We Did it Here!

Inspirational Stories of School Improvement and Classroom Change

By: Brin Best


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Size: 234mm x 156mm

Pages : 272

ISBN : 9781845900892

Format: Paperback

Published: April 2008


This inspirational book tells the story of how school leaders and teachers have made dramatic improvements in their schools, thanks to a special blend of vision, creativity and determination. Our current education system is replete with new initiatives, government programmes, imposed targets and national tests. For many working in education today this has stifled creativity, innovation and motivation. When confronted with exciting findings from educational research and inspirational training courses that could benefit schools, the response, ‘but we couldn’t do that at our school’ is frequently heard. It seems that many of those working in our schools have become disenchanted with change and disempowered from creating a brighter future for our children.

Using up-to-date case studies from a range of secondary schools, We Did It Here! shows how others have brought about dramatic changes in their schools. It showcases outstanding and inspirational practice from schools throughout the country. During a tour of some of the finest educational practice today, the book details how you too can learn from the schools featured and put meaningful change into place in your school. The issues addressed include:

  • Turning around a failing inner city school
  • Creating partnerships with the community
  • Focussing on learning
  • Embedding ICT and e-learning
  • Creating an enterprise school
  • Regeneration through school collaboration

The book concludes with a chapter on learning the lessons of these case studies and Brin’s own vision of how to bringing about effective change in your school, department or classroom. We Did It Here! will make you think afresh about just what you can achieve in your school and challenge you to lift your horizons.


Picture for author Brin Best

Brin Best

Brin has been working in and around schools for 15 years and has taught at every age range from primary school right up to university masters level.

He began his career as a secondary school teacher, and soon found himself as head of geography at Settle High School & Community College, situated in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. Following lots of hard work, his department and students received a number of prestigious awards. He also had a role as a development officer at this school, leading fundraising and marketing activities.

His next move was into advisory work in another part of Yorkshire, Barnsley, a town that has suffered from considerable social disadvantage. Here he was a gifted and talented coordinator for a local education authority, arranging high quality teaching, learning and enrichment for young people and overseeing a £1.5 million budget. This was similar to being an advisory teacher for schools, but also involved project management and advocacy work on behalf of gifted and talented pupils.

Brin then became independent when he set up my company Innovation for Education Ltd, of which he is still the director. He now works with hundreds of schools every year in a support capacity as well as leading training courses and writing books and articles for teachers and school leaders. He has chaired several national conferences on education themes and is a regular speaker at high profile events across the country. He recently featured in a series of professional development films for Teachers' TV. He has also been the editor of various professional periodicals, including School Financial Management, which he edited for seven years.

Brin is really proud to be one of the few education consultants whose work has been shortlisted three times in the National Educational Resources Awards. The Teachers' Pocketbooks series, for which he was the co-originator as well as having written six titles in the series, won this prestigious award in 2005.

His twenty-fifth book, on Cost-effective Fundraising in Schools, was published in 2011. His books are widely sold across Europe, North America, Asia and Australasia and his Accelerated Learning Pocketbook has recently been published in the Slovak language.



Creativity and the exciting possibilities of change permeate all of Brin's work. He believes that children and young people are capable of amazing things if we give them the tools and the emotional support they need to reach their potential.


Reviews

  1. In this entertaining book, Brin Best, a teacher turned education consultant, reports on instances of inspirational school improvement and classroom change. He wants to get across that the “you couldn't do that here” attitude is plain wrong - that there is room for creativity and imagination in education.

    He recounts the story of the PE teacher who has a Year 11 class where 96 per cent of pupils are expected to achieve grades A*-C at GCSE in 2008 (it was a lowly 27 per cent in 2006), or there's the head, who turned to the -˜14 principles for effective organisations' that were put together by US business leader W. Edwards Deming, the man credited with improving Japanese management from the 1950s onwards.

    Best's book is a celebration of innovation, creativity and motivation - aspects that are often lost in the climate of initiatives, national targets and tests. As he portrays successful schools and school leaders, he builds to a climax where he draws up a 10-point manifesto for -˜real change in our schools'.



    Best's lessons for school leaders are clear. Two of the main ones are that leaders must accept the responsibility that comes with the more flexible educational framework for schools that lies ahead. They should also commit to making creativity a key Dart of the ethos of the school.
  2. About six months ago I asked Crown House Publishing whether they were aware or not of whether all the books they publish on changing the face of education were actually having any impact within the educational system. So it was with great surprise that I received this book to review.

    The essence of the book can be summed up as follows:

    “When rules and regulations stifle creativity and productivity, there will always be quiet leaders who will find solutions to over come the overbearing ruling in whatever form it takes.”

