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Rising above: Flipping for change

Posted on: April 11, 2015

Teachers contemplating the flip should first distinguish between the flipped classroom and flipped learning. This article makes a distinction.

I draw my own differences. The flipped classroom focuses on what a teacher can do. Flipped learning focuses on what learners can and should do.

Teachers do not have to change their behaviours very much when flipping a classroom: They still prepare content and dish out homework. They might have to reorient themselves to using class time for more coaching and differentiation, but good teachers should be able to do this.

To flip learning, teachers might have to reconsider what they hold sacred, e.g., their command and control, their content expertise, their curriculum. Teachers who flip learning realize the importance of getting learners to create content and to teach one another.

Teachers who flip their classrooms might know how to swing from being a sage-on-the-stage to the guide-on-the-side. If they use videos, their stage is the movie platform where they create and/or curate; if they use a webquest, their stage is filled with the resources they wish their students to consume online. If they are skillful back in class, these teachers learn how to guide students individually or in small groups towards self, peer, or teacher-oriented help.

Flippers do these but also learn how to be the meddler-in-the-middle. A meddler does not create a fire-and-forget video or tell students to “just Google it”.

Meddlers circulate and are the centre of circles. They move around the class or the online space to interact with learners in order to create dissonance or to restore balance. The demonstrate skills and they model thinking.

Meddlers realize that good questions drive learning, not answers. They direct and connect their learners to resources instead of just dishing out answers.

Meddlers are comfortable taking risks and are willing to fail forward. Meddlers are not interested in labels or rhetoric; meddlers take action. But meddlers also know what works (practice) and why (theory).

Meddlers do not walk past change and ignore it. They are the poster children of change.

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