The Rise of Private Tutoring: Why IB Teachers in Hong Kong are Making the Switch

An article by Richard James Rogers (Award-winning author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management)

This blog post has been beautifully illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati.

Accompanying podcast episode:

Private tutoring is on the rise globally, with a particular surge in Hong Kong. According to a report by Statista, the private tutoring market in Hong Kong was estimated to be worth HK$ 25 billion (US$ 3.2 billion) in 2021. The International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum is particularly popular in Hong Kong, and many teachers are switching to private tutoring. In this article, we will explore why IB teachers in Hong Kong are making the switch and the impact of this trend.

The Attraction of Private Tutoring for IB Teachers in Hong Kong

Higher Earnings

One of the main reasons why IB teachers in Hong Kong are making the switch to private tutoring is the opportunity to earn higher salaries. Private tutors in Hong Kong can charge high hourly rates, particularly for IB subjects. According to a survey conducted by Easy Sevens Education, the average hourly rate for an IB tutor in Hong Kong is HK$ 1,000 (US$ 127). This is significantly higher than the average monthly salary for an IB teacher in Hong Kong, which is around HK$ 50,000 (US$ 6,370).

Flexibility

Private tutoring also offers IB teachers in Hong Kong more flexibility in their schedules. Many private tutors can choose their own hours and locations, allowing them to fit tutoring around their other commitments. This is particularly attractive to IB teachers, who often have to work long hours and attend extra-curricular activities.

Fulfilling work

Private tutoring can be more fulfilling than teaching in a classroom setting, as tutors have the opportunity to work with students one-on-one and see the progress they make. This is particularly true for IB teachers, who are passionate about their subjects and enjoy helping students achieve their academic goals.

The Impact of the Rise of Private Tutoring on IB Education in Hong Kong

Increased Competition

The rise of private tutoring in Hong Kong has led to increased competition for IB teachers, as many are now leaving the classroom to become private tutors. This has created a shortage of IB teachers in some schools, leading to larger class sizes and increased pressure on the remaining teachers.

Pressure on students

The high cost of private tutoring has put pressure on students to perform well academically, leading to stress and anxiety. Some students may feel that they need to take private tutoring to keep up with their peers, even if they cannot afford it.

Inequality

The rise of private tutoring has also highlighted issues of inequality in Hong Kong’s education system. Students from wealthy families have more access to private tutoring, giving them an advantage over students from less privileged backgrounds. This has led to calls for greater government intervention to ensure that all students have access to high-quality education.

“A useful book for newly qualified teachers.”

Conclusion

The rise of private tutoring in Hong Kong has had a significant impact on IB education in the region. IB teachers are attracted to private tutoring due to higher earnings, flexibility, and fulfilling work. However, this trend has also created issues such as increased competition, pressure on students, and inequality. It is important for the Hong Kong government and educational institutions to address these issues to ensure that all students have access to high-quality education.

FAQs

Q1. Why is private tutoring popular in Hong Kong?

Private tutoring is popular in Hong Kong due to the high pressure on students to perform well academically, as well as the desire for more personalized learning.

Q2. What is the average hourly rate for an IB tutor in Hong Kong?

The average hourly rate for an IB tutor in Hong Kong is around HK$ 1000 (US$ 127).

Q3. Why are IB teachers in Hong Kong switching to private tutoring?

IB teachers in Hong Kong are switching to private tutoring due to higher earnings, flexibility in their schedules, and the opportunity to work more closely with students one-on-one.

Q4. What are the negative impacts of the rise of private tutoring in Hong Kong?

The rise of private tutoring in Hong Kong has led to increased competition for IB teachers, pressure on students to perform well academically, and issues of inequality in the education system.

Q5. What can be done to address the negative impacts of private tutoring in Hong Kong?

The Hong Kong government and educational institutions can address the negative impacts of private tutoring by providing greater access to high-quality education for all students, reducing pressure on students to perform well academically, and ensuring a sufficient supply of qualified IB teachers in the classroom.

Acknoweledgements

The beautiful, featured image of Hong Kong at the top of this blog post was kindly provided by David Mark from Pixabay.

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5 Reasons for Teachers to Try Out Flipped Classrooms

Flipped learning is gaining a well-earned reputation as being an effective method for intense, yet engaging, method of knowledge acquisition. The Brookings Institution, for example, describes students in the flipped classroom as viewing digitized or online material as “pre-class homework”, which they complete before they spend in-class time “engaged in active learning experiences such as discussions, peer teaching, presentations, projects, problem solving, computations, and group activities.” 

Today, I’ve invited Kiara Miller from The Speakingnerd to share her ideas on why teachers should try out flipped learning for themselves.

With the goal of improving the quality of education and students’ academic performance, many instructional methodologies have popped up. The modern world currently presents a range of innovative teaching methods that can make a difference in any classroom. Besides active learning strategies, flexible learning environments, and personalized learning, flipped classrooms are now a common instructional method worldwide.

Flipped classrooms were introduced by Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams in 2007, who were high school chemistry teachers by then. They elaborately discussed what flipped classroom is and its importance in their book: “Flip your classroom: Reach every student in every class every day (2012)”. At this juncture, we would like to explore what flipped classrooms are and some of the major reasons for teachers to try them out. 

What Flipped Classrooms Are!

A flipped classroom is a form of blended learning model where students learn about new concepts at home. They then discuss their findings with their teachers and the rest of the students in a classroom. With this teaching approach, students interact with the course material beforehand and while inside the classroom, they engage in interactive group learning activities.

Students aren’t bombarded with new material, but rather, they come with their own understanding of the concepts. That is through online videos and any other supporting content that can be text-based. It can also be provided by a teacher or students can do their own research.

With flipped classrooms, students get the chance to research topics, develop their own pace while learning at home, assess findings, and compare insights. Within a classroom, students make presentations, perform experiments, and engage in face-to-face discussions. 

This helps them share their insights and attain an in-depth understanding of the material. Due to the benefits associated with them, flipped classrooms are now a popular pedagogical approach in many educational institutions worldwide.

They cater to some degree of personalization in learning which improves learning results. But how and why should teachers try out flipped classrooms?

Reasons for Teachers to Try Out Flipped Classrooms

Flipped classrooms can be advantageous to both learners and teachers in many ways. Besides improving learning spaces, flipped classrooms are associated with the following benefits:

#1: Reduce the Pressure of Teaching 

Introducing learners to new concepts right in the classroom may not be impactful as letting students research the topics before discussing them in class. Flipped classrooms help students to attain a good level of background knowledge on a topic. They are able to leverage reflection models to assess their learning capabilities in conjunction with the learning mediums that can help them understand the material better. 

On the other hand, teachers face a range of challenges that most times impact their mental health, productivity, and lesson delivery efficacy. Introducing intricate topics to students will require a lot of time to make learners comprehend the topics effectively.

