At a time when Gove and others are telling teachers they should be talking more and partaking in ‘whacky gimmicks’ like group work (!) less, we are delighted to have received this feedback about the power of the Lazy Teaching approach as espoused by our Associate Jim Smith in his two best-selling books – The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook and Whole-School Progress the Lazy Way.
We hope it reassures you that the power of great teacher is often in what they refrain from doing.
I joined my current school as Deputy in 2010. Five months later we were in Special Measures. (I did see it coming, but couldn’t convince the Head in those five months that drastic change was needed.)
About that time I stumbled across your first book The Lazy Teacher’s Handbook. (I have since had it stolen by one of many teachers who were desperate to get their hands on it.) A lot of what you were saying really resonated with me a) because you were spot on and b) because a lot of your principles I was already applying to my teaching.
In the school the teaching profile was awful with maybe only three of the teachers with any capacity to improve. I began a coaching programme starting with one of these teachers. His grades were coming out as inadequate or requiring improvement.
I worked closely with him and soon enough he ‘got it’ and his teaching was improving very quickly.
The first HMI visit came and 16% of lessons were deemed good.
With this other teacher, I put together a programme of coaching. I told him about some of your principles and we worked on getting them – and some of our own – across to selected staff.
As we improved staff they too grew into coaches. Our guiding principal was always that the children needed to be working harder than the teachers.
To cut an already long story short, in November 2011 we moved out of special measures with 64% of teaching at least good. I got an outstanding and so did two other staff members.
I think at that point I messaged you on Twitter.
Since then I read your second book and with my teaching buddy we set about formalising some of our coaching processes (again based on yours and our principles).
One piece of work we undertook was devising a model to show progress in observations in the second half of lessons (we’d spotted a big difference between getting observed first half and second half).
Anyway, this week things have come full circle really. We had OFSTED on Wednesday and Thursday and, although I can’t say too much, we are very pleased.
My mate was observed three times and nailed two outstanding lessons. Another of the originals nailed outstanding twice too and the other nailed a good.
No lesson observed was less than good and our only improvement point is to move all teaching to outstanding…
Your books have aided us so much already and we wanted to see your principles in practice first hand. We are already working on a plan to cascade outstanding practice around to even more staff and hope we can pick up a few ideas (from your INSET).
So after all of that (sorry I’m not great with words) I just wanted to say a big thank you for the help and inspiration your work provided, it gave us structures to tag our ideas onto…
And, in case you feel all this praise would go to Jim’s head, he tells us that this is how he was introduced before a staff INSET at the beginning of term:
‘Now the quality of an INSET Course is often judged by its lunch. It’s lasagne today which I really like. So, Jim, no pressure, it’s going to be a great day anyway. But to be fair whatever you think of the lunch, Independent Thinking speakers are often better than lasagne. Jim, I hope you continue that trend!’
So, there are you have it. Lazy Teaching works and Independent Thinking speakers are better than lasagne.
You heard it here first!