As an FE teacher I often struggle to find the boundary between being an attentive and supportive educator and doing too much for my learners. In all teachers there is a caring nature which drives us above and beyond in helping each student achieve outstanding outcomes. As we all search for new methods and dedicate hours to creating resources it can become easy to place the onus on ourselves rather than our learners. This can be detrimental to teachers, with a GOV.UK survey finding the average  working week to be approximately 54 hours (with around 19 hours outside of the workplace), but can also create bad habits in our learners.

FE institutions get to spend such a short time with their learners yet handle an incredibly difficult transition. We need to nurture them from student to independent adult. They need to be armed for their next step, whether into university, work or training. I’m guilty of creating reels of resources with the best intentions of helping young people gain qualifications. However in doing this I am often leading learners down the simplest path to success in my subject. I believe that my methods in the past have taken away student grit and determination in the favour of outcomes. However through occasionally flipping the classroom I believe these important skills can be instilled in our learners.

The flipped classroom method rotates the traditional method for teaching and learning. Rather than delivering on new topics in session, students access content from home. When they then come into sessions they undertake tasks to consolidate and check their learning, with the teacher free to spend individual time to stretch, challenge and assist each student.  

This method is often successfully aligned with the use of technology. Generation Z are statistically the largest users of personal devices. In Britain the average FE student has at least two smart devices, with phones and tablets being the most common. As teachers we can tap into this device time, giving students easy access to independent learning. The tasks outside of the classroom could be videos (already existing or created by yourself), podcasts (apps such as Podbean are incredibly user friendly), articles or web pages. All of which students will be able to access from a smartphone, making the process feel natural to their habits.

This method can enhance individual choice, with learners choosing a time and place for their learning. They may also personalise the task, choosing to mind map, make notes, prepare questions for the lesson or further their knowledge through research. However, arguably the largest advantage of this style of learning is that it encourages independence. Away from the support and structure of the teacher and classroom, students will be tasked to go it alone. Students will be required to show determination and initiative to problem solve. The majority of our learners will enjoy this challenge and gain a sense of achievement, having truly been responsible for their learning. Allowing students to struggle and persevere as they learn at home can have outstanding benefits in the classroom and further on in their lives, as they will develop grit and the confidence to trust their decision making.

Flipping the classroom need not be a huge shift, it can simply be a rejigging of homework. Homework is traditionally used to stretch our learners further following on from your delivery and activity in sessions. However in the flipped classroom method homework consists of a task which introduces the student to the topic. Session time is then used to stretch and support learners to ensure that they reach their individual best.

Although this method may take some getting used to, it can carry excellent benefits for both teacher and learning and does not require extensive set up to attempt. Education training provider and think tank SOPHIA found that 96% of teachers surveyed would recommend trying the flipped approach after themselves trialling it. Sophia also found that 9 out of 10 teachers in the survey found positive changes in their students and their lessons. 71% also found that their learner outcomes were improved.

This method can be used as little or as extensively as you wish and can really help develop later life skills in your learners. By instilling these skills in our learners we can have a distinct impact on their success outside of the curriculum.

Daniel Wilson, Teacher of Creative Digital Media,  Ashton under-lyne Sixth Form College

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