Flipping the Classroom

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Flipping the classroom is a great way to engage students and let them shine!

As an environmental educator, I draw many parallels to the work I do as an interpreter and environmental leader.

For me flipping the classroom draws many parallels to the study of environmental interpretation.  As an interpreter, I have learned techniques that help bring objects to life (trees, birds, the sky).  While these are living things, they are also often taken for granted or people don’t even see them. I am tasked with helping my students not only see them, but see their value, and know how and why  they are connected to them.  So for me, flipping the classroom encourages the student to inquire, interpret and lead their own journey through the subject matter.

Interpretation is translating – translating the content into understandable language (terms and ideas that people understand.  Helping people understand is meeting them where they are at!  No one size fits all – you better be able to run up and down the continuum of the learning ladder – some are on rung 1, 6, 20 and the top of the ladder might be 60.

I also draw parallels to leadership training;  I was taught that you can lead as effectively from the front as you can from the back.  When we flip the classroom, the student steps to the front of the class and the teacher sits at the back of the class.

In his 1994 autobiography, “Long Walk to Freedom,” Mandela also described it this way:

I always remember the regent’s axiom: a leader, he said, is like a shepherd. He stays behind the flock, letting the most nimble go out ahead, whereupon the others follow, not realizing that all along they are being directed from behind. Source – The New Yorker

I love this technique,  because it is from a position of strength that you lead your class.  You are changing the classroom dynamics, changing the way people are thinking and engaging. This shift gets more cylinders firing – more innovation and more confidence in the classroom. This is also relatable from an organization perspective

In general, I think my students will get more value from the lesson when I flip the classroom. This approach  also allows me to see  how their minds work and how they interpret and understand the content, and better customize the learning for my students.

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