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About 4 years ago, my district sent me to an all day teacher training workshop on the flipped classroom. To be honest, all I knew about the flipped classroom going into the conference was that flipped instruction was something I should know more about!

So, I sat through the training - picking up on some great resources and strategies, but one thing that kept popping up in the back of my head was “how will this work in my classroom and how could I possibly get started?”

I went home and began looking up YouTube videos on how to start flipping your classroom. I decided to go through with it after seeing these inspiring stories from teachers who flipped their classrooms and would never go back.

So my plan was to flip a lesson on the Trail of Tears that I was prepping for my next unit. I can’t really explain why I chose this lesson, just that it seemed “flippable!”

The big day comes, I tell my class that they will be participating in a flipped lesson and that class will look a little different when they come in on Wednesday.  I provided my students with the link to two videos on the Trail of Tears a week prior.  I instructed students to watch the videos and take notes, noting key vocabulary terms and questions they may have.  I’m thinking the process is pretty easy so far….

Wednesday comes. I am expecting my students to come in, all now experts on Worcester vs. Georgia and the Trail of Tears - I mean they watched the videos, right?  Not quite. A solid 25% didn’t watch the video.  Another sizable group said they watched it, but didn’t take notes or jot down questions. I was left with a group of about 8 students who completed what I asked and were prepared for my planned lesson. I felt just short of an epic fail.  I was already thinking my flipped teaching career would be one and done. I ended up burning class time, and had three groups of students all in different places. At this point, I felt as if I lost all control (no-no #1 for a self described control freak)!

It took a look at my weekly lessons by my department head and the resulting conversation on the flipped model to save my efforts.  She had never flipped a lesson before. She asked a lot of questions, I tried to answer them. At this point, she points me into the direction of another teacher in my building who was flipping his classroom. He saved me. I learned so much just from hearing him tell me about some of his mistakes and the learning process.  He showed me some resources like the Flipped Network, where I can read up on what is making the flipped model work in other teachers’ classrooms. He told me that my school media specialist had dedicated work spaces set up in the library for students watching flipped lessons that couldn’t access them at home.  He shared strategies for keeping students accountable for watching a video outside of the classroom. Just learning from his journey was enough to convince me to try it again!

I hope I haven’t scared you away at this point because I do want to challenge you to begin flipping your classroom. I see first hand what my students are accomplishing as a result of this model - and my students are showing increases in problem solving skills and critical thinking.  I don’t flip every lesson - maybe one or two a week, and that’s enough! After all, I still believe that not every lesson is flippable.