The Five Qualities of World-Class Flipped Learning Practitioners

By Jon Bergmann and Errol St.Clair Smith

Have you ever had someone tell you something and quickly replied, “I knew that”?   

It’s funny how often and how intensely we feel the need to let others know that we are:

“Well informed.”

“In the know.”

“Up to speed.”

“Familiar with.”

“On top of our game.“

“Among the enlightened.”

We want others to know that we are not some bozo who doesn’t know the things everybody else seems to know.

That’s why it was pretty humbling to wake up and discover that we didn’t know what it means to be a world-class flipped learning practitioner.

Perhaps we lacked the necessary humility.  But hey, one of us wrote flipped learning books that were translated into 13 languages. The other produced a hundred flipped learning podcasts with guests from all over the globe.  We should have at least had a clue, right?

We didn’t.

The truth is we were walking around in our own “little worlds,”  mistaking what we saw on the horizon for the limits of the flipped learning universe.

It wasn’t.

Last year we started collaborating deeply with a coalition of flipped learning researchers, master teachers, technologists and hundreds of passionate flipped classroom practitioners around the world. We talked, listened, innovated, and cross-pollinated ideas.  Then came the big aha! Somewhere during the process, we discovered what it means to be a “world-class” flipped learning practitioner, and more importantly, why it matters.

The Five Qualities of World-Class Flipped Learning Practitioners

There are hundreds of thousands of teachers who have flipped a lesson. Thousands of teachers have flipped their classes, and hundreds of educators are teaching others about flipped learning. But there are five qualities of a world-class flipped learning practitioner.

World-Class Flipped Learning Practitioners:

  • Are the leading learners in the field
  • Are connected to flipped learning innovators around the globe
  • Are aware of the latest global insights and innovations
  • Use the most current global best practices
  • Are helping to define the “next” practices in flipped learning

Let’s take a closer look at each.

#1 The Leading Learners in the Field

Because world-class flipped learning practitioners know that flipped learning is not static, they are eager to expand their knowledge. How they expand their knowledge is irrelevant. What distinguishes them is their voracious appetite to learn all they can about how the Flipped Learning model is evolving. Consequently, their understanding and flipped learning skill set is growing faster than the typical flipped learning practitioner.

#2   Connected to Flipped Innovators Around the Globe

One of the most astounding things we discovered is that most flipped learning is practiced in isolation. The isolation can be at the classroom level, the school level or the country level. The “typical” flipped learning practitioner is not connected to flipped learning innovators around the world. In fact, many flipped learning practitioners are struggling with problems that have already been solved by their peers in the class down the hall, the school down the road or the country next door.

Sadly, the isolation is perpetuated by flipped training that is also disconnected from global innovations and best practices. World-class flipped learning practitioners understand the need to break out of the silos and connect with flipped learning innovators around the world…. and they do.

#3  Aware of the Latest Global Insights and Innovations

Because world-class flipped learning practitioners are not operating in solitary confinement, their knowledge of flipped learning is not limited by the borders of their classrooms, school districts, country, or native culture. They are aware of the latest local and global innovations in flipped learning.  They are the teachers, administrators, trainers, and technologists who have the broadest understanding of flipped learning in the world.

#4  Using the Most Current Global Best Practices

Knowing the global best practices in flipped learning is good. Integrating them into your class projects, lesson plans and programs is even better.

Pulling a tooth with a cavity became obsolete the moment dentists figured out how to fill cavities and cap teeth. Today, yanking teeth that can be restored would be malpractice. World-class flipped learning practitioners are committed to knowing and using the most current practices, strategies and tools.  

#5  Defining the “Next” Practices in Flipped Learning

As mentioned, world-class flipped learning practitioners are expanding their understanding and skill set faster than most. They are connected to flipped innovators around the globe, are aware of the latest global insights and innovations, and are using the most current global best practices.

Consequently, world-class flipped learning practitioners are exploring the leading edge of flipped learning, discovering new possibilities and defining the NEXT practices in flipped learning.  These are the people to watch to get a glimpse of where flipped learning is going in the future.

Why World-Class Flipped Learning Practitioners Matter

In an episode on BAM Radio, we interviewed the renowned professor Yong Zhao about the “four qualities of teachers who create world-class learners.” He made many fascinating points.  

Relevant to our topic, Zhao says that we need to reassess what kind of learning resources students have now. “For a long time, teachers were almost the only authoritative source of information and knowledge in the classroom.” Now we have “access to the outside world, a vast amount of information, also a network of potential experts on every subject.”  Zhao concludes that it’s time for educators to shift from “dispensing”  knowledge to helping students navigate the world of knowledge on their own.

In short, to create world-class learners, we must help students navigate the world. To help students navigate the world, we have to get out of our classrooms, schools, countries and silos and navigate the world ourselves.

Said more simply: world-class teachers create world-class learners.

That’s why world-class flipped learning practitioners matter!

What Matters More

We realize that this whole “world-class” thing can sound very intimidating and exclusive. The truth is, a world-class educator is not a goal, it’s a model.

World-class flipped learning practitioners are amazing examples of what can be done with flipped learning. They open our eyes to the possibilities for teaching and learning, and we celebrate them.  But we also celebrate traditional teachers, new teachers, substitute teachers, teachers with PhDs, and teacher’s aides. All educators matter and have a role to play in the education community.

So why are we talking about world-class flipped learning practitioners?  Because they remind us, that no matter how long we’ve been in education, what position we hold or how much we already know, there is always room to grow.  

Yes, it’s the simple commitment to lifelong growth that makes any teacher and any learner world-class. 

Your thoughts?



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