Teachers have to explain a lot to ensure that every student grasps the content. A teacher is also tasked to try out different teaching methods to help a class understand better. This reduces the amount of free class time.

However, with flipped classrooms, teachers can optimize classroom time and focus on making topics more comprehensible. For example, depending on the students’ doubts, a teacher can opt for a teaching method that solves problems effectively. For example, leverage a presentation, video, or whole class discussion. This lessens the pressure on teachers and allows them to enjoy their profession more. 

#2: Cultivates Independent Learning Skills

The traditional teaching methods heavily depend on teachers’ input. Students largely have to sit in a classroom and listen to what teachers say or observe what they are doing. However, flipped teaching mediums are the opposite. They are a reversed medium of learning and require a student to research topics, assess material and develop a personal understanding of it.

Flipped classrooms encourage independent learning. Learners take ownership of the learning process and are able to track their progress. Commonly, this instructional approach eliminates spoon-feeding which is highly noticed with the traditional learning medium. 

Rather, students are able to attain prior knowledge about a topic. Through this, they develop problem-solving skills, critical thinking capabilities, and independent learning skills. With that, they are able to become active learners who know how to apply concepts in real life.

On the other hand, this optimizes student-teacher interactions in a classroom. Teachers are able to deliver more within a single session rather than wasting a lot of time explaining a concept. 

#3: Can Improve Lesson Engagement 

One of the major challenges that modern teachers face is the increasing rate of student disengagement. It is quite difficult to keep students focused and interested in learning in the modern days. Yet, engagement is key to material comprehension and memorization.

Engagement is important for academic success and over 70% of educators agree with this. Without engagement, students become passive learners. They are hindered from grasping the material to the core or even being creative with it. 

However, introducing flipped classrooms to students can boost their morale in learning. It also instills a sense of accountability as they must produce their research in front of the class. Also, as they listen to others’ findings, they are able to competitively make suggestions.  

In the long run, this improves classroom engagement and learning experiences. On the other hand, flipped classrooms can pave the way to better classroom management. This happens with the fact that teachers are able to alter learning environments which eliminates monotony.

#4: Teachers Can Reuse Learning Material

The good thing about flipped classrooms is that teachers don’t need to keep on creating study material for the same concepts. Also, students can leverage the material they create afterward. Both teachers and students only need to make improvements in the content as per the latest findings.

Teachers can also tailor the content to learning gaps. Also, the material can be shared online and reviewed at any time. Students can also revisit the material to clarify areas they never understood properly. This can add to third-party sources such as educational apps that support personalized learning.

These possibilities optimize learning experiences and allow teachers to attain good leeway when it comes to planning and delivering lessons.

#5: Improves Academic Outcomes 

When students are tasked to study on their own, it imposes a certain level of responsibility. Flipped classrooms are a good way to help students optimize their learning period and make classroom interactions more productive. 

It should be noted that personalized learning cultivates a deeper understanding of the course material. It also improves cognitive skills, for example, analytical and critical thinking. Students are able to dimensionally analyze concepts and learn how to apply them. This helps them perform academically better.

Conclusion

It is a teacher’s responsibility to help students learn and excel academically. With this, the traditional teaching mediums are no longer effective in meeting the ever-changing learning needs. Modern students must possess innovative skills to solve problems and remain relevant in this technologically driven world. 

If you’re a teacher looking for some of the best ways to alter your classroom environment, and improve student engagement or online learning experiences, then try out flipped classrooms. They are reliable in helping students get the best out of their study time. On the other hand, they can reduce heavy workloads and optimize the limited personal time on the teachers’ side.

More so, they can help teachers manage learners’ behaviors and student excuses. Therefore, every teacher can try out flipped classrooms to modify learning environments. 

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Challenges Faced by Teachers in Diverse Classrooms

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word ‘diversity’?

Most people will come up with a variety of answers, which may include race, gender, economic background or even neurodiversity. As educators, we must first be able to recognize diversity when we see it (which isn’t always obvious), and then work to both embrace it and manage the challenges posed by it. Classrooms are becoming more and more diverse as international travel and the ability to work overseas become easier, migration increases, and neurodiversity becomes easier to diagnose. The cost of living crisis has also hit schools hard, and we are seeing more children coming to class without the tech tools that some of their more affluent peers may have, or even basic essentials such as stationary.

Today, I’ve invited Kiara Miller from The Speakingnerd to share her ideas on how teachers can respond to the unique challanges present within diverse classrooms.

This blog post has been beautifully illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati

Accompanying podcast episode:

Diversity is a growing reality of the modern world. Whether it’s in the education sector, communities, the workplace, or political realm, the age of diversity is here to stay. Diversity generally refers to the state of varying dimensions.

Diversity commonly captures the differences among people (i.e. culturally, politically, socially, and religion-wise among other aspects). Diversity also takes into consideration age, social background, ethnicity, nationality, sexual orientation, race, and belief differences among people. Like in any other area of life, diversity in education presents administrators with both opportunities and challenges.

Diversity in the classroom is an excellent avenue for teaching the immensity of the world we live in. When students are introduced to the vastness of the world we live in, they learn to embrace differences at the personal, regional, national, and global levels. They also attain better insights and skills.

Diversity in the classroom can exist due to varying intellectual abilities or learning disabilities, interpersonal or social skills, beliefs, and language differences. Diversity in educational institutions, including universities, isn’t a myth due to a range of factors like globalization, technological advancements, and scalability goals.

However, despite the fact that the world is now a global village, diversity presents a range of issues. Within classrooms, diversity cultivates several challenges for teachers, and these include the following:

#1: Complex disciplinary issues

Diversity in the classroom can cultivate a new set of disciplinary issues. Their complexity can also exacerbate due to equality and inclusion problems in the educational institution, or even the fixed-mindset nature of school leadership. Some teachers may find it difficult to manage learners of diverse backgrounds, gender, religion, and different languages.

It can significantly worsen behavioral issues and also lead to teacher burnout. In situations like this, teachers who lack emotional intelligence and professional agility may find it hard to prevent and control disciplinary issues.

Leaders, on the other hand, must check their leadership styles in order to exercise authority as per the extent of diversity. There are different leadership theories and understanding plus assessing their efficacy can help teachers manage diversity effectively. The most common disciplinary issues in a diverse classroom may be aggression, bullying, disrespect, and defiance.

In these situations, teachers need to exercise excellent overall behaviour management skills and communicate regularly with heads of phase, line managers, senior leadership, school counsellors and even parents to gather information and respond appropriately to what may turn out to be a range of evolving scenarios.

#2: Communication and language issues

With the fact that students may come from different backgrounds and nationalities, there may be a language barrier. It may be difficult for teachers to communicate with students from other regions or nations. With such communication inefficiencies, it becomes difficult for students to understand the concepts in the classroom.

