Classroom Management - Kaizen Techniques

Kaizen is a Japanese philosophy of continuous improvement at workplace. It can be applied to wide range of scenarios like working practices, manufacturing processes and employee efficiency. Kaizen can also be applied for personal growth or enhancing life skills.

Kaizen techniques advocate making small improvements at a time, which add up to something substantial over a longer period of time. The five steps of Kaizen, also called 5S, are −

  • Sort
  • Straighten
  • Shine
  • Standardize
  • Sustain

The Kaizen philosophy says that you don’t need to repair something only after it breaks down. Instead, you can keep looking for scope of improvement and work upon them so that there never is any breakdown. Education is an ideal case for such proactive continuous improvement. Let’s see how you can apply Kaizen techniques to improve your class management techniques.

Continuous Improvement

Identify a Problem

You must be having many problems handling your classes; however experienced you are the dynamic environment of a classroom keeps throwing new challenges. Follow these steps to identify the one problem you want to improve upon first −

  • Make a list of all the problems you are currently facing.

  • Sort the problems into unique problems and repetitive problems.

  • For each of the two groups, arrange the problems in decreasing order of severity.

  • Make a note of two problems at the top of both groups.

  • Choose one of the problems that you want to start with first.

Determine the Root Cause

After you identify a single problem you need to determine the reason behind it. In an environment as dynamic and hostile as a classroom it is difficult to find the cause of any problem. However it is necessary for you to do so in order to find a solution. Here are some points you can explore to find origin of the problem −

  • When did you notice the problem first
  • What is the frequency of the problem
  • Did the incident involve one student or more
  • Do the same set of students cause this problem repeatedly
  • What are the actions or incidents that lead up to it

When you work on these basic questions, many more related queries will come up by themselves. Answering them will give a sense of the triggers behind the problem. Put them on paper as clearly as possible. If you seem to have more than one triggers try to list them in order of severity or sequence of events.

You might need to observe the class and students’ behavior for some time before you can come to a definite conclusion regarding this. Do not hesitate to discuss the problem with other teachers as they may be facing it themselves in their own classes.

Propose a Solution

Identifying the triggers for a problem solve the problem by 50%. To accomplish the next 50% you need to find a solution. Propose a way out for each of the triggers you have listed down. Consult other teachers and school management in doing so. Taking others’ input will expose you to fresh approaches to the problem, which you might not have considered yourself.

But finding a way out for each of the problem triggers is not sufficient. Your solution should contain all these −

  • Solution to triggers − You should list down the ways to overcome each of the problem triggers. There may be more than one way of tackling each. Be sure to list down all of them.

  • Implementation steps − Write down the sequential steps for implementing each solution. You should come up with multiple sequences (ideally 2 or 3) so that you have a contingency plan in case the first one doesn’t work.

  • Implementation plan − The solution should have a timeline of when you are going to execute it. Also include a list of resources like teachers, students, infrastructure, etc. that you will need, and how you are going to source and utilize them.

Test the Solution

After the implementation plan is ready, you need to test it in small steps. There are two ways of doing this −

  • Choose a smaller set of students on whom you implement the full plan.

  • Implement the first, say 2 or 3, steps on the whole group of students causing the problem.

Whatever your testing approach, be ready to tweak the solution as you proceed and judge how it is actually going. Even after giving it enough time if you sense that it is not working at all, feel free to select the contingency plan or abandon the whole exercise and start afresh from the determine root cause phase. There should be no feeling of failure here as you have learnt valuable lessons that you will use the next time and increase chances of success.

You need to remember that class is a very dynamic environment and any new measure will need time, patience and positive outlook to succeed.

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