I have long-admired the way Toyota does things, and I have for many years injected plenty of their principles into my educational practice because they focus on continuous improvement (kaizen) and respect for people.
I know schools aren’t factories housing production lines but the 14 principles that make up The Toyota Way make a lot of sense and are transferable to many other organisations. So why not education?
Baerland Primary School in Rogaland, Norway looked towards the industrial sector and they also have adopted a 5S way of working inspired by Toyota.
An inefficient classroom is a waste of time, but the 5S approach will help you steal the time back.
In a classroom context, what does the 5S look like?
Step 1: Sort Yourself and Your Classroom
- Sort exactly what it is you want children to learn. Can you cut anything out?
- Do children have everything they need to do an activity?
- Does your classroom have too much furniture?
- Are there more desks and chairs than are needed?
- Are wall displays cluttered and too busy?
- Do you store unnecessary paperwork?
- Can you remove what isn’t absolutely necessary?
Step 2: Straighten Your Classroom
- Does everything in your class have a place?
- Is everything in its place?
- Is it accessible?
- Do children know where to find what they need?
- Are drawers, trays, cupboards etc clearly labelled?
- Do you have allocated spaces for different types of learning?
Step 3: Make Your Classroom Shine
- Are containers and storage areas clean and tidy?
- Do you get children to clean up after themselves?
- Is there a clear expectation that work-spaces and the floor space are to be kept ship shape?
- Are children’s desks covered in things that aren’t needed for the task in hand?
- Can we remove mental clutter and distractions?
- Can we reduce waste and add value?
Step 4: Standardize Your Classroom
- Do your labels do their job?
- Is your classroom communicating or confusing?
- Have you given consideration to where key information, timetables, reminders and menus are placed?
- Do you have colour coding that differentiate between topics and instructions?
Step 5: Sustain Your Classroom
- Do you maintain and keep on top of the classroom or does the classroom get on top of you and the children?
- Do children have pride in their classroom and want to be there?
- Is there an expectation of excellence?
- Are standards maintained through regular updates and weekly checks?