It will also require a teacher to leverage creative teaching strategies that can help learners comprehend material better. On the other hand, foreign students may find it hard to communicate their needs or attain the help they need. This can trigger feelings of loneliness and depression in students.

#3: Observance of holidays

Diversity in a classroom requires a proper approach to inclusion. Failure can trigger feelings of injustice and poor conduct among students. This means that the institution must ensure they celebrate cultural and belief differences.  For example, it must recognize official public holidays like Christmas, Independence Day and others. This helps to prevent student outrage.   

#4: Teamwork and collaboration difficulties

Diversity in the classroom also impacts teamwork and collaboration. Differences among students can either help them learn how to collaborate or they can prevent them from working together. This can present complications in teaching such students as they may not be willing to interact with others in order to attain new insights. In this case, students become highly teacher dependent. In the long run, it increases pressure on the teacher’s side.

#5: Individual differences

Diversity in the classroom can increase the likelihood of individual differences. Students may fail to recognize and respect each other due to their race, culture, or ethnic orientation. Such differences can affect communication and collaboration in a classroom. It may also prevent students from conducting group assignments or collaborating during extra co-curricular activities. This can hinder progress and academic achievement.

Managing Diversity in the Classroom

Diverse classrooms require a unique art of classroom management whether at K-12, college, or vocational level. Diversity challenges are surely predicted to increase and their management may prove difficult in case educators aren’t professionally trained in this area. A lack of professional experience in managing diverse classroom environments can increase behavioral issues and also affect students’ academic performance.  

Diversity management in classrooms requires a range of guidelines to be set and followed. First and foremost, the educational institution must be open to equality and inclusion. Equality and inclusion in educational institutes are fundamental for creating a positive learning environment

Generally, an environment that can help students learn, share ideas, collaborate and cultivate quality networks is the goal. Additionally, there should be programs to help students learn the common language to improve communication. That should be emphasized before joining an educational institution or within the first few months of commencement.

Besides that, there should be no partiality or favoritism. School rules and policies must apply to all students to ensure respect for all cultures and individuals. With this, chances of disciplinary issues will be reduced and teachers will be able to manage classrooms better.

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Proactive vs. Reactive Classroom Management: 3 Simple but Powerful Tips Guaranteed to Improve Your ESL Classroom Management 

Good teaching is built upon the foundations of effective classroom management. Most teachers recognise this, and I believe that’s why my 2015 book, The Quick Guide to Classroom Management, became an award-winning bestseller within a very short timeframe. We know that order must be maintained in the classroom for deep learning to take place, but how do we maintain that order in a way that is not confrontational, or stifling, for our students?

Thankfully, we have the wise words and fresh perspective of a great expert to guide us today. I’ve invited Mitch Metzger from Destination TEFL, Bangkok, to share his top tips for using proactive and reactive classroom management strategies with our students.

This blog post has been beautifully illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati

Let’s face it, classroom management is the hardest part about teaching abroad.

Managing a classroom in ANY country is an immense challenge. It requires emotional intelligence and a deep understanding of human behavior. It involves aspects of psychology, educational pedagogy, and even philosophy.

Managing a classroom abroad means doing all of this on TOP of the fact that your students don’t speak your language!

ESL classroom management is a unique and, honestly, daunting challenge. Even with all of the right books and the best TEFL training, it can still take years to truly master managing student behavior. 

But there are simple mindset and habit changes you can make that will immediately improve your ability to manage a classroom abroad. Mastery may take years, but applying what you learn in this post can have you managing like a pro in a matter of weeks. 

ESL classroom management is a challenge, but it’s also an incredible opportunity. An opportunity to improve your EQ. An opportunity to become an expert at body language and non-verbal communication. An opportunity to learn transferable professional, personal, and leadership skills that will change your life even once you move on from the classroom.

Studies have also shown that these skills in teachers have a direct and significant impact on student achievement. At the end of the day, it’s all about our students. 

Working to change their lives is what truly changes our lives.  

So grab a notepad and pen (or, let’s be real, your phone), and let’s dive into some strategies that will put you on the path to classroom management mastery!

What is Classroom Management, actually?

Before we get into the secret sauce, it’s essential to first understand what we’re actually talking about when we say “classroom management”.

Because it’s not what most people think it is.

For many people, those words elicit memories of teachers yelling, sending kids out of the room, and otherwise strictly enforcing a set of rules “because I said so”. 

Think about it, how did most of your teachers enforce classroom rules when you were growing up? Yeah, ours too…

Unfortunately, monkey see monkey do and we’re just really smart monkeys. Many of us, myself included early on in my career, fall back on the same disciplinary tactics of our teachers. 

But that’s not what classroom management is supposed to be. At least, not great classroom management!

Great classroom management is about getting the most out of your students. Creating a safe space where they can make mistakes and try again. Developing deep bonds and trust with your students. Helping them to create a better vision for their own futures.

Most of all, it means being a true role model. We can’t expect students to do as we say and not as we do. After all, did we when we were young?

So how can we change the paradigm of classroom management? Good question, probably a bit too big to be solved in a single blog post (I smell a series). However, there is one simple shift that can make an immense difference.

Simple, but not necessarily easy.

Proactive vs. Reactive Classroom Management

Understanding (and actually creating habits around) proactive versus reactive classroom management strategies seems like a small change. However, it will forever change the way you manage your classroom, especially while teaching English abroad.

The difference is in the fundamental approach you take to potential issues in your classroom.

Reactive strategies involve solving problems that have already occurred. Disciplining “bad” behavior, what most people think of when they hear classroom management, falls into this category.

Proactive strategies are about anticipating potential problems and putting systems in place to prevent them from happening in the first place.

I like to say reactive strategies are putting out the fire. Proactive strategies are not putting a candle near the drapes.

After all, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

This is all nice in theory, but what do these different approaches look like in practice? What are some concrete strategies you can actually use in the classroom?

Reactive Classroom Management

Let’s start with reactive management behaviors. Now this isn’t necessarily “what not to do” (though some of these definitely fall into this category). Problems will inevitably arise in the classroom, and sometimes you’ll need to ‘react’.

However, these should be more of a last resort. Only leaning on these strategies, or using the wrong reactive strategies, is where problems can arise.

So, let’s look at various reactive strategies and see which might be effective and which should be left behind.

Reactive strategies to avoid

Some habits you’ll want to be careful to NOT get into include:

  • Yelling at students
  • Using shame as a discipline strategy (easier to fall into than it sounds)
  • Removing students from the classroom
  • Getting emotional or visibly frustrated
  • Not checking your biases

Expecting compliance

One thing we always train our teachers to take special note of is this: You can’t expect immediate compliance.

The truth is, respect and trust have to be earned. It doesn’t matter if the people you’re leading are 50 years old or five, you have to do the work to earn their buy-in. 

Too many teachers expect their students to immediately listen to everything they say and get distraught or upset when that doesn’t happen.

