Friday afternoon, my brain slowly burning out from another week of information overload and a new tweet grabs my attention. I find myself mustering up enough energy to quickly respond to the question posed by my colleague. Is the flipped class model here to stay?
I thought I could answer the question in a succinct 140 characters on Twitter and then be on my way to enjoy my weekend with my two little ones, but instead I find myself writing a more long winded response on my Cohort21 blog.
Upper Canada College’s strategic plan outlines many goals for the school over the next 5 years and one of them specifically addresses the flipped classroom model. To paraphrase, UCC is looking to promote diversified models of instruction, these methods include but are not limited to harkness, socrative, lecture, blended and flipped Classroom instruction. The goal is to promote the use of many different models of instruction in order to expose the students to as many different teaching styles, giving them the opportunity to find one that works well for them. In short UCC promotes an individualized approach to teaching and learning.
The flipped classroom certainly has its benefits and I’ve spoken with students that have found the method extremely helpful, but I have also spoken to students that have found it very difficult. There is a level of self control that is needed to be successful in this model. I believe if this method is used exclusively in the classroom more time needs to be set aside for developing the skills needed to be successful for all students. For instance: as previously mentioned self control, can the student not be distracted by other activities on the computer while they watch the lesson? Organization, can the student take good notes and synthesis the information they are learning in order to draw on it in the next class? Asking questions, can the student formulate good questions in order to complete their understanding of the concepts?
My feeling is the flipped classroom is an efficient and effective teaching method that will always have a place in the teachers instructional toolkit. However, I would caution against it being viewed as a revolutionary new way of teaching. The teacher needs to identify when this method would be most effective and use it. Additionally, the teacher needs to recognize that many students might thrive in this type of environment and would benefit from it. Teaching using one instructional style could alienate these students, who may have been exposed to the method and experienced success in another class.
The tricky part of teaching is figuring out the dynamic of the classroom and what instructional models best suit the students in each class. Teachers need to use all of the tools at their disposal in order to provide rich learning opportunities to all of their students.