What if You Flipped Your Faculty Meetings?

Dear Principals,

I've got a professional challenge for you: I want you to flip every faculty meeting during the 2012-2013 school year.

Doing so would be a breeze, I bet.  You could:

(1). Use YouTube's video recorder and your laptop's webcam to record 10-15 minute videos sharing all of the important content that you normally share during faculty meetings.

(2). Ask faculty members to use simple question charts like this one to track their own personal thinking while watching your videos the day before your meeting is scheduled.

(3). Break your staff up into cross-discipline and grade level table groups during your actual faculty meetings to wrestle with the questions that THEY came up with while watching your videos. 

(4). Spend the final 10 minutes making any key points that you HAVE to deliver in person and/or allowing table groups to share their final reactions to the content shared in your videos.

What's beautiful about flipping your faculty meetings is you are modeling an instructional practice that you'd like to see spreading in your classrooms. Flipping empowers students, giving them ownership over the direction of their learning — and that feels good whether you're 12 or 27. 

My bet is that teachers will enjoy your faculty meetings WAY more when the keys to the conversation are turned over to them.  More importantly, my bet is that teachers will be WAY less intimidated by the notion of flipping the classroom when they see that even their curmudgeonly old bossman can pull it off.

I also like that flipped faculty meetings become places where cross-departmental and grade level conversations can actually happen. 

The truth is that most schools are incredibly isolated places simply because there's no time for meeting with people beyond your core learning teams. If dude isn't in the room next to mine, the chances I'm going to hunt him down for a deep and meaningful conversation when I've got three thousand papers to grade is about zero. 

And faculty meetings as their currently structured — 30-45 minutes once a month where information is delivered instead of created — do little to make those kinds of cross-conversations possible even when everyone is sitting in the same room with each other. 

But if they're flipped — if the information that needs to be delivered is consumed before the meeting even begins — there's PLENTY of time for teachers to learn from — and to build relationships with — peers who work in different departments or on different hallways. 

#suhweet

The moral of this story is that we CAN'T be surprised by teachers who run quiet classrooms where lecture is the norm and empowering learners is the exception when those same teachers sit silently listening in faculty meetings for decades on end.

The first step in changing learning environments for kids is changing learning environments for teachers — and the most common learning environment for teachers is still the faculty meeting. They are powerful opportunities for principals to serve as instructional leaders, proving that new practices like flipping ARE possible.

So whaddya' think? 

Is this doable?

____________________________

Related Radical Reads:

Innovation and Intellectual Collisions

Environments that Build Walls

Hitting Home Runs 50 Feet at a Time

 

44 thoughts on “What if You Flipped Your Faculty Meetings?

  1. Thomas Santo

    We have discarded the typical staff meeting format years ago. At first the administrator assigned staff to committees. Committess discussed issues that were determined to be the focus for the school community. Guess what, this administrator has a team of staff members who come up with innovative ideas and reap a harvest of student achievement. It works well. No regrets from this administrator who has been principal for 14 years, teacher for 18 years.

  2. Shannon

    For those confused by Flipping, download my Flipped Teaching Matrix stashed in an open DropBox folder…it’s free! And you don’t have to be a member of DropBox or give your email address to get this awesome resource!

  3. Malcolm

    Good idea. I ask a similar proposition: If we expect Creative/Critical Thinking of our students, then why don’t we expect it of teachers, admin and managers?

  4. Barbi Honeycutt, Ph.D.

    Great post Bill. I’m glad to see others are thinking about the concept of flipping other types of environments, not just classes. Flipping itself doesn’t always have to rely on technology either – it’s the concept of switching the focus from the speaker (or teacher, or leader of the meeting) to the participants. This structure can happen successfully with or without technology, but I like the use of the technology to deliver information in the case you’ve described in your article.
    I have expanded the idea of flipping classes to flip programs, workshops, seminars, meetings, and training sessions, so I’m always excited to see others getting involved in the conversation!
    Barbi Honeycutt, Ph.D.
    Flip It Consulting
    flipitconsulting.com

  5. Joan

    I like the idea of flipping a faculty meeting. It seems that it would allow time at work to be more productive.
    I think Ryan brings up a good point about the challenge of one way vs. face to face information consumption. It can still be passive learning.