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But students are people too, and we don’t particularly like taking orders from people we barely know and trust. Right?

Effective reactive strategies

Like we said, problems in the classroom are inevitable. Occasionally you’re going to have to put out some fires (hopefully not literally), so it helps to have a good extinguisher. 

Some effective strategies include:

  • Practicing patience and empathy, even in stressful situations
  • Having a word or action that refocuses attention on you (e.g., clapping patterns, short phrases, etc.) 
  • Keeping other students busy with a task while addressing issues
  • Having a calming space in the classroom students can go to when feeling overwhelmed.
    • This is NOT a timeout. It should be a comfortable space (seating, plants, maybe even a little fountain) students want to go to, you just have to train them on when they can be there.
  • Listening to both sides of every story
  • Explaining why rules are being enforced 
  • Teaching calming breathing techniques

Adding these strategies to your teacher tool belt will help you solve problems whenever they occur.

Proactive Classroom Management

Now time for the real secret sauce! Proactive classroom management strategies will completely change your classroom when done right.

So let’s learn how to do them right!

Here are 3 simple strategies to prevent problems from arising in the first place.

#1 – Be completely prepared for EVERY class

Let’s be real, it can be tough to prepare 20+ engaging classes per week. As a teacher, it’s easy to slide into a bad habit of not fully preparing for every class.

Whether this is just teaching straight out of the book, or over-relying on worksheets from the internet, underprepared classes are the top culprit for why students misbehave in the first place. We know that young learners (and hell, even people our age) have short attention spans. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that if students aren’t engaged consistently throughout the lesson they’ll lose focus, and this inevitably leads to classroom behavior issues.

So put in the groundwork and prep your lessons.

Work to make them physically and intellectually engaging. Challenge your students. Find ways to make the material relevant to their lives. And most importantly, have all of your lessons fully resourced and ready to go.

Another pro tip here is to work on your transitions. Any ‘gap’ in the lesson is an opportunity for students to potentially misbehave, so filling those gaps ensures students don’t veer off track.

This tip isn’t really fun, because it requires a bit more work on your part. But a bit more work in the preparation will pay off immensely in the form of better lessons, stronger relationships with your students, and better mental health. After all, nothing is more taxing than an ‘out of control’ classroom.

#2 – Get to know your students

This seems like a given, but you’d be shocked (and appalled) at the number of ESL teachers who don’t even bother to learn all of their students’ names.

In their defense (kind of), I’ve had jobs where I have taught hundreds of students. It can be tough to learn that many names, let alone get to know them all.

Yet too many teachers lean on that excuse as a reason not to really get to know their students at all. They spend all of their time in the ‘teachers’ lounge’, or only interact with their students for the 55 minutes of English class each day.

The truth is, though, there is NO better classroom management strategy than strong bonds with your students. If they trust you, if they respect you, if they like you, they will listen to you.

So what can you actually do to bond with your students?

  • Get a class roster, make name cards, or employ other strategies to learn their names
  • ASK them about their interests, and talk about yours
  • Eat lunch with them or play with them at recess from time to time
  • Come to school a bit early, or do your grading at school and leave a bit late
    • This doesn’t have to be too much, maybe 15 minutes. But you can get a lot of informal facetime with your students in those quiet little moments before or after school.
  • Learn a bit of their language (and practice where they can see you!)

If you follow these simple tips you’ll be amazed at how quickly you can get to know your students!

#3 – Let the students make the rules

I know, it sounds crazy. But hear us out…

Letting your students make the rules can be a powerful technique when it comes to actually enforcing the rules. Think about it: aren’t you more likely to follow rules you come up with yourself? 

People naturally don’t like being told what to do, so if you give the students the power to decide what rules are fair then they’re much more likely to follow through.

It also makes it way easier for you to enforce the rules. Instead of saying “do this because I said so” you get to fall back on “Hey, these aren’t even my rules. YOU came up with these!”. Trust me, the latter is far superior.

Now, you’ll have to steer the conversation a bit to make sure some essential rules are hit. But this can be as easy as one or two leading questions. “Is it a good idea to talk if the teacher is talking?”

In the ESL classroom, you may also need the help of a co-teacher that speaks the students’ native language. It doesn’t take a really high level of English to make some of these rules, but if your students are at a lower level it’ll be good to have someone there to help formulate their thoughts if they don’t have the vocab for it. 

The final proactive management tip

To wrap things up, I want to leave you with one more proactive tip.

Take care of YOURSELF! 

Yes, proper self-care and work life balance is absolutely essential for classroom management. If you’re overwhelmed or burnt out, it will inevitably impact your students. Energy is contagious, and as the leader you are the conduit for the classes’ energy. This makes it important to learn to control your own energy.

So meditate, journal, go for walks, do yoga, eat healthy, travel on the weekends, pursue hobbies that interest you. Set up good, sustainable systems for work life balance. Grow in areas you feel are important for your life. The best teachers by FAR are happy teachers (not an opinion, studies show this to be true), so be sure to do things that make you happy.

If you do that, then teaching itself will become one of those things!

We welcome you to join the Richard James Rogers online community. Like our Facebook page, follow us on Instagram and check out our Twitter feed for the latest news, blog posts and commentary.

Why is Coding Important for School Students to Learn?

richardjamesrogers.com is the official blog of Richard James Rogers: high school Science teacher and award-winning author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management: 45 Secrets That All High School Teachers Need to Know. 

This blog post has been beautifully illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati.

Accompanying podcast episode:

As a teacher or a parent, you’ll likely have an interest in the subjects that children are learning in school, especially newer subjects like computer literacy, robotics, coding, or even game development. And while some parents and teachers might be worried that children already spend too much time on tablets, mobile phones or laptop computers as it is, the good news is that all of these subjects are likely to enhance the learning of more traditional curriculum areas, such as mathematics and English.

Coding, in particular, is quickly becoming a key skill that school students must achieve basic competency in before they graduate. In August last year, for example, former President Uhuru Kenyatta presided over the nationwide rollout of Kenya’s first ever coding curriculum in primary and secondary schools. This made Kenya the first African nation to create an official coding syllabus to be delivered in schools.

Today, I’ve invited Kat Sarmiento (content writer at Katreena’s Content Studio) to share her thoughts on why coding is such an important subject for students to learn.

Kat Sarmiento

In this digital age, when technological advancement continues to transform our lives, learning coding is crucial, especially for school students. Because if you think about it, the apps and websites children use all run on code. Thus, it’s vital for them to learn and understand the basics of coding to make the most out of the apps and websites they visit and utilize.

Image source: Pexels

As you may be aware, in the current curriculum, students in classes 11 and 12 are taught fundamental programming languages, such as C, C++, Foxpro, and more, while sixth-grade students and up learn computer basics. And as online education came to light, more and more students eagerly took online tuition coding classes to test various programming languages.

