom, although the technique is not the only one necessary to make this shift, there is a shift in students where their notes now serve as more than just a piece of paper they wrote on in the past.  

When preparing for tests, or when preparing for a semester exam or big end of the year assessment, if students see what holes exist in their learning (that's step one) they are then able to take step two, rewatching notes.  The power in this fact will bring up the scores of all of your students, but especially the top performing ones, the ones that will take action to fill those holes.  These are the same students that are often left to their own devices because teachers are so swamped by all the on-level and underperforming students, and they miss out on their potential of higher mastery and achievement.

Enter stage right, flipped video notes.  Students' notes become living, breathing documents that can be added to, mulled over, and tweaked to help students understand and master more of the content.

Absences are more manageable

I don't know about you and your classroom, but student absences seem like a never ending battle.  No matter the reason, when a student is not within the four walls of my classroom, there are ripple effects.  First, they miss the notes.  Then when they return to school all they do is copy the notes from another student, never truly getting the information into their brains, and then have to work on catching up on activities with less than stellar understanding in the first place... all of which takes some of my time to explain and remediate no matter how wonderful of a "When you are absent" procedure I have.

Enter flipped video notes.  In the flipped classroom, not that all students will do this, but all students have the ability (unless are truly very ill, of course) to come back from an absence completely caught up on content.  And, get this... they ALWAYS get the content from ME, their teacher.  It changes the dynamic of the classroom because most students take advantage of this opportunity and therefore seize their own learning as, well, their own.

The Big Question

That still leaves us with the original, most-asked question about flipping.

Well, I hope that by reading up to this point you see how the flipped classroom automatically makes it where more of your students will receive more of the content from you than in the traditional classroom.  They will also take more ownership of their learning.

But, there will always be that one student, or a small handful of students, who don't buy in to the whole flipped classroom idea.  In the ten years of flipping my classroom, I've only had a handful of these students total.

Part of my online professional development course for teachers, Flipped Classroom Formula, includes a deep dive into preparing students (and parents, for that matter) for the flipped classroom.  It's one of the many steps I help teachers take in setting up all their hard work, ultimately their flipped classrooms, for success.  One of the areas in this module of the course includes a focus on holding students accountable for their notes.

In the traditional classroom, notes are taken in class, and I would gather that in a majority of those classrooms, notes are not monitored outside of encouraging students during the lecture to pay attention.

One of the biggest lessons that I'll tell teachers about the flipped classroom is that flipping does not have an impact only because of it's basic strategies or any of the powerful facts I point out in this episode, it's because of many decisions teachers make within their flipped classrooms.  One of those being that notes are NOT optional.

In most traditional classrooms, notes are optional because they aren't monitored.  In the flipped classroom, obtaining the content, getting the notes is no longer optional.  That is, if the teacher decides to maintain this policy.  It would be easier to actually not check student notes.  But that would ensure your flipped classroom, all your hard work, to be ineffective; or, at least, less effective than it could be.

How you decide to "check" those notes is ultimately up to you.  But I will leave you with one last piece of advice... there are ways to monitor student note-taking without collecting them.  In fact, I beg you, please don't collect them.

If you do, you're just adding to the paradigm of hustle as a teacher.  And that is something I, at Teach On A Mission want to help you overcome and kick to the curb.  

Decisions about your flipped classroom will allow it to be sustainable and effective.  But, like many changes we make in our classrooms, it can also mean more work and more hustle if we aren't careful.  That is what I want to help you avoid.  And I will.  Just stay tuned to the Sustainable Teacher Podcast and go grab the Flipped Classroom Starter Kit by clicking in the show notes below.

I’ll see you next week, Teacher friend, bye for now.

Don't forget - Our 30-Day Flipped Teacher Facebook group is up and running right now.   Get in while you still can because it will be closing and training will be over on May 12.  Here's some more information:

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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