  6. Christy

    This idea is interesting and I am all about empowering students with the material they are learning, but I agree with Anneke’s comment about wanting less homework for them not more. Not all students have access to internet at home which may inconvenience the family. It is possible to send a book home or papers to review instead of videos. Then everyone has access to it.
    I do think flipping faculty meetings is important. At our school we are sort of doing this already. Not at the “faculty meeting,” but teachers give presentations at grade level meetings and other special meetings. It adds a whole other deminsion to the meeting!

  7. Joan

    Flipping faculty meetings sounds like a good idea. It frees up teachers to view the meeting when it is convenient and makes required meeting time more useful.
    I appreciate the dialog concerning the flipped classroom. I think Ryan brings up a good point with one way info consumption vs. face to face. It is a novel concept but still involves passive learning.

  8. AnnekeRadin

    Bill,
    Thanks for the response. I really like the idea of having the social learning piece as the “carrot”, but also having a system in place for students who didn’t watch the videos outside of class.
    As an aside, I tried to use TedEd last spring, but the school’s filter still blocks the YouTube videos, even when viewed through the Ted Ed site. My district has been more than willing to work with me on many filtering issues, but this one is just not going to get opened up. I’m looking for a way to view teacher-selected YouTube videos on another website so students can view them on mobile devices at school. Any ideas?
    Anneke

  9. Wmchamberlain

    Bill,
    You make a great point about delivering the information without distraction or disruption. If I tried to talk for 15 minutes in my classroom I would lose the kids quickly. I figure if I talk for more than a couple minutes I am wasting our time. Typically I give an overview of the lesson and have them get the information from the class blog.
    As a professional that is passionate about teaching and learning, I spend a lot of time outside of the classroom learning. If I give homework to my students they are having to spend time on learning something they may not be very passionate about. This also limits the amount of time they have to pursue their own passions. Our curriculum is way too narrow to justify that.
    I believe you are right to expect teachers to be passionate enough about teaching and learning to want to engage this way in meetings, I just don’t think that necessarily transfers to our students.

  10. Bill Ferriter

    Bo wrote:
    Lee Burns at @PDSheadmaster does this with his Board – flips the board
    meetings. Pretty cool. The principals at the school will be trying
    next…now that theyve seen their head do so
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    This is such an important point, Bo — and I think it may have been missed in my original post. For me, flipping the faculty meeting isnt ALL about making more productive use of that time. Its also about modeling a student-driven, student-centered learning environment. Im more than a little tired of hearing leaders TELL me what Im supposed to be doing in my classroom without ever modeling those practices themselves.
    Role modeling is a part of instructional leadership — and faculty meetings are a great place for that role modeling to happen.
    Hope youre well…
    Bill

  11. Bo Adams

    If I were principalling next year, I would definitely do this. I employed flipping at a micro level for parts of some faculty meetings, but I never went whole hog. I believe I would have in 12-13. I think your readers make excellent inquiries and points in the comments, and I feel your responses are ON. Lee Burns at @PDSheadmaster does this with his Board – flips the board meetings. Pretty cool. The principals at the school will be trying next…now that they’ve seen their head do so.

  12. Steven Weber

    Bill:
    This is brilliant! Your writing style is thought-provoking and you continue to stretch my thinking. Thank you for sharing how this would look in a school setting. I forwarded your article to all K-12 principals and assistant principals in our school district.
    I appreciate your ideas, strategies, and examples of how to support teaching and learning! Keep up the great work!