Given this situation, education professionals must also understand that teaching coding is as important as teaching sustainability at school. It offers numerous benefits for your students – from academic excellence to better career opportunities. To explain it further, we’ve listed down the reasons why coding is essential for students. Let’s get started.

#1: Coding improves critical thinking skills 

One of the many reasons why learning coding is important is that it can help students improve their critical thinking skills. A 2014 study actually demonstrates that the five brain areas associated with language processing, working memory, and attention are activated when people work with source code. Because besides memorizing various programming languages, students will also need to understand how to use them correctly. But to do that, it will require them to think differently. 

Dealing with codes requires you to break down problems into smaller and more manageable pieces to understand what happens next. This strategic problem-solving technique is called computational thinking. Coders must examine the data, assess the situation, and decide which course of action will help them achieve their objectives.

In light of this, students who learn how to code can improve their problem-solving/critical-thinking skills by figuring out the best solution to a problem at hand.

#2: Coding boosts creativity

Aside from honing problem-solving skills, coding also fosters the creativity of students. It gives them the opportunity to express themselves, experiment, and be creative. They can design websites, apps, or games in a fun and exciting way.

“But how does coding help with creativity?“, you may ask.

Well, while you learn various programming languages and techniques to create various programs, you always need to start building from scratch. For instance, when students are tasked to make an animated object, they have to think about what it should look like and how it can be presented on the screen. This is when they need to use their creativity and problem-solving skills to achieve what they picture.

#3: Coding teaches patience and persistence

Learning how to code is similar to how we learn a language. The only difference is we use programming languages to communicate with the computer. So, typically, we start by memorizing the alphabet, some words, and phrases before we begin creating sentences for use in conversations. And, of course, we will inevitably make mistakes along the way. It’s the same scenario in coding.

As you might already know, coding is complex and can be frustrating. But it teaches us patience and perseverance. Because to be successful, one must be able to experience failure and bounce back from it. It will take some testing and troubleshooting before the codes work effectively.

Students can use this process of trial and error to their advantage as they go through life, helping them to understand that perseverance is often necessary to find solutions to many difficulties.

#4: Coding improves communication and teamwork

Coding also teaches two of the best things students can use when they enter the real world: communication and teamwork. Most of the time, teachers assign students to work in groups when developing projects. That requires them to communicate with one another and make collaborative efforts for a successful program. But, even if they’re working on individual projects, they can still seek feedback from their classmates. Thus, by teaching coding to students, they’ll develop their communication skills and learn the importance of teamwork.

#5: Coding creates career opportunities

Finally, learning to code opens up many career opportunities. Considering how technology continuously advances as time passes by, coding is an extremely useful skill to possess. Computer programmers, web developers, and other IT jobs are now in demand because of the increasing number of businesses relying on code. And it’s not just those in the technology sector, but also those in finance, retail, health, and other industries.

If people learn to code at a young age, they’ll have the advantage of having better career opportunities in the future. Not to mention that the salary can be at a high level for those qualified, talented, and experienced IT people. 

The bottom line

There are many reasons why coding is important for school students to learn. Besides learning how to build websites and apps, they also learn valuable skills and lessons they can use in the real world. Not to mention that you’re also bringing them numerous career opportunities in this ever-growing digital world. And if they grow interested in developing more advanced and amazing software, they also contribute to our future.

Kat Sarmiento

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Tina’s Top Tips for Effective Classroom Management

Accompanying podcast episode:

The best definition I have found for what Classroom Management’ actually means comes from Carol Weinstein and Nancy Schafer at Oxford Bibliographies:

Classroom management can be defined as the actions teachers take to establish and sustain an environment that fosters students’ academic achievement as well as their social, emotional, and moral growth. In other words, the goal of classroom management is not order for order’s sake, but order for the sake of learning.

When order breaks down in the classroom, student learning is affected and teachers’ stress levels, burnout and anxiety rise – which sometimes leads to teachers making the decision to leave the profession (McCarthy et. al., 2022). It is therefore in every teacher’s best interest to master the fundamental techniques of effective classroom management.

Today, I have invited Tina Hennessy, Head Trainer at Destination TEFL‘s Siem Reap centre in Cambodia, to share her top tips for teachers who want to improve their classroom management skills.

I’m not sure if what they say about classroom presence is true or not – either you’ve got it or you don’t! If you do, it’s likely that you won’t have too many problems with classroom management, because more than half the battle is won just by your presence in the classroom. Students look up to you, and you have complete control over the class because you demand high standards from them.

If you need help, here are five tips that may assist with classroom management. As with most ailments: prevention is better than cure. Once you’ve lost their attention, it’s harder to rein them back in. 

Here’s how you could prevent problems from cropping up: 

  1. Be prepared: Being prepared for your lesson shows in your body language and this reflects in your delivery of lessons, conversely being under-prepared shows too! A good plan, a complete set of resources (from working whiteboard markers and flashcards, to crib notes) – anything you need should be organised and ready for use, without you having to worry about them. As you segue from one stage to the next, your students shouldn’t have time for distractions. If, however, your transitions lead to dead time (time with your back to the class), you’re likely to have bored students who will find something else to do.
  2. Use students’ names: calling out their names ensures they’ll do what they need to do, to not be “called out” for negative reasons. Rather than pointing and saying, “You at the back, please be seated”. (‘YOU’ will probably turn his/her head and pretend to look at another student and pretend they’re not at fault.) Using their names will leave no room for doubt. Learning their names also shows that you care, and knowing that their teacher cares, will give them more reason to stay engaged.
  3. Limit distractions: This could mean anything from distractions on a student’s desk, to visuals in a classroom, to views outside the classroom, to sounds. Try to limit whatever is within your control. Establish classroom routines where students start the class with cleared desks – or have only what is required on their desks – no extra books, stationary, or even water bottles. If your students have phones, request them to turn OFF vibrate mode, or put their phones inside their bags, rather than in their pockets.
  4. Use non-verbal hand signals: Avoid students calling out aloud to request permission to use the toilet, for example, by having a hand signal for the same. Design similar signals for other circumstances too. When the student gets your attention by doing the signal, a simple nod of your head will grant permission. Rather than him asking you a question and having you answer it – thereby distracting the entire class and possibly diverting your train of thought. 
  5. Call and response: We know all too well that even at the best of times, you’re going to have situations when you’ve lost their attention, the class is loud and they’re bouncing off the walls and you do actually need to try and rein them in! Here are my favourites: 
    • T (teacher): “Yo! Yo! Yo!” Ss (students): “Yo! What’s up!” (Great for middle-schoolers.)
    • T: “1-2-3” Ss: “Eyes on me” T: “1,2” Ss: “Eyes on you

Start the chant and continue till the whole class is responding. The first few times you do this, maybe some students won’t join in. Carry on – even if it means you’ve said it 8-10 times, and the rest of the students will egg on the “stragglers”. 

