Can You Flip Faculty Development?

Dr. Benjamin Washington
Dr. Benjamin Washington
High school assistant principal; Ed.D. in Educational Leadership
Group of professionals sitting in a circle with two people presenting in front.

Faculty development is a vital part of growing individuals and creating a sustainable and continuously improving environment. This is true whether the faculty consist of teachers in a school building, professors and administrators of higher education institutions, or members of an educational non-profit. Professional development (PD) and training fosters growth in the area of professional practices. Effective faculty development can lead to reflective practice, increased positive student outcomes, and a deeper understanding of organizational goals.

What is Faculty Development?

In order to understand the impact faculty development has on members of an organization it is important to know what faculty development is. Faculty development is the process of providing education, professional development, and coaching to faculty members to improve their work performance. This happens by providing feedback to staff, giving faculty members access to and optimizing PD, and relevant training. Teachers’ insights have revealed that best practices in PD have a focus on content knowledge, a collaborative environment, and an active and ongoing learning community. The insights of teachers and their own professional development mirror the facilitation of faculty development.

The contemporary teacher integrates technology into instruction, is a practitioner of differentiated instruction, and an ongoing student of diversity and inclusion to enhance the learning of all students. A flipped classroom is a way for instructors to engage students outside the brick and mortar school and also gives students the opportunity to think critically and have effective conversations and collaboration when back in the classroom. Recently, the flipped classroom format has allowed for students to watch videos or listen to lessons at home and engage in conversations and applications of the lessons in the classroom. When teachers talk about a flipped classroom to engage students, the same outcomes are true for flipped faculty development.

What are the Advantages of Flipping Faculty Development?

For an organization to provide training and coaching to different types of employees and in various departments can be a challenge. Utilizing the flipped faculty meeting allows for differentiated professional development for teachers and other faculty members to prioritize their learning time. Furthermore, it allows the administrator to prepare information and facilitate meetings in an effective and well-planned manner.

The advantages of the flipped faculty development include delivery of information written or by video in an online format, creation of an avenue for research, and the maximization of in-person time and discussions. With flipped faculty development information is able to be sent across a broad platform and be concise with the delivery. Another advantage of flipped faculty development is showcasing the different forms of communication and digital tools that are used to provide messages or video content.

Strategies for Implementing Flipped Faculty

Plan and Prepare

Flipping faculty development entails planning and preparation for effective delivery of information and purposeful discussions. Once a presenter such as a principal, director, or instructional coach, knows the goals of the meeting or agenda then the preparation process can begin. One example of this would be if a principal has received a directive from district office personnel to inform staff of parent choice in virtual learning or a hybrid instructional format.

The principal could create and send a five-minute video describing both formats for instruction or send an email with an infographic comparing hybrid and virtual learning models. The information would be sent to staff in the days or a week before the face-to-face meeting. Subsequently, the principal will follow up with communication to the staff on the expectation to discuss and brainstorm what teachers need to facilitate instruction with these two educational vehicles.

This pre-planning allows for staff to learn and explore the materials related to the topic of instructional delivery. At the face-to-face faculty development meeting, the principal and administration team can guide the discussions and facilitate collaborative work towards implementing instruction based on parent and student needs.

Use Digital Tools

In order to deliver content for the organization to explore, there must be an understanding of different digital tools. Effective delivery of information can come from a YouTube video, information shared via Google Docs, or Piktochart. Oftentimes a quick email with talking points can be sent to staff so faculty members will have the agenda and talking points ahead of time. Once the staff is together, teachers can ask questions for clarity and discuss ways to improve the specific initiative. Using digital tools can also be great for gathering feedback on meetings and PD for others. One web tool that can be used is Surveymonkey.com to gather data and feedback on the meeting. For those who enjoy more qualitative data, Focusgroupit.com is a great website also.

Maximize In-Person Time

When flipping faculty development, it is important to remember to maximize in-person time. The face-to-face interactions are a crucial time to let personalized learning and collaboration facilitate the agenda. Maximizing in-person time comes from knowing the audience and having the ability to implement a clear agenda and set of goals.

An audience of veteran teachers may not need faculty development on classroom management or Bloom’s Taxonomy, but are more likely to benefit from faculty development on COVID-19 safety procedures or how to link online instructional materials to their personal Schoology website or a Google Drive. Educational technology in education continues to change by the year and still is adaptive to the needs of students and educators. Understanding the needs of the audience helps drive the training but also allows for clear and concise feedback from all participants.

Gather Feedback

Gathering feedback is instrumental in ensuring that members of the organization have personalized learning and clear pathways for growth. It is also important for presenters to know what changes need to be made in the approach to leading, teaching, and developing their staff. Flipping faculty development just like a flipped classroom is a pursuit that should not saturate the learning process, but should be used as a tool for engagement and a forward-thinking addition to the growth and development of faculty and staff.

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