But ... Why start with 'why'? Wouldn't it make much more sense to tell stakeholders 'what' you're going to do?
This concept of 'why' is actually the first step in a practical framework for marketing a product to others. In his TED Talk, "How Great Leaders Inspire Action", author, Simon Sinek, discusses how great leaders are those that are capable of getting others to 'buy' what they believe in. That is, they are able to articulate--up front--their 'why' (what they believe in), then 'how' (how their beliefs will manifest for others), and finally the 'what' (here's what you'll experience; the proof of your beliefs). Generally, we begin by describing what our work/services will do for others rather than our belief statements. And historically, whether you're examining the actions taken by Apple or the Wright Brothers, as Sinek points out, you'll almost always find that their actions follow the progression of 'why' --> 'how' --> 'what'.
Returning back to the introductory concept of renewing the vision for education, it follows that if teachers are going to effectively inspire their students, then they need to be clear about their intentions for students/philosophy about learning. If schools are going to effectively support and help their staff develop capacity to help their students learn more deeply, then again, intentions/philosophies need to be shared and made clear. And this hierarchical inclusion continues with schools and systems of education and with systems of education with provincial/state ministries.
Recently, I was reading through the Ontario Ministry of Education's A Renewed Vision for Education in Ontario (April 2014), and this document does just that: clearly outlines the 'why', 'how' and 'what' regarding making Ontario students' educational experiences better (perhaps, different might be a better term to use). For instance, right from the outset of the document, you'll notice that the authors bring forth the notion that prosperity is directly linked to having a strong educational system. I, for one, would like to experience the various forms of prosperity; thus, I'm going to 'buy' in to the belief that we need a strong educational system. Can you see where I'm going with this? The next sentence confirms the first by explaining that we (Ontario) are looked upon, internationally, as having a strong educational system. As for 'how', four achievement goals are proposed and clearly outlined --Achieving Excellence, Ensuring Equity, Promoting Well-Being, and Enhancing Public Confidence. And lastly, the proof of Ontario's educational beliefs--the 'what'--is the maintenance and enhancement of the province's educational system.
Well, albeit that this is timely and important information, you might be asking yourself, "Isn't this a blog concerning flipped classrooms and flipped learning?" And you're right ... stick with me, as the connections are on their way. But the connections come with a caveat: you must first make sure that you're familiar with the Pillars of Flipped Learning (pdf) and the goals in A Renewed Vision for Education (pdf).
Now that you've taken a look at both documents, here's a challenge for you: with regards to what you know/now know about the flipped model of learning, consider how flipped learning might be a complementary means for helping the province of Ontario achieve the goals set out in A Renewed Vision ... I think that you'll be pleasantly surprised by the vast number of connections you'll make! [Just to let you know, I'm also participating in this activity. In fact, I've posted the document with some highlighting of areas where I think that flipped learning will help Ontario to reach its goals (pdf; attached at the bottom of this post). Feel free to compare your highlights to my own, and if you'd like to discuss them, I'm only a few clicks and keystrokes away--better yet, feel free to comment on this post :)]
Lastly, why do I think that this is important--that is, that we take the time to consider how flipped learning can help enhance students' educational experiences? That's because I believe that it can. And I'm not the only one thinking this. There are many educators across the US and Canada who are looking to flipped instruction as a means of taking their students to deeper levels of learning. And deeper learning, according to author/researcher/former Dean of Education at OISE/UT, Michael Fullan, can be fostered by using more powerful methods--flipped classrooms and project-based learning, as examples (Professionally Speaking, September 2014).
In closing, it may not be so much about being better: if you're an educator, then you've most likely been a part of a fantastic school community that has worked very hard to help their students be successful. Rather, it's about being 'different'--'different', according to Director of Education, David Thomas, of the Upper Canada District School Board--will allow us to help our students reach deeper, more meaningful levels of learning.
So, I guess the next, natural question you need to ask yourself is, "How can I differentiate my practice?", followed by this series: "Will I flip my classroom? Incorporate more student-chosen projects? Spend more time with students in inquiry? What kind of supports and resources will I need to differentiate, and where will I find them?"
Next time, on Flipping the Focus, we will take a look at support structures (networks/organizations) that exist to supporting teachers working through transforming their practice via Flipped Learning.
If you have any comments about this particular post or that which is forthcoming, please feel free to comment and/or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I look forward to the conversation.
Sincerely and Flippingly Yours,
Chris Stewart, OCT
Program Resource Teacher-Mathematics
Upper Canada District School Board