Tag Archives: Kaizen

Can I come back to you later?







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.


Kaizen Teacher Forums

The Kaizen Network is a supportive network set up some years ago by a group of likeminded headteachers who were frustrated by the top down model of networking being promoted at the time through government and local authorities.   We shared similar passions and beliefs around education and were keen to work in a collaborative way to bring about the best opportunities for our schools.  The network has enabled us to work on a number of areas including the development of  pupil voice, parental engagement, use of new technologies and the sharing of good practice and ideas.   We have organised shared training days, brought in key note speakers to shared conferences and linked up with partners around the world.   The children meet with their peers in partner schools to share their learning and they video conference with partner school in Australia.   This week we all collapsed our usual staff meetings to enable the Kaizen teacher forums to take place.   These forums enable staff from our different year groups to meet with their peers in our partner schools to share areas of common concern, talk through new ideas and share practice and resources in a collegiate and supportive atmosphere.   The current arrangement sees YR and Y1, Y2 and Y3, Y4 and Y5 and Y6 meet as four separate groups.   This week it was fantastic to have a Y7 teacher from a local high school come along and look at children’s writing with the Y6 teachers and share how APP is rolled out in her school.

The forums rotate around the schools in the network so staff are also able to visit different settings and see  how other schools and classrooms are organised differently to their own.   It’s a powerful model of professional development, non threatening and encouraging with no top down remit.   Staff are asked to find areas of common interest as a starting point and the forums then develop and take their own course.   The next stage in the forums will be visiting each others classrooms during a working day.   Possibly teaching together, maybe observing each other in an informal but helpful way, whatever staff come back and say they want to happen – our role as headteachers is to facilitate that.  In today’s shifting educational landscape the network is more relevant and important to us than ever and we fully embrace and exemplify the school to school support model – but I don’t think any of us would have done things differently anyway.