3 Secrets to Successfully Leading the Flipped Classroom

As integrators pitch schools on new technology, teachers too need to embrace their new role of teaching in a non-traditional learning environment.

The development of numerous online learning platforms and digital technology has restructured K-12 classrooms across the nation. As a result, blended learning models such as the flipped classroom have become a rising trend in many K-12 schools.

The flipped classroom allows students to receive instruction at home and experience more project-based, interactive and collaborative learning in the classroom.

By moving away from a “one-size-fits-all” form of instruction, the flipped classroom grants students the ability to learn at their own pace at home, and receive individualized help and support from teachers while in the classroom.

Transitioning to the flipped classroom takes a strong leader. Simply integrating tools and devices that allow students to view instructional videos at home will not successfully flip a classroom.  It is important teachers have a strong understanding of what is needed to flip a classroom—from implementing the right tools to understanding their new role as a teacher when they are no longer the leaders of instruction.

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“Instead of standing at the front of the classroom, teachers are more of a facilitator. Responsibility for learning can fall more heavily on the student, but it doesn’t take away from the ability of the teacher to enforce concepts and inspire learning,” said Tim Ridgway, vice president of marketing for Califone, in an email response.

A successfully flipped classroom needs a teacher who is willing to transition to a new teaching role that involves providing less instruction to students and more guidance throughout the learning process.

Furthermore, teachers leading the flipped classroom must feel comfortable using new tools and technology that will help develop and support the flipped classroom. For many teachers, this means learning about new technology and overcoming the fear of trying something new.

Conquer the Tech Fear

While technology is being used in one form or another in nearly every K-12 classroom, there are many teachers who still feel wary about implementing technology they have never used before, especially when this technology completely changes their teaching styles.

“It’s hard when you’ve done something for 20 years to then change because your curriculum and lessons are written a certain way and you now have to live in this new world,” says Warren Barkley, CTO of SMART Technologies Inc. “You have to conquer a little bit of the fear.”

A successfully flipped classroom needs a teacher who is willing to transition to a new teaching role that involves providing less instruction to students and more guidance throughout the learning process.

Barkley adds that many teachers feel their students are more skilled in using technology than they are, and therefore may find it hard to be leaders of a classroom model that relies heavily on technology.

“It’s really a question of getting over that fear of knowing that students will understand and know more about [technology]. Once teachers face that fear, they understand that technology is really a tool. They have to see it that way as opposed to some big thing they need to learn to make the transition happen,” says Barkley.

To help overcome any technology fears, teachers can look to other colleagues and educators who have personal experience flipping the classroom for help and advice.

“If teachers are uncomfortable [with the technology], find someone who is comfortable and spend an hour with them,” says Alison Murray, a science teacher at Central Falls High School in Central Falls, Rhode Island, who has flipped her classrooms. “That’s what I do here, I spend time with other teachers and get them used to it.”

Furthermore, teachers looking to transition to the flipped classroom can also sit in on other teachers’ flipped classrooms to experience firsthand what it is like to guide students through discussions and activities, rather than through direct instruction.

“Find a way to get yourself into someone’s flipped classroom. There are always great schools and great classrooms out there in everyone’s community. I think that’s super valuable,” says Barkley.

In addition to reaching out to teachers in the community for assistance, leaders of the flipped classroom should also involve other members of the community to find support for both themselves and their students.