A New Approach: Flipped Professional Learning

Unlike traditional Professional Learning, ALL flipped PL uses teacher time to focus on application and problem solving rather than content delivery.  In Flipped Professional Learning the traditional information delivery style of professional learning workshops is turned on its head with content development being done outside of workshop time, and synthesis and integration work being done in the workshop time. 

In a flipped PL learning sequence, the professional learning community sets a learning goal related to a specific instructional problem that needs to be solved or reconsidered.  Teachers use technology to engage in individualised self-paced learning for themselves, and then they come together to discuss what they have learned and how they might apply it to the problem at hand.  The benefits of this approach are many.  Here are 5 reasons we think make flipped Professional Learning a terrific option for coaches using the ALL Rich Resource Sets. 

1) Differentiated
Not all professional learners have the same learning needs.  Some may know a lot about the topic of study, while others know very little.  It is difficult, in a content delivery model of teacher learning (the traditional form that PL takes),  to take account of this.  In a Flipped PL model however, teachers spend as much time as they need getting to grips with information through the use of video, podcasts reading and instructional guides.  They then come together, more skilled and knowledgeable than they were before they did the self study and they can engage more productively in collaborative, challenging and engaging learning experiences focused on solving problems of practice.

2) Personal Control
Learners learn differently.  Some learners like to have time to think about what they are learning before they are asked to discuss it and apply it.  In a flipped model, the initial learning takes place in a technology assisted safe space.  The pace and order of learning can be controlled by each learner and additional online research can supplement the resources provided to clarify and develop ideas.  In this model, professional learners are active throughout the process of learning about new ideas.

3) Time Efficient
Professional learning time is precious and often not used to great effect.  Sitting listening (even with occasional break out discussions) offers quite different learning opportunities to engaging in active problem solving with colleagues.  Using a flipped model can make the most of valuable workshop/professional learning time by creating spaces for rich discussion.  The self-study portion of the workshop can be counted as professional learning hours.  For example, if there are two hours of online self-study and one hour of workshop, teachers can be credited for all three hours of the required work.  

4) Authentically Interactive

Coaches should COACH.  They should guide thinking, ask great questions and challenge teachers to think with them to solve problems of practice.  In workshop models where information delivery is the goal, there is little time for meaningful interaction.  Flipping your professional learning allows the teachers (who, let’s face it, are clever learners in their own right) to take advantage of working WITH you rather than listening TO you. 

5) Applied Learning
Listening to ideas about how to fine tune instruction is the easiest part of professional learning!  The harder part is getting new ideas some traction on the classroom floor.  In traditional professional learning methods, teachers listen to ideas, go away and then on their own try to figure out how to apply the knowledge to their teaching situation.  In a Flipped model, teachers process the information on their own and then get increased time to talk about how to apply that knowledge to their own teaching practice.

Getting Going with Flipped PL

To start you off on your Flipped PL learning journey, we have created some suggestions for resource study and problem-solving.  In each set we have identified resource sets that can work well together and we provide ideas for discussion prompts to use in the Flipped Workshop time.  Remember that every school is unique so some of these suggestions may be useful to some schools and not others.  Alternatively, if you find the more traditional way of delivering professional learning we have made that option available to you as well.

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