Does the label ‘Flipped Classroom’ do my practice a justice?

ImageMy colleague Carolyn Durley (@okmbio) created another fabulous blog post titled ‘Flipped Classroom Renovates Mindset.’ Carolyn received a comment from Chris Wejr (@ChrisWejr) stating that he was a huge fan of the work Carolyn was doing but wasn’t sure the label “Flipped Classroom” did her teaching a justice because she does so much more than just traditional flipping. Chris’s excellent response really got me thinking, does the label ‘Flipped Classroom’ do my practice a justice?


As a Flipped Classroom educator I spend a lot of time explaining and in some cases defending what my Flipped Classroom looks like. “It isn’t about the videos,” or “my students don’t watch the videos as homework” are phrases I seem to regurgitate on a daily basis. The phrase Flipped Classroom can be extremely limiting at times as many of us have expanded it in very different directions.

The quick and dirty definition of the Flipped Classroom involves students watching videos at home and doing their homework in class. We have all heard this and for some of us Flipped Classroom advocates we fight this adamantly as this is not the Flipped Classroom we know. When Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams first came up with this idea it was formed as a way to move their practice forward towards the aspects Chris Weir pointed out that Carolyn is doing: “effective assessment practices, learning principles, collaborative classroom, student voice and relationships.”

Yet regardless of the time I spend informing and defending I am still satisfied calling myself a Flipped Classroom teacher. My definition of the Flipped Classroom is simply just a flip (insert → change, shift, augmentation, etc.) in my thinking. I no longer think I have to be the dispenser of knowledge as I did before. I used to lecture my students every single day for hours because I didn’t know there was another way. I used to think teaching to the middle was the only way,. “There is no way you can differentiate with a class of 30” I used to say. I used to think that homework was necessary and important. These are all huge flips in my thinking.

I have flipped how I think about assessment. I ensure my students master learning outcomes before they progress in the course, I give my students different ways to demonstrate their learning, and I let students take their summative assessments when they feel prepared. Another flip!

I no longer care what subject someone teaches when I do collaboration, I care about who they are as a teacher. Good teaching is good teaching regardless of content area. A flip in the way I look at Pro-D!

The Flipped Classroom to me is a flip in my mindset, a flip in the way I think about and run my classroom. 

Perhaps we need a new definition for what it is many of us are doing in our classroom. We are clearly doing more than creating videos and giving our students worksheets. Those who truly investigate what good Flipped Classroom teaching is will realize it is no different than good PBL teaching, there are ways at doing it effectively and ineffectively. As Chris accurately pointed out there are many varieties to Flipped Classroom teaching, as there are to any other types of teaching out there regardless of the label. By calling myself a Flipped Classroom educator I am lumping myself in with some of the most fantastic educators I have ever met (and some I probably never will) and I have created a PLN that continues to drive my thinking forward….for that I am grateful.

We could call the Flipped Classroom something different…., is ‘Wizbang Teaching’ taken? Has a nice ring….no? But for now I am ok with the name. I know what my Flipped Classroom is and the ones who matter most do too, my students.


About flippingmath

Math Teacher, Flipper, Blue Jays Fan
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6 Responses to Does the label ‘Flipped Classroom’ do my practice a justice?

  1. barqu says:

    This is bang on Graham. I think the term needs renovation since once you get into it your practice changes significantly. Great post

    • flippingmath says:

      Ya you might be right. Its just a label to me really, a label that quite frankly has worked out for the most part. If I have to explain to some what my Flipped Classroom is and how it differs from the traditional definition I am ok for that.

      Thanks for the comment Quinn!

  2. Ashli says:

    This ‘definition’ quite works for me. Flipping the old way to teaching (death-by-lecture) to something research-based and student-focused. Quality. Thanks for sharing on Global Math last night!

  3. Sascha Sciandra says:

    Maybe just call it Montessori style teaching :p

  4. Sascha Sciandra says:

    Not sure dont know much about it to be honest other then the kids work at their own pace in a self learner environment.

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