And, finally, when all else fails, and your voice won’t work – stand still and silent with your right hand raised over your head. As you make eye contact with the students they must raise their right hand, stop doing whatever they’re doing and stop speaking. They make eye contact with the others who must in turn do the same. Think of this as the opposite of a flash mob. Once the entire gathering is quiet, you have their undivided attention.

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A Teacher’s Christmas Holiday

An article by Richard James Rogers (Award-Winning Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback).

Illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati 

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Originally posted December 2017. Updated December 2022.

The Christmas vacation is finally here. Many of us in the teaching profession can now look forward to a good couple of weeks of much-needed rest and recuperation. 

Our students deserve a break too.

jenga

I agree that time spent with family and friends is an absolute essential right now, but I’m also mindful of the workload and duties that will hit me like a tornado when I return to school in January.

When it comes to school holidays, I always see them as time to ‘go at my own pace’. The way I see it, I have two choices:

  1. Do nothing for the whole holiday and totally chill out, returning to the normal barrage of work that hits every teacher at the start of Term 2
  2. Still have a holiday and some rest but do some little things to get a head-start on things before I return to school

I’ve always found that trying to do option 2 is the best, even if I don’t get through all of the ‘head-start’ work that I plan to do.

Is this an admission of failure before I even begin? Maybe, but here are my plans made as realistic as possible: meaning that I can have a rest and do around 50% (minimum) of these things too:

  • Requisitions and orders: I’m a Science Teacher, so I need to order chemicals and equipment for my lessons each week. This Christmas my first priority will be to get all of my requisitions done for each week of Term 2, ahead of time. This will save me many a long night when I get back to school, and will help me to plan ahead and reinforce my long-term curriculum mapping.
  • Termly review: Every Christmas I make it a priority to evaluate where I am at now, and where I want to be with my classes by the end of the term. This kind of self-analysis allows me to see where I’m behind and where I’m ahead and how to address those issues. This is really important for final-level exam classes as they must have covered the whole syllabus and have revised by the time the terminal exams come along. 
  • Getting back to gym: I’ve been slacking off lately (I said this back in 2017 too!). No excuses this time. I’ve got every day free for a few weeks so I’ll be up early and out for a jog before hitting the weights later in the day.
  • Responding to student e-mails: Some students in my exam classes will be e-mailing me with questions about past-papers, coursework and subject-specific stuff. If I can help, then I will help. However, if not urgent, then I will deal with these queries when I am back at school.
  • Clothes: I’m running out of a few things (such as shirts that actually fit me!). Time for a wardrobe mini-makeover so that I continue to look half-decent at work.
  • Writing my next book: My first book was quite well-received, as was my second (The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback) so I’ve decided to have a go at writing another.  Ten Techniques Every Teacher Needs to Know will explore the themes of classroom management and assessment to inform learning in even greater depth and breadth than my first book, and will build upon the fundamentals covered in one of my most popular blog posts. I see this as ‘downtime’ for me because I really love writing. Can I count this as ‘relaxation’?
  • Going back to karate: Another thing I’ve been putting off. Time to get a regular schedule set up.
  • Contacting people I should have contacted ages ago. Chasing up old leads and projects that I’ve allowed to slip.

on the bike

Of course, as well as all of this I plan to enjoy my freedom in Thailand as much as possible. A trip to Pak Chong (where The Big Boss was filmed), along with my long-awaited visit to the Death Railway in Kanchanaburi (still haven’t done that yet – it needs to go on the list!).

How will you use your free-time this Christmas? Is it all one-big holiday or can you think of some small ways to make your life easier when you get back to school?

Happy New Year from richardjamesrogers.com

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The Truth About Teacher Talking Time (TTT)

An article by Richard James Rogers (Award-winning author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management)

Illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati.

An unfortunate stigma has been attached to Teacher Talking Time (TTT) in recent years. A common misconception is that the more a teacher talks, the less effective their lesson will be. This is simply not true. Teachers MUST talk to their students during lessons – for many and varied reasons. In today’s blog post I will describe the best ways to make use of Teacher Talking Time within the classroom. 

Accompanying Podcast Episode:

The official consensus

Unfortunately, the official advice published by much of world’s most respected educationalists is misleading at best, and downright inaccurate at worst. Just take a look at these examples:

  • TTT often means that the teacher is giving the students information that they could be finding out for themselves, such as grammar rules, the meanings of vocabulary items and corrections. Teacher explanations alone are often tedious, full of terminology and difficult to follow. There may be no indication of whether the students have understood.” – British Council
  • “Some EFL/ESL researchers say that students should speak for 70% of the lesson. Teachers should speak for 30% of the time. Of course, some lessons may require longer explanations on the part of the teacher. Or other lessons may only require a minimal amount of explanation, and 90% or more may be devoted to conversational activities. But this 70/30 figure works well as a goal in most classroom situations.”Kostadinovska-Stojchevska et. al, International Journal of Applied Language and Cultural Studies

The majority of the research on TTT has been carried out in English teaching/EFL/EAL settings – yet the conclusions derived are overwhelmingly extrapolated to other subject areas. This, in my opinion, presents everyday teachers with a double-edged sword: bad conclusions to begin with, applied to subject areas beyond the scope of the available research.

Teachers MUST talk to students

Let’s address the British Council’s statement on TTT first – that TTT replaces student-led inquiry all too often, and that teacher-explanations can be tedious, and that there may be no indication of whether the students have understood the content.

This simply isn’t true for most teachers. We are not robots that deliver monotonic talks from lecterns. We use voice inflections, quick-fire questioning, repetition of key words, movement and mannerisms and we are vigilant in checking that students have understood content along the way by providing directed tasks, such as worksheets, learning games and live quizzes.

Let’s also address the student-led research point the British Council makes. Project work, group explorations and directed investigations that encourage students to discover content for themselves work well for low stakes classes that have moderate, or simple content to get through in a large amount of time. Problems arise, however, when teachers try to do these exploration/student-led discovery tasks on a regular basis with advanced-level students who have massive amounts of content to get through in a limited amount of time. Such teachers often find that they fall behind schedule, because such tasks take up large amounts of time, and that students pick up big misconceptions and incomplete knowledge along the way. This time could be better spent on teacher-directed tasks, such as slide presentations, focussed explanations using the smartboard and past-exam papers, that offer clarity in a timely manner.

