Aimee Shackleton, elearning and Innovation Leader at Melbourne’s Loreto Mandeville Hall Toorak, along with Steve Griffiths, a science and technology teacher at Cavendish Road State High School in Queensland and Matt Burns, ICT Coordinator at William Carey Christian School in New South Wales were chosen among only 30 faculty members across the globe. 

“Part of the international faculty’s role is to provide accredited leadership in the area of the flipped classroom, and furthermore explicitly define what the flipped classroom is and what it isn’t as well,” Burns tells Australian Teacher Magazine.

“To this end, I work with teachers nationally and internationally to help them and their schools … to flip their own classrooms, and I explore the practicalities and the benefits and the challenges and probably most importantly, the why’s and the wherefores of the strategies.”

The application program was demanding, requiring teachers to show proficiency across cultures, time zones, and disciplines.

Burns says this meant plenty of late nights and early mornings, reading, completing courses and engaging in discussions with teachers on the other side of the globe.

Griffiths says it was a challenging, but also very rewarding process. “One of the great things was about leaving your ego at the door,” he says.

“As teachers, we often like to talk and talk in front of the class, we like the sound of our own voice … leaving your ego at the door means that nobody’s idea is better than somebody else’s, but also what was really important out of that was being able to put forward ideas in a safe environment, and not take feedback personally.”

Griffiths says teachers worked in ‘tribes’ to identify a key aspect of flipped learning they were going to lead discussion on.

“That was just fantastic, to identify teachers around the world who have the same passion, have the same drive and enthusiasm, have the same challenges in their classrooms, regardless of where you are around the world, but teachers are tackling those challenges differently.”

Burns first tried flipping his classroom in 2012, while working at Inaburra School in Sydney.

He’s been hooked on the method ever since, and was hired by William Carey Christian School to promote the strategy there.

Burns says the biggest benefits coming from Flipped Learning are differentiation, and increased one-on-one time in the classroom.

His Year 5 students love his videos, for a whole range of reasons. “It’s interesting, I have a student in my class … his name is Hugo, and if he doesn’t get something and I say to him, ‘I’m free Hugo, can I teach you?’ and he goes, ‘no, I would rather watch the video’,” Burns says, laughing.

“And he likes me, we get on really well, we talk about Star Wars, we have a great relationship … but he doesn’t want me to sit down next to him and teach it to him, he likes me on the video because he can rewind me, he can pause me. On the video I’m very patient, and there’s no stigma as well.

“When the teacher sits next to someone and works with them, there’s a little bit of stigma there, with this there’s none.”

For teachers who are toying with the idea of flipping their classroom, Burns has some simple advice – just do it.

“The worst screencast is better than none at all,” he says.

“Your students don’t want perfection. They want material. And they will appreciate having you in their pocket 24 hours a day, seven days a week, at any time they want. They will appreciate being able to pause and rewind you. And they will appreciate that you made this effort.”

Griffiths says start small, and it’s important to consider how you’re going to take advantage of the classtime you’ve freed up.

“That is the most important part about flipping, how are you going to actively engage the students in deeper learning with all of this free class time that you’ve got?” he says.