The Hidden Reason Why Teachers Don’t Flip Their Classroom

I have been helping teachers for over ten years implement Flipped Learning and recently I have been pondering why some teachers are reluctant flippers. A few years ago, I outlined the four biggest hurdles teachers need to overcome when implementing Flipped Learning. I have referred to these hurdles as the four T’s. But this morning, while I was out on a run, I realized that there is a fifth hurdle, a fifth T that may be the most important hurdle of all. First, let’s review the four T’s. In the past I wrote complete posts about each of them and you can delve into each by clicking on the links.

  • Thinking: It is imperative that teachers change their mindset about class time.
  • Training: Teachers must get the best training possible to effectively flip their classes.
  • Time: Teachers are busy and finding the time to flip is hard.
  • Technology: Though Flipped Learning is not a technological, but rather a pedagogical method, there is technology involved and educators usually need to learn some use some new tech tools.

I have been obsessed with two topics in the past year: Change theory and Relationships. I attended a session at the Association of Talent Development (ATD.org) conference this past January and heard
Britt Andreatta speak about how the brain is wired to resist change. It literally is the best conference session I have been to in the last three years. Her book, Wired to Resist, is a must read for any educator, especially those who are or who aspire to leadership positions. She makes the case that the human brain can only handle so much change at one time. Brains like things to be predictable. They don’t like lots of change.

Secondly, I have been obsessed with how flipped classrooms increase student-teacher interactions and provides  time and space for better student-teacher and student-student relationship. Good teaching has always been about building trusting relationships with students, believing in students, and connecting with them. Though we are all hired to teach some content, content taught without relationship is cold and is not well received by students.

What is the fifth T?


I could use the word fear, but it is too strong. We trepid (is that a word) two things change and relationships.

Dr. Andretta shares how our brain is afraid of change. It resists because change represents a threat. If we have always done something a certain way, we are not eager to introduce this. She further explains that the amygdala is the organelle which sends signals to the brain to not change.

Do teachers also “trepid” relationships? I believe so. Relationships are messy and getting to know our students can be fearful. I’m going to be honest with you. As I ponder my twenty-four years in the classroom I realize that I could have been better with relationship. I was OK, but not great. If I were to give myself a grade, I was a B. I remember looking at other teachers who had great relationships with students. They were asked by students to read their names at graduation or invited to speak at graduation. Students just connected with them. Frankly I was a bit jealous of them. It was easier for me to be a content expert and know my subject well. I could “hide” my inadequacies behind expert knowledge and delivery.

And when I flipped my class, something amazing happened. Since I wasn’t using class time for the information dump, I got to know my students better. It was freeing yet it was also a bit scary. I noticed how much more time I had to build into the lives of my students and they responded. Some shared more about their lives, their hopes, their dreams, and their heartaches. And as I listened I realized just how important this missing element was.

Perhaps you are one of those teachers who deeply connects with kids. If so, my hat is off to you. But if we are ever going to really change our educational system and bring about lasting scalable change, we need to conquer the fifth hurdle, the fifth T: Trepidation.

Can I ask you to be honest? To what degree are you “trepid” about change and/or relationships. Is the reason you have not embraced Flipped Learning trepidation?  Please share below.



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