4 Steep Pitfalls You Must Avoid When Flipping A Classroom

4 Steep Pitfalls You Must Avoid When Flipping A Classroom
Summary: If you believe that flipping a classroom could only mean more interactive learning and students’ engagement, then you couldn’t be more wrong. Flipped learning isn’t an automated tool that you could turn on at your will and get the results you so desire. On the contrary, it’s a sophisticated learning design that needs a more informed approach to delivering the right learning experience.

Pitfalls To Avoid When Flipping A Classroom

Having an informed approach right off the bat (i.e., when you are implementing this new concept in the classroom for the first time) isn’t possible, not at least without the initial trials and errors. If you don’t want to waste your time tackling the initial blunders – that often plague the classroom of some educators new to this concept, then you need to read on and avoid the most common mistakes of flipping a classroom for the first time.

Here, I present you some of the powerful and experience-packed tips from teachers who’ve already “been there and done that”, when they first flipped their classroom. So, try to avoid the following pitfalls when flipping a classroom:

  1. Making the Classroom a Production House.
    Although this new concept mainly involves studying through video presentations or lectures, it doesn’t mean you can turn your classroom into a production house. Kevin Revell, an Assistant Dean and Associate Professor of Chemistry at Murray State University, learned that the hard way when he brought an entire camera crew in the class. Kevin says, “I wanted to try filming my class, and then compare the live versus tablet-only presentation style.” But much to his surprise, his not-so-well-thought-out plan failed to work out the way he desired. Consequently, “I struggled the rest of the semester to get my class to engage”, says Kevin. So, what made the plan fail so miserably? Kevin says that one of the main reasons why his plan failed to meet his expectations was that the presence of a camera and the whole crew in the class made students somewhat uncomfortable and intimated. After all, who doesn’t feel a bit uneasy in front of the camera? Regardless, the point is whatever flipping technique you’ve come up with for your class, just make sure that it doesn’t make the students nervous or end up distracting them.
  2. Creating unnecessarily-prolonged videos.
    Ever wonder, what makes lectures so boring and tedious to students? It is because they are too lengthy! And if you make the videos as long as the conventional lectures are, the result would be the same: a lackluster learning experience. So, what could be the best way to deliver a video lecture? Keep them, “Short-short-short!” says Jon Bergmann, a TED-Education specialist and the pioneer of Flipped Classroom Movement, along with Aaron Sams. Jon says that instead of making longer videos, “make one video per discrete objective”. I totally agree with Jon, because, after all, short and individual lessons are easy to soak and remember. Jon further states that the length of the video lesson should depend on the academic standard of the students. For instance, make a 4-6 min video for a 4th grader or a 10-15 min video for a 10th grader.
  3. Leaving the students on their own.
    It is important to understand that flipped classroom doesn’t mean automated learning. You just can’t abandon your students by equipping them a video presentation and expecting that they would learn from it on their own. They aren’t even at that level yet, where they could do things on their own. Take for instance graduates, who are able to do dissertations on their own, or even if they face any problem with it they get dissertation help. Be it video lessons or not, remember that your students always need you. It is mainly because they are so used to your teaching that they can’t make sense of their lessons until they learn it directly from you. April Lynn Burton, a French teacher at Francis Howell Central High School, learned that through her mistakes in the first year of her flipped classroom. April says that at first she tried to make video assignments using the textbook, without her voice explaining the content of the video. As a result, her flipped classroom failed terribly and she ended up receiving complaints from her students saying, “You never teach us anymore” says April. She further says, “My students wanted to hear my voice and see my face.” So, she started recording the lessons and used her own explanations of the topics in the videos. Consequently, she started seeing double the engagement as compared to a non-flipped classroom. So, what we learned from her? Don’t leave your students assuming that they would soak all the material without their teacher’s assistance.
  4. Never making the students accountable for work.
    It is highly-essential to hold every student, in a flipped classroom, accountable for the delivered video assignments. It is not only reckless to leave the students without even checking up how much they have understood, but it is also very detrimental for their studies. Marc Seigel, a teacher of Chemistry at the Middleton High School, in Middleton, puts emphasis on the importance of having a solid accountability system to enable teachers keep a track of their students’ academic growth and development. This can be done by giving a short assignment to students asking questions taken from the video lessons, or asking the students to present a short note on what they have learned from the video. Marc further says, “It’s also important that students know the objective of what they’re learning. This gives them responsibility for their own learning and lets them understand that it’s not just all about fun, or all about the dry process of getting an ‘A’ on a test; it’s about a larger objective.”

Final Wrap-up

George Bernard Shaw said, “A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.” In other words, making mistakes isn’t bad at all, but learning nothing from them definitely is! So, learn from the mistakes of your fellow teachers and try to avoid them  in your flipped classroom as much as possible.