Kaizen: Classroom Climate Change?

Summary A different way of looking at the teaching and learning interface?

I have found three short pieces about Kaizen and thought they might provoke some new thinking about the way we view the teaching and learning process in the West. I know we are not producing Toyota cars, but we have had TQM (Total Quality Managemnt) concepts thrust at us. Some aspects made me think about Hay McBer and "Classroom Climate". Are we ready for classroom climate change? Do we really expect more funding to appear? Can we learn anything from Kaizen that is relevant to education?

Masaaki Imai defined Kaizen as: "a means of continuing improvement in personal life, home life, social life, and working life. At the workplace, Kaizen means continuing improvement involving everyone-managers and workers alike. The Kaizen business strategy involves everyone in an organization working together to make improvements without large capital investments." Instead of sinking more money in buying machinery or running them for a longer duration, Kaizen veers an organization towards paying attention to small but significant details. Managers are encouraged to improve the efficiency of existing infrastructure instead of investing in more of the same. "And that," says Imai, "can happen only if you are familiar with every inch of your gemba (workplace)". (From "Changing with Kaizen")

The 10 Commandments of Improvement (from Kaizen Blitz Gemba)

1. Abandon fixed ideas.

2. Think of ways to make it possible.

3. No excuses needed.

4. Go for the simple solution, not the perfect one.

5. Correct mistakes right away.

6. Use your wits, not your wallet.

7. Problems are opportunities.

8. Repeat ‘why?’ five times.

9. Seek ideas from many people.

10. There is no end to improvement

Classroom Climate Dimensions (From Hay McBer A model for teacher Effectiveness)

Each climate dimension represents an aspect of how the pupils feel in that classroom. They are defined as follows:

1.   Clarity around the purpose of each lesson. How each lesson relates to the broader subject, as well as clarity regarding the aims and objectives of the school.

2.   Order within the classroom, where discipline, order and civilised behaviour are maintained.

3.   A clear set of Standards as to how pupils should behave and what each pupil should do and try to achieve, with a clear focus on higher rather than minimum standards.

4.   Fairness: the degree to which there is an absence of favouritism, and a consistent link between rewards in the classroom and actual performance.

5.   Participation: the opportunity for pupils to participate actively in the class by discussion, questioning, giving out materials, and other similar activities.

6.   Support: feeling emotionally supported in the classroom, so that pupils are willing to try new things and learn from mistakes.

7.   Safety: the degree to which the classroom is a safe place, where pupils are not at risk from emotional or physical bullying, or other fear-arousing factors.

8.   Interest: the feeling that the classroom is an interesting and exciting place to be, where pupils feel stimulated to learn.

9.   Environment: the feeling that the classroom is a comfortable, well organised, clean and attractive physical environment.