Wednesday, November 21, 2012

How I Successfully Used the Flipped PD model

Over the summer I read several articles about flipping classrooms. While I liked the idea, I had some reservations about using a flipped model, especially in an elementary school. Telling an elementary school student to rewind and rewatch a video is like speaking louder and slower to an ESL student. Both type of students will still find themselves confused and frustrated in the end.

But this flipped idea kept percolating around  in my brain...

While shooting hoops in the gym one day this summer I had this crazy idea...

I have to give my boss, Nancy credit.  I came into her office and start talking 90 miles an hour about this flipped stuff and how I think we could use it for staff development. She could have easily taken one look at me and said, NO. She didn't she took a chance and it, in my opinion, paid off!

We were introducing ESD/PBiS (Effective Schoolwide Discipline) to our school this year on top of a new evaluation system and changing curriculum. Time was at a premium, stress was high, and as everyone knows, all an elementary school teacher wants to do is get their room ready for their students. I wanted to respect my teachers' time and thought the flipped Professional Development model would be most effectively used for the ESD introduction.

About a week before the scheduled meeting time I sent out an email  to all attendees describing the Flipped Professiona Development idea.  I did receive some push back. There was some grumbling about having to do work outside the "PD time." It was a new idea and this was expected. Anyone that had a question or concern ended up having me in their classroom within the hour. I explained why I was doing this and how I thought it could benefit them and actually provide them with MORE time. An aside: I went to their classroom on purpose! I wanted to speak to them where they were most comfortable. 

The next day I sent out 4 pieces of information that I wanted them to review. I sent out two articles (one fairly lengthy), a video, and my PowerPoint presentation. Yes, my presentation! I wanted them to have all the reasons and data that I could provide before we met.

What did this accomplish? Quite a bit.

First, it gave each staff member an understanding of what the program was. This helped with the "Why are we doing this?" question.. Next it gave staff members a common vocabulary to use during our Professional Development time. It also gave teachers think time. They were able develop and ask questions that arose from reading and watching the material I had sent out. It had teachers talking! Professional conversations were held in the hallway, staff lounge, and classrooms. Consensus and excitement were building, days before the presentation. Teachers that hadn't watched the videos and read the articles were encouraged to read by their teammates and because they wanted to participate in the conversations. Another aside: I am under no illusion that every staff member watched and read the information I sent out, but many staff members don't get the information when they are sitting right there in the PD!

The day before the meeting I sent out an email with key points and key questions I would be discussing during the Professional Development.

We began the session with a quick recap of what ESD was, Why we were doing it, and the expected outcomes. This overview took FIVE MINUTES MAX! There was no wasted time. We didn't do a jigsaw read, watch an extended video, or sit there and listen to me drone on as I covered the PowerPoint. It was fantastic. Staff members immediately broke into groups and completed a gallery walk answering key questions and checking for understanding. After that we completed two other activities, dealt with logistics/questions about how ESD would look in our school, and we finished by summarizing our learning for the previous hour. We did all of this in ONE HOUR!

Teachers walked out of this Professional Development talking in excited conversations that I now associate with edcamps. Many staff members sought me out that day to tell me how great the Professional Development was, and more importantly how excited they were to begin the ESD program. Teacher were so excited that when I asked who wanted to be part of the ESD committee, I received 15 positive responses. I was truly hoping to get 6 or 7 volunteers.

This Professional Development has been followed up with additional readings and videos sent out via email, keeping with the flipped Professioanl Development model.

I do plan to use the flipped Professional Development model again in our building as it was highly engaging and extremely effective!

Last aside: As we continue to do more with less, this model could be used between schools or even school districts. I can see it used as a blended/flipped learning model. You could find an expert in a neighboring school, have the expert send out all of the information ahead of time, and then the expert would come to your building and present during the assigned time. We have staff members with incredible knowledge  in our district and we must learn to use them in an effective manner.

Questions, thoughts, ideas, or did I leave something out... Leave a comment or contact me on Twitter @philgriffins


  1. Phil
    I like your thought process on this post. The "asides" were valuable as well. Thanks for taking the time to write it out and reflect on the PD so others can learn as well! I should follow your example more often! :) @lconley86