The 70/30 rule proposed by Kostadinovska-Stojchevska et. al. is also impractical in most subject areas, most of the time. Just think about all of the reasons why teachers may need to talk within a lesson:

  • To welcome students into class and begin starter activities, or to provide initial instructions – e.g. “Good morning, Year 10. Please take your seats and please log on to Google Classroom”
  • To offer verbal feedback in real-time via the live-marking process
  • To praise and encourage students
  • To provide instructions for project work, such as experiments, practical work, model building, group creation tasks, homework, etc.
  • To prompt students in real-time as we’re walking around the room – e.g. “Joshua, don’t forget to underline the title”, “Marisa, please highlight the key equation”, etc.
  • To explain things – e.g. by writing out worked solutions on the whiteboard/smartboard and describing the rationale for each step of the process
  • To sanction students and have those necessary one-to-one conversations, and to use effective behaviour management techniques (such as building rapport and using questioning to bring students back on task)
  • To direct and manage spatial learning tasks
  • To teach! (I know, what a shock!). We need to talk when describing, explaining, comparing and evaluating the content that the students need to learn for their tests and assessments (especially for advanced-level students).

As we can see from this list (and I’m sure there are more examples that you can think of), teachers need to talk A LOT during every lesson they deliver. In fact, one could really push some buttons within educational circles by stating an obvious truth – that effective lessons actually involve lots of TTT, as opposed just to the small amount we have been led to believe.

Conclusion

A shift in focus needs to happen within the teaching profession – from TTT to variety of tasks delivered in lessons. All too often, lesson observers cite excessive TTT as a weakness when, in actuality, lack of variety may have been a factor in lowering the effectiveness of a lesson.

TTT in-and-of itself is not detrimental to learning: it’s the ways in which we use our TTT that matter.

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How to Teach Sustainability to School Students

Teenagers and young people really can be the agents of change the world needs when it comes to sustainability. Fortune Magazine, for example, recently told the story of how global giant UPS was started by two teenagers and a bike back in 1907, and how the company went back to being eco-friendly with its e-bike delivery service in Hamburg back in 2012 (a service which has now expanded to many more cities). Today, I’ve invited Claire Maguire from online student magazine, The Day, to describe some great ways in which teachers can teach sustainability to their students.

Accompanying podcast episode:

How do we teach sustainability to school students?

World news is dominated by reports of extreme flooding, droughts, forest fires and severe storms. It can seem overwhelming for young people; the generation who will increasingly shoulder responsibility for tackling climate change. 

What can educators do to empower young people to take positive action?

With more global sustainability events happening around the world every day, it’s the perfect time to bring students into the conversation

Whether it’s discussing world events such as COP27 or confidently tackling conversations around climate disasters such as floods and fires, there’s no rulebook on how to teach sustainability to school students. But there are a number of approaches that can be effective to really engage young people to take positive action.

The complexities and political implications of sustainability can make it a challenging topic to teach. By following this guide, we hope sustainability can be accessible for your classroom, and you can confidently learn how to teach sustainability to school students in a way that inspires and empowers your class to really engage with these critical issues.

Fortunately, there are so many resources out there to help you tackle these topics. 

Online newspaper for schools, The Day, has a team of journalists covering the big issues behind the headlines in climate change in a child-friendly way that aids healthy debate and discussion in the classroom. For example, The Day’s free Build the Change resource, developed in collaboration with the LEGO Group, focuses on a sustainability news topic every week and challenges pupils to come up with creative solutions to environmental issues.

Keep it relevant

Students are much more likely to pay attention if something affects them directly, or it’s something they’ve heard about already. By using the news as a guide, it can transform conversations that might take place at the dinner table or on the bus into a learning experience. From discussions about veganism to debates on electric cars, by honing in on current issues, students are more likely to engage with topics that affect their everyday lives. As sustainability is so broad and intricate, by focusing on specific issues, it can be easier to teach and to digest as a student. 

By using the news as a starting point, real-world events become an opportunity for learning. It might be learning that the eighth billionth person will be born and thinking about if the world can cope with the volume of people that really gets your class thinking. Or it might be discovering Sir David Attenborough receiving a knighthood for his sustainability efforts that engages a child who is particularly fond of the English broadcaster and biologist. 

Let them have an opinion

Young people are going to be the most affected by the impact of sustainability issues. Encouraging them to form their own point of view on different issues is the best way to really ignite a passion for sustainability.

With the “you decide” feature of the Build the Change resources, students are posed with a thought-provoking question and an option to agree or disagree with the statement.

As sustainability issues are highly debated anyway, it offers the chance for students to work out where they stand on key issues affecting our planet.

Is climate change history repeating itself? Can children save the world? Can the planet cope with 8 billion people? Presenting students with questions like these is a great way to teach sustainability to school students as it allows them to think beyond the news and really analyse the facts, evidence and information in front of them.

You can set up a whole class debate or put students into groups to challenge each other’s way of thinking, and see if they can form a judgement on the topic.

Slot sustainability into the school day

83.1% of educators wish sustainability issues were more broadly implemented across the curriculum*. Time is a luxury most teachers don’t have, and with a jam-packed curriculum having to take priority, sustainability education tends to have to take a backseat.

Yet 45.4% of educators believe sustainability education is very important, and if we want to help students become agents of change, we need to give them the tools to make a difference.

When sustainability lends itself naturally to different subjects across the curriculum, it can be threaded through different lessons over the course of the day. For example, you might learn about passive houses in a science lesson, or rising sea levels might be a conversation topic in a geography class.

The Build the Change weekly resources cover sustainability from a range of angles and allow you to pick and choose activities. This means it can be incorporated into lessons or the school day whenever makes the most sense. You might decide to weave this Build the Change resource on how smart computers can save forests into a technology lesson, or get your science class fascinated by the idea of lab-grown hamburgers. Yet it can also fit nicely into short pockets of the day, with short bursts of activity suited to form time or after lunch.

Source ready-to-go resources

We know lesson planning can be the bane of educators’ lives. Sustainability is a huge topic that young people have lots of questions on, so planning lessons can be time-consuming. But there are a whole host of engaging sustainability resources out there that you can simply get up on the interactive whiteboard or print off and use with your class.

The Build the Change Tuesday worksheets are free, no-prep, no-fuss resources written by journalists and educators that can be used instantly to bring children up to speed on sustainability issues and enable them to voice their opinions. Members of The Day can also receive other climate resources as part of their subscription, from whether economic growth is preventing us from meeting climate targets to whether the world has done enough to prevent climate change. 

Think practical and simple

Inspiring the next generation of changemakers starts by getting them to think about how they would tackle these issues. That doesn’t mean students need to solve global warming, but they can begin to explore solutions and ways of living that cause less harm to the planet, such as creating a habitat for endangered animals to survive.

The aim is to engage young people in the issues and inspire them to feel they can make a difference. By giving them practical design, problem-solving or creative challenges to address sustainability issues, they can begin to feel empowered.

Every Build the Change Tuesday article features a hands-on Build the Change challenge related to the news story. For example, an article about rising sea levels inspires students to think about how humans might one day live underwater and challenges them to build an underwater habitat using craft materials or LEGO® bricks. These ideas can be shown to real-life sustainability figures by entering the LEGO competition, where a photograph of students’ ideas just needs to be submitted to the gallery. You can download this pack to find out more. 

