In most schools around the world, and at TAS, classes are indoor, closed-door, and scheduled. While many teachers have been implementing more project and discussion based activities such as Harkness Seminars into classes, it is still often hard to encourage kids to participate and really delve into the subject. Instead of simply adding a few aspects to the curriculum, a few schools around that world have completely turned the education system upside down.
Clintondale High School, rated one of the worst schools in Michigan, had its failure rate dropped from 35% to 10% and college enrollment went up from 63% to 80% after inverting its education system, and this system soon rose to fame. Greg Green, principal of Clintondale, discovered that students who watch video sport tutorials at home process the information and apply the corrections the next day during practice. Applying this to the classroom, he asked students to watch online lectures at home, and do their “homework” in class with the guidance of a teacher and the help of other classmates. The at-home video lectures include an incorporation of material from Khan Academy, Youtube, TED Talks, and teacher-recorded videos.
With this system, students came to school already prepared with knowledge they learned at home and could immediately ask teachers questions about the problems in class. No time is wasted on lectures where students may doze off. The flip of the classroom also allowed each student to learn at his own pace in a collaborative, interactive environment. Students who are too shy to ask questions during class can also easily replay the videos.
Ms. Peters, Upper School Science teacher, has been applying this system to her classroom after attending a workshop at an EARCOS (The East Asia Regional Council of Schools) conference. “When I stand up in class and lecture, you students are so polite. You nod and smile at me, but when I do projects, I realize that they didn’t understand,” she said. Over the past six years, Ms. Peters has been integrating this new teaching method and attributes part of her student’s rise in success to this system.
For Ms. Peters, the most difficult aspect of this inverted system isn’t making the video lectures for her students to watch at home–it’s coming up with activities to fill up an entire class. After years of adjusting the her teaching style, however, she has formed a curriculum that is both comfortable and effective. “It depends on the teacher’s comfort letter and how well they can design the classroom. There are some great lecturers and there’s value in all of them. Every [teacher] needs to play to their own strengths,” she said.