Note: I produced a radio show on this same topic. You can listen to that episode by by clicking below
In the past few years, many teachers from around the world have started to use a new method called the flipped classroom. Some parents are curious, others skeptical, and a few hostile. If you are a parent of a student in a flipped classroom, what is it you need to know about the model so that your son or daughter can have the best experience possible?
But first: What IS the Flipped Classroom? The idea of the Flipped Classroom is really quite simple. Direct instruction (lecturing) is done via videos which students can watch on their own before class. These videos then allow time for the teacher to work with students on things they struggle with. That’s it: The Flipped Class in a nutshell. You may also want to watch a short video clip where Aaron Sams explains the flipped classroom.
For too many years we have been “doing” school backwards. We send students home with the hard stuff. We expect them to solve problems and apply what they have learned in class without help. They had their notes (if they took them) and their textbook (if they bothered to read it), but little else. With the Flipped Classroom students do the hard stuff in class where the teacher is present to help students. They do the easy stuff outside of class.
Here are my top five reasons why you should be thrilled your child’s teacher is flipping his/her class.
1. It will increase Student-Teacher Interaction
There is something I fundamentally believe about good teaching – it is about developing good relationships between the teacher and the student. One of the beauties of the Flipped Classroom is that it gives the teacher more individual time with each student. That means your son or daughter will get more one-on-one time with his/her teacher. There is something powerful about moving the teacher away from the “front of the room.” Getting teachers in-and-amongst their students changes the dynamics of the class. When we flipped our classes in 2007, I knew my students better than I had in my previous 19 years as a teacher. Spending lots of quality time with each child helped me to know my students better both cognitively and relationally.
2. It will help you help your child
How many times has your child come home with homework they were unable to understand? You sat with them at the dinner table and tried as much as possible to help them, but you couldn’t. Or maybe you had learned something when you were in school, and your child has informed you that you “do it wrong.” One of the beauties of the flipped classroom is that you too can watch the videos with your kids. You can learn how the teacher teaches a topic and you will be better equipped to help your son or daughter.
3. It will decrease the anxiety of your child over homework
I have three children and we have had times where our kids came home with homework and they were stressed. They had too much to do and either not enough time or not enough understanding. That in some cases led to tears and much wringing of our hands. If the homework is for the students to watch and interact with a short video (We strongly emphasize that these videos need to be SHORT!), then this is much more doable. We want the kids to do the hard stuff when they come to class.
4. Your child will be able to pause and rewind their teacher
In one of the early years of the flipped classroom, my daughter Kaitie was watching a video of me in my living room
(which, by the way, is weird), and she jumped up and said: “I love the flipped classroom.” I asked her why and she said: “Because I get to pause you.” I was taken aback, but I realized what she was saying. She could pause her teacher. All kids learn at different speeds and frankly we teachers talk too fast. Wouldn’t it be great if your son or daughter could pause and rewind their teacher? Well guess what? They can if they are in a flipped classroom. (You can read Kaitie’s blog post about her experience in a flipped classroom here).
5. It will lead your child to deeper learning
There is one thing I have seen happen with almost every teacher who has flipped their classroom. They flip their classroom for about one to two years and then they go beyond the flipped classroom to deeper learning strategies. These include things like Project Based Learning, Challenge Based Learning, and Mastery Learning. Count yourself extremely fortunate if you have a teacher who has flipped their class for multiple years. These teachers have no doubt completely changed the dynamic of their classrooms. Instead of being focused on test preparation or busy work, their students are actively engaged in their own learning, taking responsibility for their learning, and enthusiastically embracing learning.
There are many other great benefits, which you can read about in the book I co-wrote with Aaron Sams, Flip Your Classroom: Reach Every Student in Every Class Every Day. Though this is written to teachers, I have heard from many parents who have read the book and enjoyed the read. It is a really short book (100 pages) and I guarantee that it is not written in Educator-Speak (is that a word?), but in plain language.
So if your child’s teachers are flipping their classes, rest assured that they are in good hands.
I want to hear from you
I would love to hear from parents who have already had their child in a flipped classroom. What are your thoughts? And for those parents just starting out, what are your concerns and questions?