  13. Bill Ferriter

    Katie wrote:
    Believe me teachers are working hard. One thing they need is more time
    to get the job done…not less. Something has to give. I am a good
    teacher – National Board, I develop curriculum for the county, 100% AP
    pass rate, I train teachers…what I want from a faculty meeting is just
    the facts/updates/or excellent staff development from articulate
    experts..
    .not wasted gab time brainstorming and filling up chart paper.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Katie,
    I am a full time classroom teacher too — so I know full well just how hard teachers are working. And I feel your pain when it comes to the challenges of keeping up given the limited amount of time that we have do do our work. I struggle with that every day too.
    But a few reactions:
    1). If youre grading 10,000 papers a year, one quick way to save time is to grade less and involve your students in self-assessment more. Feedback doesnt demand a letter grade from a teacher in order to be valuable. Check out the work of Dylan William for practical examples of how to steal back some of your planning time by changing the way you assess learning — and remember, Im only asking you to find an additional 15 minutes. Thats GOT to be doable for someone who is grading as much as you are.
    2). Its hard to argue that time spent in meaningful conversations with peers is wasted gab time. If it is, dont you think that you have a responsibility as a professional to up the level of the conversation? Ive been involved in table groups that were unproductive too. Happens all the time. But when I actually choose to get involved and to hold myself accountable for leading those groups towards a more productive conversation, the conversation ALWAYS ends up being meaningful and worthwhile. At the same time, when I choose to sit with a this is pointless attitude, it is.
    Basically what Im saying is that we bear some responsibility for what our time together looks like. If its pointless, do something about it. Start asking What if instead of Yeah, but. Solutions — and the people committed to finding them — are powerful.
    Does this make sense?
    Bill

  14. Bill Ferriter

    William asked a bunch of good questions in his comment, but I thought Id tackle two. He wrote:
    If 15 minutes is enough time for me to be given the information I need, why is it necessary to do it before the meeting?
    Is this really what we want to model for teachers to implement in their classrooms?
    – – – – – – – – – –
    First, glad to see you in this space, Pal — and Im always down with push back.
    In response to your first question, I think delivering information in a concise way — whether youre a teacher or a principal — is always easier when there isnt an audience in front of you. You dont have to wait for general introductory comments. You dont have to wait for the stragglers to wander in after being late to the meeting. You dont have to feel like you have to embellish or entertain.
    That means your 15 minute comments can actually be delivered in 15 minutes — instead of the 20-30 that the same comments might take during your lesson.
    And as far as is this something we want teachers implementing in the classroom, my answer is ABSOLUTELY. Heres why: There are few — if any — opportunities for learners to drive conversations and to set direction in most traditional classrooms. Instead, theres a TON of content stuffing going on.
    While there is always going to be content that needs to be delivered to kids, dont you think its time for us to TRY to incorporate more student-directed learning experiences into our classrooms? What message to we send to kids about their own abilities as learners when we NEVER trust them to be in charge of classroom happenings?
    Now, Im not ready to flip every lesson every day — but I am planning on trying to flip one per week. And Im convinced that if teachers saw flipping in their own learning spaces, theyd be way less intimidated by it — and by turning learning over to learners — as a practice.
    Does this make sense?
    Bill

  15. Katie Brinkley

    The idea of a flipped faculty meeting sounds trendy, but I would be opposed to it. I think teachers have to to start pushing back at all of the ways their planning/grading time after school is being encroached upon. Watching a Youtube video and answering questions in advance of a meeting that already takes up my after hours grading/planning time would push me over the edge. I am already spending 12-14 hours a day on school work and 5-8 hours on the weekend. I teach high school and I surprised myself when I counted at the end of the year that I had over 10,000 grades/assignments for my students last year. Believe me teachers are working hard. One thing they need is more time to get the job done…not less. Something has to give. I am a good teacher – National Board, I develop curriculum for the county, 100% AP pass rate, I train teachers…what I want from a faculty meeting is just the facts/updates/or excellent staff development from articulate experts…not wasted gab time brainstorming and filling up chart paper.

  16. Damian

    Bill,
    I’ve been thinking about this concept for years (before anyone was “flipping” anything, or at least calling it as such), and have yet to see it done, either due to desire or ability. Unless you have any major objections, I’d like to explore this topic in depth with administrators and teachers at Edcamp Leadership in NJ later this month. Will give you full credit and reference the blogpost, of course, and do a writeup of the outcome on my blog.

