School of Thought

Insights & Ideas for Online Teaching

“Teaching” and “Lecturing” are NOT synonymous terms!

“You flip your classroom? Oh, so you don’t ever ‘teach’?”

During my first quarter of flipping my classroom, I was asked this question numerous times.

At first, I was a little insulted at this question. After all, flipping the classroom is no easy task. I don’t walk into my classroom and lecture about a well-known or well-loved topic on a daily basis. I don’t enter the classroom every day and assign meaningless worksheets to my students, either.

Flipping my classroom takes work. It takes preparation. Most importantly, it requires a lot of “teaching,” but perhaps not the type of “teaching” to which many people are accustomed.

Before I decided to flip my classroom, I began to think about my personal definition of teaching. Is teaching simply standing in front of my students lecturing? Is teaching “talking at” my students and expecting them to regurgitate my words on a test?


Teaching and lecturing are not synonymous terms. Lecturing is an instructional strategy; an instructional strategy that many teachers employ. Why do we use this strategy? Is it because lecturing is a positive and beneficial strategy for the majority of our students, or do we use this tool because this is the way we were taught?

While I cannot and will not attempt to speak for all teachers, I used lecturing as my primary instructional strategy mostly because this was the way I was taught. Lecturing was the method through which I learned most effectively.

Every student is not like me.

Times have changed. Students learn in different ways than they did five, ten, twenty, or fifty years ago. Technology plays a huge role in their lives. Instead of rejecting technology, it is time we as educators embrace technology and find meaningful ways to incorporate it into our classes. We can use technology to our advantage!

Teachers can easily create instructional videos for their students to view, either during a class activity or as homework. This allows teachers to effectively and INTENTIONALLY communicate content information to their students. If students find themselves getting lost or losing focus during the instructional video, instead of interrupting the class with a disrupting question, student simply pause or rewind the video!

The next question I always receive is, “so what do you do in class?” To which I answer, “traditional homework, primary source analysis, activities that force students to apply content knowledge instead of simply regurgitating it, cooperative activities, and simulations. And most importantly, I am available to help students who are struggling to understand concepts, clear up confusion about content, and encourage students who understand the content to attempt more complex activities.” Very little of our “face to face” class time is spent in a teacher-centered environment. Do I ever stand up in front of my students and discuss a topic or concept? Sure. Does this happen daily? Nope. Do these discussions take the entire class period? Absolutely not.

How then do I answer the “you don’t teach” question?

I don’t just lecture, I teach.


About the Author -- Bethany Petty is a mother, wife, runner, reader, blogger, learner, Volleyball coach, and full-time high school Social Studies teacher with a passion for educational technology. Bethany holds a BSEd in Secondary Education- Social Studies from Southeast Missouri State University and a MS in Teaching and Learning from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She has been teaching high school American Government and History classes for six years in a school that recently adopted a 1:1 program using Google Chromebooks. Bethany is in her first year of flipping her classes, and maintains a blog, www.usingeducationaltechnology.com, in which she documents her flipped journey and writes about amazing educational technology tools to try in your classroom.

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