How the Kaizen method can boost student outcomes and encourage a healthier classroom environment
How you approach self-assessment and change in every educational institution is key to consistent growth. Under constant strain that is only getting harder to bear, it is becoming essential for UK Schools to find and enforce more efficient ways of working within their environment.
One approach to work that has been tried and tested by all sorts of situations around the world is called the Kaizen method, otherwise known as continuous improvement and it’s easy to see how it can be adaptable to schools and other educational establishments.
Kaizen is a compound of two words that, when put together, means “change for the better”. It is a system designed for continuous, daily improvement by humanizing the process in which everyone works from top to bottom, by having everyday conversations to bring about everyday changes. It requires an acceptance that there is no perfect work environment and a mindset that even tiny improvements can yield big results.
How does Kaizen apply to education?
In an educational setting, creating a space for students and teachers to have day-to-day conversations and action plans to help them work more effectively, instead of leaving issues unchecked for days, weeks, and even months can help boost results.
Here are 5 pillars of Kaizen, and how they can be used to promote a healthier classroom environment for teachers and students:
1. Identifying Needs
No matter the issue, having daily conversations around areas of improvement with all staff and students helps encourage a feeling of oneness within every institution. But also having a regular way of easily assessing where students are struggling would be a game-changer for the pupil as much as the teacher.
Being evaluated daily means that they are receiving personal feedback in real-time, and the work that is being given to them can be adapted to each individual student to help improve their understanding of a particular topic. This means that while lessons are going on, they can progress daily on their learning needs.
It’s like going to the gym – if you go there every day to build up muscle, then progress will be swift. But what happens if you only go once a week or every two weeks? Muscle will build up slowly, if at all. It makes sense to try and power up children’s learning by identifying and acting on their needs more quickly.
2. Zero waste
Teachers are overworked, and if a school is underperforming, then this usually means that teachers are given yet more paperwork to do instead of having a proper conversation about how performance and job satisfaction can be improved.
Coming up with ways to help them cut down on unnecessary administrative work and planning for each lesson will allow them to focus their energy on improving the outcomes of their students, especially at the end of terms, when exams take center stage, and everyone has a better idea on possible performance reducing unnecessary angst.
Ensuring that words turn into action is vital for a positive work environment because the value is only created where things can be seen to visibly happen. A mindset of continuous improvement means that when issues are identified quicker, effective action plans can be created and enacted faster. The opportunity to be able to adapt each student’s learning to their needs would surely help change the way the children think about education. It would build confidence, as it stops them from comparing themselves with each other, instead focusing purely on bettering themselves.
At all levels, performance and improvement should be visible, so having reliable data at hand is key to helping teachers and students to be accountable to each other. It helps open up honest conversations that help students explore why they are struggling in a certain area, instead of accepting they will never fully understand what they are learning.
5. Empowering people
This is a key pillar for Kaizen; to provide a system where problems can be anticipated or picked up on quickly and provide the tools by which students can feel empowered to achieve their maximum potential by giving the teachers their time back to be able to do what they love most – teach.
A Kaizen mindset allows students to take more ownership of their learning, by establishing which areas they need to focus their study on and finding simple ways to improve their understanding.
Adopting a mindset of continuous improvement can enhance a school’s performance immeasurably. By having daily conversations, a more positive work environment forms, and having ready-made tools to act on agreed goals can speed up the process. Incorporating digital tools in the learning process can also have significant benefits.
Our app helps inform conversations by allowing teachers to easily create in-lesson classroom assessments. This means feedback can be given in real-time, data can be collected on the outcomes of the assessments, and action plans are automatically drawn up leading to more consistency and more self-sovereign students. Our beta version is here; we have a limited number of spaces available for schools to test the initial version before the final release. Fill out our contact us form to find out more.