    The book itself is more like a documentary. It tells through story, pictures and facts and figures the dedicated efforts of educators who seek to make learning so much more than what it has become. The courage and commitment of these schools to dare to become something more than what is being asked by Regulatory Bodies has without a doubt made learning exciting and relevant to students in terms of every day living and life.

    I liked the personal stories of the schools, educators and students who were able to show how learning today very much needs to have some relevance to every day life in our community, our environment and in our relationships. The encouragement to look at being independent and interdependent is truly unique and wonderful to read about.

    This book will really encourage those educators who have wondered how they can turn things around within their classroom (or school) whilst still meeting deadlines and reports for the overhead regulations.



    “We Did It Here” is the first step to creating a forum of like minded educators who rise above a system that is long over due an overhaul and be living examples of what is possible when you are creative, confident and caring in one's approach to learning. The pay off is experiencing the joy of seeing students truly live the meaning of “educare”.
  3. This is both an enthralling book and an excellent source of effective practice and strategies for change. With the pressure on so many schools to push forward the targets, the book is full of support materials for managers and staff at all levels. As a freelance consultant who has witnessed the consequences of both uplifting and disappointing performances by short term change gurus, it was heartening to read of the sustainable progress at Northumberland Park and Matthew Moss schools. It was particularly pertinent to note the significant role played by student observers of teaching and learning at Matthew Moss school. This book is a must for all managers to enable staff teams to reflect on good practice in other schools and to ask themselves whether “We Might Do It Here As Well”.
  4. We did it here! is a treasure trove of hope and a distillation of wisdom for building successful schools. This outstanding raft of case studies and lessons in leadership is brilliantly written by Brin Best. At the beginning of the 21st Century we are often encouraged to “work outside the box”, a very worthy expression of innovative intent. This book offers up much more than dreams and intentions, this is the stuff of current realities. It contains solid evidence of learners and leaders working not just “in the box” and “out of the box”, but out to the very corners of the box and the space it sits in. Charged with positive energy, and balanced with rigorous research, this book explores the ways in which contemporary schools are serving their learners at the cutting edge of practice. This is a must-read for every teacher, senior leader and aspirant manager, not to mention an uplifting and stimulating read for anyone with an interest in teaching and learning. This beautifully considered work provides the rules for success for an effective school. It celebrates effective practice and goes on to eloquently challenge the existing system and lay down tracks for the next 50 years of educational history.
  5. As Harold McAlindon once said:

    Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.



    This book celebrates some innovative trailblazers without alienating the less adventurous. It provides creative ideas broken down into 'doable' chunks, and is liberally peppered with a 'can-do' attitude. I hope that government are receptive to Brin's challenge to nurture creativity within our system. The more that follow the excellent ideas in the book, the happier our society will be.
  6. If I were a secondary Head Teacher I would want to keep a copy of We Did It Here in full sight to remind me just what schools should be about; if I were a classroom teacher, I would want a copy to remind me just why I came in to teaching; and if I were training to be a teacher, I would want it to show me just what I was aiming for. Prepared to be inspired and uplifted!

    A must for all secondary school leaders and governors.
  7. There are few things as reassuring and compelling to teachers and school leaders as case studies of success. All the theory in the world is outweighed by one story that educationalists can relate to in their own context. Brin Best has produced a range of compelling stories which give detailed guidance on how schools have addressed some of the most challenging issues of today. Each study provides credible examples of actual strategies that have worked. The narrative is accompanied by a range of supportive materials and is underpinned by detailed and systematic analysis, explanation and discussion. This is a practical resource that allows schools to explore the possibilities of change.
  8. We Did It Here! bills itself as a set of “inspirational stories of school improvement and classroom change”, and looks to offer a series of informative case studies offering ideas and activities to inspire young learners.

    The book seeks to demonstrate how teachers and school leaders can create powerful changes in their schools in an education system that is replete with new initiatives, government programmes and imposing targets.

    The case studies include schools that have set up and run their own magazines, transformed themselves in challenging circumstances, established links with business and industry, and created websites, all backed up with helpful pictures and photographs to give the reader concrete examples of the potential outcomes of the advice.

    There is also a chapter looking at individual teachers' actions, which aims to show that it is possible to achieve great results at classroom level, even in struggling schools.

    Among other topics, it looks at transforming PE and science, making ICT more exciting, and meeting the needs of more able students.



    Author Brin Best is an educational consultant who has worked as a teacher, head of department, and local authority advisory teacher. He has drawn on his own experiences, and visited a range of different secondary schools across the country to compile this guide to motivating and inspiring learners.

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