Back in early July, I wrote two posts (see here and here) suggesting that if school principals REALLY wanted to see teachers flipping their classrooms, that they should consider flipping their faculty meetings.
My reasoning was simple: Teachers won’t be convinced that flipping the classroom carries benefits FOR learners until they experience those benefits first-hand AS learners.
Heck – who are we kidding: Teachers won’t be convinced that flipping the classroom is even DOABLE until they experience flipping first-hand — and what better way to expose teachers to a flipped learning environment than to model those environments in our regularly scheduled faculty meetings.
The posts really touched a chord, receiving just over 10,000 page views in a month and sparking a bunch of action on the part of school leaders around the country — including several first-attempts at flipping faculty meetings by folks like ME Steele-Pierce.
Not only was Damian surprised by how many school leaders turned up for the conversation, he was blown away by how willing they were to collectively think through the challenges of making flipped faculty meetings a reality.
One of the core questions the group wrestled with over and over again — which Damian attributes to Marc Seigel — was, “What is the most effective use of our time together?”
My answer to that question is a simple one: When teachers are together, they should be studying the characteristics of effective instruction — and sadly, that hardly EVER happens in traditional faculty meetings.
But it would be a BREEZE in a flipped faculty meeting!
So here’s another challenge to school leaders: Early next year, go to one of your best classroom teachers and record about 15 minutes of one of their lessons. Capture different moments — maybe the way that they open the lesson or the way that they use higher level questions to challenge their students.
Then, break your video into five-minute segments. Upload each segment to a different slide in a VoiceThread presentation and then share the final product with your staff at least a week before your next faculty meeting.
Ask your staff to watch the video in advance — either alone or with their learning teams — and to answer the questions in this practice centered observation protocal in comments around the actual VoiceThread slides or on a handout that they’ll be required to turn in.
When you actually gather as a faculty, have teachers work in table groups to reflect on the lesson that they observed.
Encourage them to use the commenting feature of VoiceThread to highlight strengths of the instructional practices that they observed in action. Just as importantly, encourage them to offer suggestions about how the practice can be polished and improved.
By doing so, you’d accomplish a thousand leadership goals, wouldn’t you?
First, you’d be modeling the power of a flipped classroom. By having teachers consume content and reflect in advance, you’d free time for more powerful conversations when you’re actually in the same room together — which is one of the main advantages of flipping anything.
You’d also be making the kinds of accomplished practices that are common in your building transparent to everyone — something that rarely happens in the sadly isolated reality of most traditional schools — and modeling the kinds of questions that are asked and answered by peers who study practice together.
But most importantly, you’d be reminding your faculty that the time that you spend together should be spent on studying teaching and learning — and THAT’s a message that we ALL need to hear over and over again.
Does any of this make sense?
More importantly, is it actually doable?