Hawes Side Primary School & The Kaizen Network – Day 2

| October 21, 2011 | 1 Comment 

Continuous change – a process, not an event, (as Michael Fullan stated)- is “the only way forward.

So say the the colleagues from the Kaizen Network of schools. The Kaizen Network is a way for this group of  innovative schools to work together, to share ideas, discuss concerns and find solutions. It enables staff and children to collaborate, to support and advise each other to the mutual benefit of all involved.

What a delight it has been, therefore, to work alongside imaginative, committed, teachers, and children investigating and experimenting with many different ways of taking things even further.

After experiencing pressures, from many directions, a group of like-minded heads felt that small steps that allowed people to progress, almost without noticing, was the answer. Too much change can worry people.They wanted to ensure those who resist change were supported as well as those who embrace it. They also wanted to promote a culture where continuous improvement is accepted as the norm. Not standing still, constantly looking at “ourselves”, at practice, how we teach and learn and looking to build on, and improve what happens within the school walls.

In tune with the Kaizen philosophy the network is growing one step at a time, all partner schools share common values and beliefs which makes working together much easier and much more fun. Pupil voice is strong in all the schools as is staff development through collaboration and the sharing of great ideas. Other recent shared INSET days for staff have allowed the chance to look at curriculum design collaboratively, to share good practice and hear people such as Ralph Pirozzo and Lane Clarke, by pooling funds.

Staff are working together in smaller groups on parental engagement at the foundation stage, creative curriculum and teaching and learning. Pupil forums exist in each of the schools focussed on effective learning and use of web 2.0 technology. The children video conference, blog and meet face to face when possible to learn from each other. Their work is then shared with the wider school communities and has a positive impact on learning.

Michael Shepherd, head teacher at Hawes Side Primary @Smichael920, kindly recorded some thoughts here:

Two fantastic days that have helped staff not only look at how to introduce games based learning into the classroom, but have also enabled us to revisit important pedagogical points.

A key principle for me has been the need to freeze frame, slow down, think, question and imagine more with learners.

And Lee Glynn, Deputy Headteacher, Hawes Side Primary @glynnlee, reflected on yesterday’s lessons:

Well, a training session with Tim Rylands, where should I start (excuse me while I take a slurp of my virtual coffee)? For those of you that have had the pleasure of seeing Tim work you will know that this is one of his many ways of eliciting conversation from the classes in which he works. I say classes; Tim has just done three demo lessons with groups of 60 mixed ability children spanning the primary age range as part of our INSET at Hawes Side Primary School. Now, to my mind, when teachers see an ‘expert’ work this is what they want to see; real life, warts ‘n’ all primary school children and lots of ‘em being engaged and learning!

Tim, know by many for his use of the game ‘Myst’, is in my opinion about much more than using video games. What he promotes is how shared conversation, skilfully supported, allows children to gain success in writing and possibly, even more importantly, social interaction – yes life skills! The positive environment he develops breeds a sense of achievement and a culture of safe risk taking for those within. It promotes listening, turn taking and the borrowing and enhancing of the work of others (some academic friends of mine assure me this that is how all quality research is done; yes they ‘steal ideas’). These elements in my mind are a real embodiment of assessment for learning principles, recognising success and developing improvements.

I witnessed children follow… no lead Tim on an adventure littered with beautiful words, sensational simile and marvellous metaphor. Tim’ s words of ‘you must stop writing’,  as he says music to a teachers ears, were uttered (humourously) on numerous occasions. As professionals how often have we found ourselves having to say similar things, how often have we had that level of total engagement?  Tim achieved this with children he didn’t know in a setting he had no previous experience of. This must mean that something is going right, what Tim says is golden! The games provide stimulus, a window of limitless opportunity but what I learned from Tim is that it’s not game play; his messages are a pathway towards a more perfect pedagogy.

Category: 1) Events and Training days

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  1. Helen Ife says:

    Thank you Tim and sarah – looking forward to ‘rumaging’ around the free websites and using them to help with teaching and learning. Must go – feel Myst calling!..

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