The flipped classroom model has become a well known pedagogical strategy in education, and for good reason. By providing students with a short instructional video to be viewed at home greatly increases the available time in class to engage in projects, discussion, inquiry-based learning and overall student centered practices. Taking this exact concept and applying it to professional development (PD) could provide very similar results for teachers.
As teachers are more and more overworked, the last thing they want is to sit in a mediocre training to listen to an “expert” babble for an hour about a “more effective approach” to teaching their students. Listening to a one time lecture based PD is actually completely contrary to learning theory, and has shown not to affect teacher belief change and therefore does not encourage long lasting effects in the classroom. Instead, teachers need long lasting professional development situated in the real-life classroom scenarios of their classroom. They need modeling, peer and supervisor feedback, and opportunities to practice followed by deep reflection. They need the necessary resources, opportunities to collaborate with peers in a trusting environment, and access to information to build their pedagogical and content knowledge.
Let’s look at ways that flipped PD can provide many of these necessities:
Long Lasting PD
To hire an external trainer to be a consistent and ever present member of a campus team would cost extraordinary amounts of money and a commitment from the trainer that simply will not match the commitment of the instructional leaders already present on campus. Therefore long lasting PD will most feasibly come from campus administration. Flipping PD gives a campus instructional leader the platform and the time to offer long term PD. Creating videos multiplies the campus instructional leader and puts him/her on the screen of every teacher, not to mention a way for teachers to rewind and watch again when confused. Videos along with creating a simple FAQ about the training can nearly eliminate questions about PD topics. If questions arise, then time during face to face meetings previously used to share content related to the PD can now be used to elaborate on confusions.
Situated in real-life classroom scenarios:
Taking a quick video of students or a classroom lesson is child’s play in today’s technological age. Anyone can now record on their smart phone and quickly upload the video to Youtube (make it private if the video should not be shared with the public). For example, when I wanted teachers to see that students were not understanding the daily learning objectives, I simply plucked a few students from the class and asked them, “What are you learning today?” Once I shared these highly relevant videos the teachers immediately saw an issue that needed to be addressed.
Similar to the above description, model lessons can be easily recorded and shared online using tech tools like email, Flipgrid, Google Classroom, or Nearpod. Have teachers watch the model lesson and reflect. Go a step further and have the teachers record themselves teaching a similar lesson using the teaching method and compare.
Peer and Supervisor Feedback and Collaboration
Sharing content through video frees time during face to face meetings to dive deeper into feedback between peers and supervisors, to solve relevant problems, and to give teachers a voice during the learning process. If incorporating a Video Learning Team (VLTs) approach (which is explained in more detail HERE ) the face to face meetings could also be used for VLT members to share video feedback.
Building a Trusting Environment
Anytime more time is freed to collaborate and learn together, the opportunity exists for trust building. Just remember that with enhanced opportunities for growth through collaboration, trust building is a necessity.
Opportunities to Practice Followed by Deep Reflection.
Face to Face meetings could also be used for practicing new instructional methods. Teachers could form breakout groups, and practice mock lessons with fellow teachers as the students. Follow up feedback would then be immediate and highly relevant.
Access to Information to Build their Pedagogical and Content Knowledge
One of the most exciting aspects of Flipped PD is a multiplier effect . We can partner video and audio (two important aspects to retaining information) to disseminate information to mass groups of people who can then watch the video at their own pace at their own time and from the comfort of their own spaces. Not to mention that face to face meetings can then be used for the hands on experiences–the component of PD that will solidify and hone teaching methods as well as continue on a deeper level the teacher belief change process.
In summary, flipped PD has the potential to truly make an impact on teacher practice and therefore student achievement. Don’t underestimate yourself as an instructional leader. You have something offer. You can make the difference on your campus.