  17. Bruce K

    Bill, I have been running a pilot programme for the past 12 months where we have been flipping professional development for teachers. This has involved creating the instructional material in video format and then trouble shooting and developing pedagogical approaches during the face to face sessions. The largest problem we experienced, as identified already by a number of other contributors, is the idea of teachers having to do “homework” for the sessions. Initially we thought we had to allow time for teachers to view the training videos during the face to face time in order for the ensuing discussion to be relevant for all. This simply frustrated those who had diligently completed their homework. The most effective approach was to presume all had watched the videos prior to the face to face and move on. We found this to be the most effective method for establishing a culture of “pre-viewing” the videos.
    The other extremely important issue, already pointed out by some of your readers, is that of making sure the face to face time is invaluable. As you correctly mention, allowing the participants to take over and suggest (in our case) how the training could be implemented in their context, allowing for full (and almost exclusive) participant input to drive the sessions was one way to make sure there was significant value for the teachers.
    Another important issue, generally overlooked, is the content and quality of the video. In your context, I would advise that the quality and content of the video is extremely important. Teachers will immediately transfer their reluctance from the face to face meeting to the video if the video is the same as the meeting. Teachers are generally very savvy consumers of media, so work needs to be put in to the development of the videos.
    With a full school year under our belt we still have a way to go before we can say we are successfully delivering PD through a flipped classroom approach. The culture of pre-viewing (for teachers) is proving to be the hardest to change and finding the right “recipe” for the video is also taking time.
    On the positive side, teachers are beginning to see the value of the approach and many are starting to use it as one of their pedagogical approaches in the classroom.

  18. Dan McGuire

    Here’s a thought to avoid Dan C.’s issue with ‘the contract’- why have a meeting?
    I’d much rather that the principal wrote their communication, posted it on a Moodle forum and let everyone respond as much or little as they liked. If an ‘attendance’ feature is required, teachers can simply post, “I’ve read it and am considering the info.” Thatis at least as good as day dreaming through a video.

  19. Brett Gruetzmacher

    Bill-
    Once again you come up with a “why didn’t I think of that” idea. A prinicpal could “create’ all the content during the summer months when it is easier to “think” for longer than 10 minutes. I love how Dogtrax built on your topic as well with the TED site. Good usable stuff (all gin AND fizz to boot.)
    Take care.
    Brett

  20. Kadaniels

    I am so happy that this conversation is happening! We have been flipping our PD for over a year now. More information can be found at flippedpd.org – this process was transformative for teachers. We saw more growth with personalized, professional development than any other form of PD. In addition, the teachers loved it. We will be doing a Google Hangout OnAir next week on FlippedPD. Follow @kadaniels for more information.

  21. TeachMoore

    Bill,
    I think this is a marvelous concept and well worth exploring. I’m suggesting it to my community college division chair and to the high school principals with whom I work.
    Janet’s suggestion is great; the info doesn’t have to be in a video from the principal (could be audio, links, text). Wmchamberlain is right, of course, there will be teachers who won’t watch the video or listen to the audio (which they could easily do while doing something else–you know, like many of us do in faculty meeting anyway); just as we have students who could do their homework, but refuse. [Making a distinction here between those who won’t and those who can’t].
    It may only take 15-20 minutes to present the information, but I would appreciate having time to consider and respond to the information. Of course, that may be one more reason why some administrators will want to avoid it.
    What I’m picking up is that more of our faculty meetings could and should be instructional and promote collaborative leadership.

  22. Wmchamberlain

    Hope you are ready for some push back 🙂
    What if I don’t want to watch/listen to a 15 minute video by a principal?
    If I don’t have the background knowledge needed to discuss things with my peers, how will those 15 minutes remedy that? If 15 minutes is enough time for me to be given the information I need, why is it necessary to do it before the meeting?
    Is this really what we want to model for teachers to implement in their classrooms?

  23. Janet

    Great challenge! I wonder if having principals use only videos is restrictive as flipping can mean using any structure content that allows for time to “mull over” ideas. One thing that needs to happen with this is work around creating an environment that invites active participation (eg. your ideas matter). Then there’s a vested interest in the activity rather than going thru the steps (in a faculty meeting or in a classroom).
    I wonder how many principals have had this experience with their senior supervisors? Maybe this challenge should go out to everyone?

