Tag Archives: digital leaders

Kaizen Network and Collaboration

Tomorrow it’s our annual Kaizen Inset Day. Each year we agree one common training day for all our staff. We pool our resources to bring in the best people to lead a day in one of our schools. This work can then be further developed in our own settings with collaborative approaches informed by a shared message.

Kaizen means small steps to continuous improvement. The name of this Japanese business model suits our aims perfectly. We set up this informal network as a group of new (ish) head teachers around ten years ago. Our initial aim was to support each other in our burgeoning leadership roles. We shared a common set of values and beliefs and we were all keen to work closely, to develop a school to school support model that would help our schools grow, and help us grow as school leaders.

Initially our network was a leadership support mechanism but it quickly grew to a body which included pupil teaching and learning groups, digital leaders, debating societies and subject leader clusters.   Recently children from each school visited Houses of Parliament.   This followed a joint pupil teaching and learning day looking at school values.   Before half term the teaching and learning groups shared presentations based on findings amongst pupils in their own schools on ‘what makes the ideal teacher, the ideal learner?’  Debating societies at the same pupil conference debated whether the government should pay for homes for the homeless (this topic was chosen by the pupils from a number of options).   The work the pupils are engaged in is shared back in their own schools via assemblies and school council meetings.   A focus on speaking and listening is developing the confidence and understanding of those involved, and the more we can involve, the better!

Staff work together on key aspects of their roles and this is something we will be developing further this year with our focus on collaborative improvement and lesson study.  Subject leaders find it useful to moderate beyond their school and local clusters (Kaizen involves schools from across the region and internationally) and in this new age without levels, such sessions are more important than ever.  Last year our Kaizen Inset Day was led by Professor Barry Hymer, we looked carefully at the research into Growth Mindset and how such work could impact on our schools’ approaches.  This year the day is being led by Dr Pete Dudley, to build on our approaches to Lesson Study.   Plans are already afoot for inter school research using the Lesson Study model.   The afternoon will be given over to a Teaching and Learning Exchange, where staff from Kaizen partner schools share a range of pedagogical approaches that they are having successes with in the classroom.   These practitioner led workshops provide a ‘warts and all’ view that is refreshingly honest and helpful to colleagues in developing their own practices.

The Kaizen network grew organically.  There was no top down initiative, no external funding and no outside agenda.   The strength of the partnership is the shared belief that by working together, supporting each other and collaborating, we can improve the teaching and learning in our schools and provide a better all round education for our children.

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The New Digital Leaders

Last week our Digital Leaders gave presentations on a number of programmes, tools and applications they have been researching and trialling over the last month. This year’s group have a slightly different remit than previous incumbents as they introduce staff and pupils to the possibilities of the new green screen, but their confidence, understanding and ability illustrate how children’s approach to technology to support learning is changing.

Our previous ICT groups have operated under different names; The ICT Group, The ICT strategy Group, Web 2.0 Kids but essentially it is a group of 10 and 11 year olds who support the school in developing the use of technology in the classroom. From road testing hardware to presenting on Web 2.0 to staff the group have a key role in taking us forward.

Our first ICT Group was formed several years ago, when we asked a group of interested Y6 children to take away some netbooks to trial. We asked them to play with them for a week and let us know what they thought. Their findings surprised us- they said they were ok for connectivity but the keyboard was too small and children would want full size laptops-but most importantly we realised we had been missing an important voice in our development of technology in school, the user. Me of them gave us a detailed written summary of the netbooks’ capabilities and potential for classroom use!

Since then our different groups of digital leaders have sported less confident staff in the development of class blogs (each year group is assigned Pupil ICT support) researched and presented on web 2.0 tools (identifying a key number to support learning) and presented nationally on their work at the ICT Register event. In the summer we held our first ever ‘kidsmeet’ which gave the children the chance to share what they had been doing with other schools who were using similar approaches. They regularly share their findings with staff and governors on different aspects of technology and in the new year, our New Digital Leaders will present to a larger number of schools on the ‘I am Learning’ platform.

The children have an important voice in the development of technology across the school. Year after year they surprise us with their increasing knowledge, their mature approach to its use to support learning and their willingness to research, share and move our thinking forward.