Learning cultures have no doubt shifted for students in most K-12 public schools. With new one-to-one initiatives, blended learning, online courses, project-based learning, one could argue that students are now more prepared than ever before for the 21st century. But what about teachers?

How are teachers learning to operate as professionals in the 21st century? Most teachers rely on traditional professional development methods like guidebooks on curriculum implementation or face-to-face. lecture-style settings, the gist of which is “Tell me something and maybe I will do it.” Other teachers, though, strive for more dynamic personalized learning opportunities (like the ones our students receive). So, how is it that we are preparing our students for the 21st century with a sense of urgency, but when it comes to quality learning for teachers, many school districts do not practice what they preach?

There are many theories of why we use words like collaboration, creativity, and communication with students, but we judge and evaluate our teachers with words like individual assessments, standards, and individual accountability. Maybe it is the fault of a “system” that places high expectations for teachers to teach 21st-century skills, but only be evaluated on 20th-century learning outcomes.

The reality is that when teachers move away from the front of the classroom and hand some of the control of the learning process over to students, students become more active learners. The process of learning moves to the forefront, and the act of obtaining points or scores takes on a lesser role. The more teachers interact with students individually, the more informal, formative assessment can take place. Also, struggles that can lead to students simply giving up on their homework can be diagnosed and corrected by the teacher, allowing the student to progress in his work and ensuring understanding of the material.

In a flipped class, the first benefit comes in the recovery of class time. We recognize this to be true for our students, so how can we apply this same principle to professional development?

Next page: The platform that flips PD

About the Author:

Aaron Sams has been an educator since 2000. He operates the education consulting firm Sams Learning Designs, is an Adjunct Professor at Saint Vincent College, and serves as an advisor to TED-Ed. In 2009 he was awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Math and Science Teaching while teaching Chemistry in Woodland Park, CO, and serving as co-chair of the Colorado State Science Standards Revision Committee. Aaron has co-authored seven books on the flipped classroom concept. You can follow him on Twitter @ChemicalSams.

Justin Aglio is the Director of Innovation at Montour School District in Pennsylvania. Recently, he was mentioned as a 2016 “Edtech and Elearning Top 100 Influencer” by Onalytica. He was honored by the Pennsylvania Association for Educational Communications and Technology as the 2014 Outstanding Leader of the Year. In 2013, ISTE named him as an Emerging Leader. He was one of three featured principals in the book Best Practices of Literacy Leaders: Keys to School Improvement. Justin is a board member of The Flipped Learning Network, an advisor for the Carnegie Science Center, a member of the Remake Learning Network, and co-organizer of EdCampPGH. You can follow him on Twitter @JustinAglio.