The first thing that impresses you about working with Tim Rylands is he doesn’t just talk about it, he does it. Before we agreed to our two days with him as part of our Kaizen staff training and development, Tim urged me to put him in front of children, so that staff could see his ideas and approaches in action. It meant a lot. It gave him credibility with staff because he got up and delivered. To sixty children at a time! Y2, Y4 and Y6. Three demo lessons that had the children reaching for language and stretching their imagination like never before. Staff were invited to get involved and enjoyed the opportunity to watch the children but also to immerse themselves in the virtual worlds being created. It was great to see some of our more reticent children rising to Tim’s challenges, growing in stature and having a ball. Staff observed Tim using a range of strategies to draw the maximum out of pupils, to plant a seed, to nudge, provoke and promote thinking.
One of the devices Tim used with the children was to speak to them, listen to them for a while and then ask if he could come back to them later – which he always did. This enabled the children to think about what they were going to say next – a sort of drip feed that encouraged, prompted and helped them push their ideas along. Facial expression, tone of voice and use of props all played a part in the demo lessons. Staff took a lot away from the sessions and reported that it helped the next day make all the more sense.
Tim’s reputation comes from his fantastic work with Myst but it would be doing him a disservice to suggest it rests solely on this. His work with the staff in our network took us beyond technology and gaming. He paused scenes in a number of games and encouraged staff to think about what they could see, sense, feel, smell. He asked them to picture scenes, take on the role of characters and imagine journeys, lives and outcomes. Just as he had with the children the day before. The same approaches could be taken with pictures and artifacts, through role play and much more. At its core Tim’s work is about the art and craft of teaching, a creative, questioning approach used to great effect to draw the very best out of the children, to make learning an exciting adventure.