Teachers are absent from school an average of 9.4 days a year (Education Next 2014) for a variety of reasons: sickness, personal days, and professional learning days. This represents 5.2% of learning time; however, these numbers can be misleading as different states report absences differently. When you add the number of days set aside for state mandated testing or other disruptions like snow days or holidays, it is no wonder that students are struggling compared to national and international norms.
Often, little meaningful learning occurs during class when the teacher is absent. As a Chemistry teacher, I especially found it hard to miss for a day, because it was very rare that a qualified Chemistry substitute teacher was available. My sub days consisted of students working on previous assignments or some sort of educational video that though science based, did little to progress student understanding of Chemistry.
Enter Flipped Learning. Instead of a day where students don’t progress in their learning, teacher absenteeism is transformed through students engaging in meaningful content-based learning. This past week I led follow up flipped-training for a group of teachers in Texas. This session was the fourth day of five that I will spend with them this year. Since this was a school day, each teacher had a substitute. I asked how many of them had utilized flipped learning principles for that day’s sub plans and all but one of them raised their hand. We then had a brief conversation about how flipping substitute days has the potential to really transform a school. They agreed that their students were getting significant learning done even though they were away from their classrooms.
I experienced this transforming reality myself when I taught. I remember one student telling me: “Mr. Bergmann, you weren’t really here, but you were here. It was kinda weird.” Students need more face-to-face time with their teacher. A short micro-video (flipped video) creates an asynchronous way for students to have contact time with their teachers while they’re away.
Now, it’s your turn. Create a flipped video for your next substitute day and see what happens.