Empowering your students

When you’re thinking about how to teach sustainability to school students, the most important thing to remember is that you’re preparing them to make a real difference. 

Igniting a passion for sustainability where they understand the impact of human actions and genuinely want to make a difference is the best way to give students the tools to become agents of change. How does what they read in the news affect their local community, their home life, or their school?

Put learning into practice

When you’re thinking about how to teach sustainability to school students, think about your school. How sustainable is it? How can you make it more eco-friendly?

Giving students projects that can enable a change right away is a fantastic way to put their passion for sustainability into practice.

Could they create a rooftop nature garden on the school grounds? Or think of ways their school building could be more eco-friendly? 

You can use students’ ideas to put real-life projects to improve your school’s sustainability by entering The Day’s competition with the LEGO Group. Winning entries can win £2,000 for their school to put towards these projects and take the next step in sustainability. 

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How Can Flipped Learning Be Used in the High School Classroom?

An article by Richard James Rogers (Award-Winning Author of The Quick Guide to Classroom Management and The Power of Praise: Empowering Students Through Positive Feedback).

Illustrated by Pop Sutthiya Lertyongphati.

Accompanying podcast episode:

The phrase ‘Flipped Learning’ means exactly what it implies: things are flipped.

For instance:

  • Homework is done prior to a topic introduction, rather than after it. Children are assigned some reading or research to do prior to a lesson and they then bring questions to class which can be used in follow-up activities.
  • Pace of learning is more student-controlled, rather than teacher-controlled

Flipped Learning was first conceived as a pedagogical technique in 2007 by Jonathan Bergman and Aaron Sams who set out to answer a big question: What is the best way to use face-to-face class time? The answer they came up with, in essence, was that students should be involved in some well-designed discovery tasks at home/outside the lesson prior to deeper exploration (in which the content they’ve learned is reinforced, related and extended) in the classroom.

One reason why Flipped Learning has gained extra traction in the past five years especially is that it has been demonstrated to enhance metacognition, if used periodically.

Putting theory into practice

Most teachers have a good understanding of what Flipped Learning is as a theoretical concept, but difficulties arise when the time comes to apply the theory to a real lesson.

Is it really just as simple as getting the kids to read-ahead?

In today’s blog post I aim to aim to answer that question (the short answer is no, by the way). I will also describe some practical, actionable ways in which Flipped Learning can be utilized across subject areas.

One little warning I’d like to make about Flipped Learning before I start is that I do not believe that it should be used every single lesson – that would overload the students with too much independent study (especially if they are in lower secondary school or below). However, regular Flipped Learning (e.g. on a bi-weekly basis) can be a great way to facilitate deep learning in your subject (as opposed to just surface learning).

The 6 Steps of Flipped Learning

I cannot take the credit for creating or even describing the six steps you’re about to read – that goes to this excellent web page by Michigan State University. What I will do, however, is give my own spin on the steps as you read them. Enjoy!

  1. Plan your lesson – an obvious first step, but make sure you’ve thought about learning outcomes and the resources you will use. See this separate blog post of mine about the planning process.
  2. Record or supply a video – videos seem to be a kind of cornerstone of the Flipped Classroom/Learning model. In my opinion, it’s not always necessary to to actually make a video yourself – you may be able to find something perfect that’s been made already on sites like Vimeo and YouTube.
  3. Share the video with your students. Make it clear that the video will be discussed and utilized in class, so it might be a good idea to make a few notes on it.
  4. Change: Leave the video behind. We’re not watching that again. Now the students have to use what they’ve learned from the video in some kind of deep learning activity.
  5. Group the students and do some kind of activity that allows greater exploration. Ideas are given below.
  6. Regroup – get the students to present their individual group work to the whole class in some way. This could be a Google Slides presentation, a drama/acting session, an infographic, etc.

Once all of these steps are complete, reinforce the content with review tasks, revision and repetition.

Collaboration Activities suitable for the Flipped Classroom

Put the students into groups (before the pre-reading, videos, simulations or other prep work, if possible) and when the students come back to class get them to create something from the information they’ve already researched. This creative process will naturally involve further exploration. Consider these activities (and let the students choose what they would like to do, if possible):

  • Podcasting/recording an audio clip: Once the sound file has been created, the students can then send that to the teacher in any way that seems appropriate – via e-mail, Google Classroom, uploading to YouTube (which requires another process that the students will have to learn), etc. This blog post describes some steps students should take to create the audio file.

  • Groups create a short lesson that contains some kind of practical element: Interestingly, some research shows that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach the topic that you have to learn. So, quite simply, ask your groups of students to prepare a lesson which they must teach to the whole class. To spice things up, the students could build a model, demonstrate an experiment, pass objects around the class or do anything that stimulates touch, smell, and, maybe, taste.
  • Groups create a quiz: Quizzes can be a really fun way to test student knowledge, and when done via a group-creation project they can be much less stressful for students than traditional testing. Furthermore, there are a number of great, free multiple choice and graphic quiz creation tools available on the web, such as Kahoot!, Quizlet, Blooket, Quizizz and Wordwall. Perhaps each group could be given a different quiz app to use, or perhaps each group could choose two or more platforms to create several quizzes for the class to complete.
  • Groups create models from everyday materials: Get your students to build things. Materials like plastic bottles, bottlecaps, cardboard, coloured paper, plasticine/modelling clay, straws, shoeboxes, egg cartons and even old rope/string can all be used creatively by students to make models of the concepts they are studying. I’ve used this technique across my teaching in Science to get students to create everything from atomic models to figurines of predators and prey in Biology. Furthermore, this is a great way to reinforce ideas about sustainability, reducing single-use plastic and recycling.

These are just some ideas you may wish to consider (and they happen to be some of my favourite ones!). For a more comprehensive list of group activities you can use, with detailed descriptions, please see this blog post I wrote on the subject.

Other Activities Suitable for the Flipped Classroom

  • Class debate – this is perfect when there are polar opposites to discuss (e.g. ‘For’ and ‘Against’) or two different ways of solving a problem (e.g. factorisation or the quadratic formula in maths). Just make sure that every team member has a role to play in the debate. Get as many students talking as possible (this is so crucial in these post-pandemic years).
  • Peer instruction – Get groups to teach each other, especially when each group has explored something slightly different.
  • Get your students to implement some spatial learning activities, such as the ones listed here. These are great for getting your students moving and grooving!

Recommended further reading

Ojjeh, D. (2020) ‘How to implement flipped learning in 2021’, Royal Society of Chemistry. Available at https://edu.rsc.org/ideas/how-to-implement-flipped-learning-in-2021/4012120.article

Michigan State University. ‘What, Why and How to Implement a Flipped Classroom Model’. Available at https://omerad.msu.edu/teaching/teaching-skills-strategies/27-teaching/162-what-why-and-how-to-implement-a-flipped-classroom-model

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