In addition to the Office of Learning Resources, The Digital and Multimedia Learning Department also includes an Office of Online Professional Learning, which is lead by veteran educator Joe Crawford. Within this arm of Professional Learning in the Cobb County School District, Joe focuses upon online professional learning solutions. This week’s post illustrates a professional learning strategy administrators can implement to provide more meaningful and teacher-centered training: flipped professional development.
Teachers have been flipping their lessons for many years, where students learn the content at home and practice what they have learned during the school day, and as the infographic to the right represents, the number of teachers flipping their classroom has been increasing since 2012.
Many districts and schools ask teachers to be innovative in their pedagogy to engage students and make their classrooms more student-centered by employing the use of strategies such as flipped lessons or problem-based learning; however, are we being innovative in how we train our teachers? Are we providing opportunities for teachers to choose what, where, and how they learn as we are beginning to do with our students?
If in a traditional school-wide staff meeting schedule, teachers are engaged in a 90 minute session, once a month, this equals 13.5 hours in the course of a school year. That is equal to almost two 8-hour days! Typically, staff meetings focus on operational topics in addition to reasserting school instructional directives. Imagine if you had those 13.5 hours to support teachers with instructional strategies while they kept up-to-date on operational information on their own. Switching from ‘sit and get’ staff meetings to a flipped staff meeting may be one solution to the problem we all have heard all too often, “I don’t have time for that when I have lessons to plan and papers to grade!”.
There are six key elements you can implement to begin the process of flipping the traditional staff meeting and creating teacher-centered staff meetings:
- Create monthly screencasts that focus on information and primers, which are your instructions/directions for the face-2-face (f2f) meeting time. For example, the primer would include: directions for an activity; overview of a topic; professional article or video to preview; directions/instructions for registering for a software program that will be discussed in the f2f meeting. By including the information that is important to the function and operation of your school (i.e. announcements and reminders) in a screencast, you can more easily ensure that your f2f meetings maximize the quality of the time your staff has with one another.
- Ensure the staff meeting is 100% teacher centered. Use the time to engage your teachers in collaborative conversations with their peers – no more “sit and get” meetings.
- Survey your staff and use the data to plan the professional learning activities. Google, Office 365, and Survey Monkey are all easy-to-use survey tools that you can send to your staff through an email. Use that survey data to identify topics, activities your staff want or need. This step also allows your staff to have ownership in their learning. The topics will be more relevant to their needs and also help them feel “listened to”. You may also want to consider providing choices for your teachers based on the topics they submitted in the survey.
- Utilize teacher leaders to be facilitators of professional learning topics. Many times, teachers learn best from other teachers who are undergoing similar experiences day-by-day. This provides opportunities for teachers to share their expertise within the context of your school and be a resource for one another.
- Flipped staff meetings can also build a sense of community within your building by encouraging them to work within and outside of their usual collaborative groups. By redirecting your f2f time to focus on instruction-oriented topics, you will also provide opportunities for staff to work cross grade level, outside their departments, and outside their group of friends.
- Now you can say to your staff, “Do as I say, AND as I do”. As the instructional leader, you are able to model your expectations you have for your teachers. As you experience the process of flipping your staff meetings, you will also experience the advantages and challenges alongside your staff. This will help build an understanding of the process and allow you to also become a resource for your teachers with implementing this instructional strategy in their classrooms. Simply put, when you model the flipped concept, your teachers will grow to feel more comfortable with taking similar risks with their students.
Flipped staff meetings help you focus your face-to-face time on what matters most: supporting student success. In doing so, you become the example for your teachers by modeling student-centered learning environments where the students feel as though they have been heard, are safe, and are provided choices and ownership in their learning. Flipped staff meetings provide hours – maybe even days – of additional professional learning for your teachers, and empowers your teachers to learn from one another, improve their instructional practices, and help everyone in your school community succeed.
- Melinda Miller, principal of Willard East Elementary in Willard, Missouri, opened the school year with this two-part flipped faculty meeting [Part 1 (5:51) and Part 2 (3:55)].
- Principal of St. Edmond’s Academy in Wilmington, Delaware, Tricia Scott set the stage for an upcoming professional development day with this flipped video (4:05) [compatible with Firefox and Chrome].
- Peter DeWitt posted a video on the Dignity for All Students Act to familiarize Poestenkill Elementary School teachers and other district staff with the new law. He also welcomed teachers and parents back to school with this video that outlines testing expectations, the Common Core standards, and upcoming events.