2. Inspire

In Step 1 you agreed on 3 core aims or ‘pillars’ that will determine the direction and vision of your school / classroom / district.  If it is whole school you may also have  checked these could be applied to all aspects of your school and used them to define a vision or examples of approaches you might take to make the core aims reality.

Brief – In this step the aim is to get started. A link is provided to the ‘Teacher ladder’ method which is the most efficient way I have found to get a whole team started quickly in a common direction.

The aim is to ensure that ALL staff in your team, school or district start this Monday and implement something that shows your shared core aims and vision are immediately beginning to impact on practice.

 Teacher ladders

The importance of the word ‘ALL’

It is absolutely essential that at least ALL teaching staff at your school do something in the next few weeks that helps the school move in your agreed direction.  Not ALL will be necessarily engaged in the same project and not ALL will be contributing the same amount in the same way but for core aims and a school vision to make any sense at all it has to apply to ALL.

Some headteachers have shared their concerns with me that there are some staff who they tend to allow to do their own thing even when it runs opposite to the culture of the school.  There are many reasons given for this that range from concerns about the ability of the member of staff to contribute, through to worry that the power base of the member of staff is such it would be counter-productive to take them on.  Such enclaves of non-compliance are very rarely found in outstanding schools.  Outstanding headteachers use one or more of the following techniques to ensure that such staff are brought into the collaborative community.

  1. The most common technique is to include ALL staff in the negotiation around the vision and gain peer agreement on a way forward that can then be supported.
  2. Second most common is provide staff with clear and objective criteria from which they can choose.  For example I recently heard a head of department tell their staff that theirs would be an ICT rich department and all staff can expect to be required to allow the students to use internet enabled laptops for every lesson within the next two years.  Any member of staff feeling uncomfortable about this can be supported through X,Y and Z or will be supported in finding a different department to work in.
  3. Third most common I have found is to drive greater and greater collaboration between staff so that they begin to work increasingly in teams.  This has the effect of self organised solutions that involve all of the staff and is a highly democratic way of ensuring ALL are engaged in ways that fit with their own passion for improving education.  Common models here are Team Teaching in which groups are combined so that teachers work together all day, and PLCs or Professional Learning Communities in which staff come together to solve common problems or seek solutions for raising achievement.
  4. Bringing in expert support on a repeating contract to support the required changes.

A large part of my work as a consultant was to come into schools to support headteachers as they attempted to engage ALL staff so I am aware of the difficulties and challenges involved but equally aware of the importance in making this a non-negotiable.

I developed the Teacher Ladders method as a way of reliably engaging ALL staff.  The model is now in use in numerous schools, some which I trained myself but most who have taken the idea and implemented it successfully.  I have been fortunate to get feedback from those that have used it over the years and this has allowed me to refine the process to such a degree that it is now extremely reliable and flexible.

For guidance in how to use my Teacher Ladder method you have the following options

  1. For a brief step by step description that will allow you to get started straight away click here.
  2. For a more detailed explanation with some examples given click here.
  3. For a highly detailed set of explanatory notes, workshop slides and examples view the materials that Microsoft comissioned me to write for their partners in learning international programme.

Project based learning examples



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