  24. Linda Clinton

    As a staunch (yet progressive) unionist, I have to chime in on this one. There are probably historic reasons why the aforementioned contract spells out what can/not be required before or during a faculty meeting. But times change, and contracts must as well. When unions and administrations have positive relationships, with a win-win approach to bargaining, change can (and does) happen. Perhaps it can begin with a memo of understanding, or a “pilot” at a building willing to give it a go.

  25. Bill Ferriter

    Hey Kevin,
    Thanks a TON for sharing that TED resource! I had no idea that was out there — and considering that Im going to experiment a bit with flipping this year, Im really jazzed to have found it.
    You made my intellectual day.
    Rock right on,
    Bill

  26. Bill Ferriter

    Anneke wrote:
    At the 7th grade level, I find that homework completion is greatly
    affected by amount of parental involvement. Adding more HW, especially
    HW needing technology, seems to make for an uneven playing field. Your
    thoughts?
    – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Im not completely sold either, Anneke — and I share your worries about whether kids will complete the tasks too. (I teach sixth grade).
    But I disagree with you about the factors behind homework completion. I dont think parent involvement changes the amount of homework that is completed. I think creating tasks that the kids are actually motivated by and engaged in changes the amount of homework that is completed.
    Long story short: Create tasks that kids actually care about and theyll do anything for you.
    In the case of the flipped classroom, the task kids will care about is the social learning opportunities that happen in class the next day. If students are required to prove — through the completion of some kind of viewing guide — that theyve watched the videos before participating in the social learning that happens in class, I bet theyll start watching the videos in advance. It would only take one or two times where they had to sit out to complete the video watching before joining their peers before theyd really make a point to get the boring work over with in advance.
    And as far as unequal access to technology goes, Ive found that we often overestimate the number of kids who cant find their way online. I worked in a school with about 40% of my kids living in some of the poorest neighborhoods in Raleigh a few years back and was shocked to discover that all but 3 of my students had a plan for getting online when they needed/wanted to. Sometimes it was through their parents phones. Sometimes it was through a neighbor or relative with Internet access. Sometimes it was getting to school early or staying in my room during lunch.
    Getting online, though, wasnt a problem when the task was something they cared about.
    Any of this make sense?
    Bill

  27. Bill Ferriter

    Jim wrote:
    Hi Bill,
    I think that step (2) in your list is crucial and probably one that is most likely to get unintentionally skipped.
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    Im with you, Jim — and Ive heard that the same challenge applies to teachers who are flipping the classroom. How do you hold your students — in this case faculty members — accountable for actually watching the videos and then reacting to them in a way that they will be prepared for a meaningful conversation at the meeting.
    In the short term, it might take a similar practice to those we use in our classrooms: Principals would want to collect and review the question sheets. To make it less gotcha-esque, they could say they were really interested in seeing the feedback that everyone generated while watching the videos — which should be true, by the way. Then, after reviewing the responses of individuals, the principal could talk individually to the people who were not following through.
    In the long term, what I REALLY think would happen is that youd need less accountability simply because teachers would be looking forward to the conversations. I know that on my best lessons, I dont have to do much to enforce participation because kids are motivated by the task. My hope is that the same would happen for teachers at faculty meetings.
    The simple truth is that the reason we dont participate now is because were bored to tears. Create a more meaningful activity for us and I bet wed surprise you.
    Make sense?
    Bill

  28. Bill Ferriter

    Ginny wrote:
    Unfortunately, this is assuming staff members are interested in doing
    this instead of getting back to their room to grade the 125 tests
    waiting for them.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    I get it, Ginny — I really do. Ive even BEEN the faculty member sitting silently just counting until the minutes in the faculty meeting ended.
    But thats because I never did anything engaging and/or productive in the faculty meetings.
    I wonder if staff members attitudes towards faculty meetings would change if those meetings were flipped simply because they would have more positive experiences with meetings themselves.
    Ill give you an example: We did a Paideia seminar in our PD the other day instead of a presentation. People REALLY dug it. The vibe coming out of the meeting was more positive than any meeting wed done in the past three years.
    I attribute that to the fact that we were actually learning — instead of just listening.
    Your thoughts?
    Bill

