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Flipcon 2013: The Common Thread: Connections = Growth

Can a few days rejuvenate the spirit of veteran special education teacher that thought he’d seen it all? YES!!

It’s absolutely exciting to have viewed teachers making change completely on their own. Technology gives us time, student data, and means to connect in ways that I had only dreamed of.

I have been blending technology into my special education interventions since the Reader Rabbit and Math Blaster days – such a long way we have come. I’ve seen a lot of “edufads” come and go over my 13 years as a special educator. This time it’s different. With the speed of internet access increasing every day combined with iPads, cheaper laptops, social media, and EdTech companies popping up left and right providing free- to low-cost services and products it has never been easier for teachers to connect and learn from each other. It is an inspiring process to behold.


I learned at Flipcon13 that not only do we have the tools, but we have a common theme. There is a movement happening.

How do I know this, beyond the clever TED Talk video from Derek Sivers ? A common theme was heard at Flipcon13 from Jon Bergman, Aaron Sams, and during the breakout sessions: Flipping enables student-to-teacher connection. The best result of flipping the classroom is time gained in the classroom.

Building connections between teacher, students, and peers within a class takes time. As students get older and continue with schooling they can become more and more disillusioned with the world. Replacing fairy tales with glorious facts is a difficult and necessary process. Reality can totally overwhelm if young people are not prepared for it. A teacher’s job is to impart the beauty of reality and some skills with which to deal with it.

A teacher’s job is to impart the beauty of reality – and some skills to deal with it. Without time to build personal connections, the process of learning can lead to disillusionment, frustration, and apathy toward learning. The majority of my students have, for one reason or another, fallen into this category and it has been my job to bring them out of it. A student losing the love of learning is truly a tragedy.

Humans learn through failure. From connection comes the opportunity for teachers to inspire and provide a safe place where students can commit trial and error on any given assignment. The teachers and presenters at Flipcon13 clearly know this. All the presenters talked about allowing students to question, experiment, collaborate, and fail in order to learn and grow. I place my students in classrooms that I know are very collaborative, active, structured, and where the kids are supported enough to go through little failures.


Constructive cognitive growth occurs in a safe and secure environment. Measurable growth will occur for all students with enough teacher/student face time. This is what Flipcon13 seemed to be about. The nuts and bolts of the technology that allows you more time and live data were definitely present at the conference. However, the overarching theme of going through the flip process is clearly to free up teachers to make crucial connections with each individual child in order to produce real cognitive growth.

I’m so impressed with this culture. general education and special education can finally work closely together for all students through the responsible use of technology.

These are exciting times!

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