  29. Bill Ferriter

    Joe wrote:
    I see a lot of potential with this, as well as flipping Back to School
    Night. Working on some ideas for that, as well as including a
    TodaysMeet backchannel during the evening.
    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
    Really dig the idea of a backchannel at Back to School night, Joe! While theres definitely risk involved — disgruntled parents could uncork publicly — theres also opportunities for tons of reward — sane parents could see the kinds of unjustified attacks that schools face and come to your defense!
    Looking forward to hearing about your experiments with this!
    Rock on,
    Bill

  30. Bill Ferriter

    Dan wrote:
    Interesting problem that Im sure happens elsewhere: When I asked my
    principal about doing something kind of like this, I was told that he
    cant because of our contract
    – – – – – – – – – – –
    Thats one of the FEW reasons, Dan, that Im happy to work in a non-union state! That kind of craziness would drive me nuts. To formally allow wasted time is stupid on a good day.
    In conversations with other union educators, though, Ive often heard that EVERYTHING can be collectively bargained. I wonder if it would be possible for the rules that would forbid something like this to be collectively erased — or revised back to sanity — in the next rounds of negotiations.
    Would it be a hassle?
    Probably.
    Would it be worth it?
    Definitely.
    Hope youre well,
    Bill

  31. Stephanie Powell

    Mr. F.,
    You make a very interesting point. I believe that flipping a faculty meeting would indeed allow for those vertical conversations that are desperately needed in our learning communities. It would definitely push our thinking in promoting the concept of flipping our classrooms. Thank you,
    Stephanie P.

  32. Anneke Radin-Snaith

    I’m not sold on the concept of ” The Flipped Classroom”? @pernilleripp puts it well here: http://mrspripp.blogspot.com/2012/07/flipping-for-flipped-classroom-seems-to.html
    “Flipping” a classroom makes the assumption that students (or in this case teachers) will watch the videos ahead of time. I am experimenting with less homework, not more. At the 7th grade level, I find that homework completion is greatly affected by amount of parental involvement. Adding more HW, especially HW needing technology, seems to make for an uneven playing field. Your thoughts?

  33. Cashjim

    Hi Bill,
    I think that step (2) in your list is crucial and probably one that is most likely to get unintentionally skipped. Students and teachers alike need a framework with which to access the content and start to build their own knowledge. I might also add another step – maybe step (5) – with the new knowledge gaining through the video and the table group interaction at the meeting TAKE ACTION in the classroom and document how that knowledge was used professionally. These actions could be shared by the staff at the next meeting.

  34. ginnyp

    “there’s PLENTY of time for teachers to learn from — and to build relationships with”. Unfortunately, this is assuming staff members are interested in doing this instead of getting back to their room to grade the 125 tests waiting for them.

  35. Joe_Mazza

    Bill,
    Great idea. I think for a principal to say this is impossible is just being lazy and closed minded. I see a lot of potential with this, as well as “flipping” Back to School Night. Working on some ideas for that, as well as including a TodaysMeet backchannel during the evening. Thanks for helping us think deeper and not accepting the status quo.
    Respectfully,
    Joe

  36. Dan Callahan

    Interesting problem that I’m sure happens elsewhere: When I asked my principal about doing something kind of like this, I was told that he can’t because of our contract. There can’t be anything required of staff for a staff meeting before the meeting or during the meeting other than asking us to sit and listen during the meeting. He can’t ask teachers to do short presentations during the meeting, so that only happens if I ask him if I can. There can be no consuming of any content before the meeting, or the teachers can file a grievance. It’s honestly kind of insane, and one of those things where I think the contract actually hurts us. I get WHY it was probably put in place, but on the face of things, it just leaves out common sense entirely.

  37. Ryan Bretag

    What was interesting for me was the pushback I received when trying this idea: http://www.ryanbretag.com/blog/?p=2545
    Just like students, some or even many are comfortable with the game and things like this change it.
    That said, it worked really well for the committees I lead and our principal did this for faculty meetings with success.
    The challenge remains the consumption of one-way info prior to the face to face gathering that allows us to better utilize that time.

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