Whole School Progress the LAZY Way

Follow me, I'm right behind you

By: Jim Smith


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Products specifications
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Size: 182mm x 222mm
Pages : 168
ISBN : 9781781350065
Format: Paperback
Published: August 2012

Based on Jim Smith’s learning and leadership work with schools across the country, this book is packed with highly practical solutions and suggestions that are proven to help you improve the quality of learning (and therefore progress!) both in your classroom and across the school. And as it’s all done in the laziest possible way, it will be the pupils working harder, not you!

Following on from the acclaimed The Lazy Teacher’s HandbookWhole School Progress the LAZY Way applies Jim Smith’s lazy philosophy to the thorny issue of ‘making progress’. Aimed at improving learning both in the classroom and across the school, this book once again shows how you can use Jim’s renowned ‘lazy way’ to put student’s learning first rather than your teaching or paranoia about progress. And the result? Outstanding progress in your lessons without even a hint of traffic lights, mini-whiteboards or thumbs up! Be it planning for progress, capturing evidence of progress in a lesson or using lesson observation techniques that make progress explicit, the book offers lots of new techniques which have led to ‘outstanding’ judgements during Ofsted inspections. Just ask the author!

What’s more, Jim extends his ideas across the whole school. Drawing on his experience with ‘lazy leadership’ he shows how his philosophy can have a dramatic impact on areas such as lesson observations, performance management and professional development. It’s not about leading the learning. It’s about the learning leading you. And when you let it, your school is never the same again.

Picture for author Jim Smith

Jim Smith

Jim Smith, the laziest (yet still professional) teacher in town, is a head of school, education consultant, Independent Thinking Associate, speaker and bestselling author.


  1. Smith brings progress down from its pedestal and makes it accessible for every teacher and learner. A genuine, informed and incredibly utilitarian handbook to getting the job done well.
  2. Having been a -˜worshipper' of -˜The Lazy Teacher's Handbook' I couldn't wait to get my hands on his latest publication -¦ and it does not disappoint. As we all know change is never easy and changing the mindsets and working practices of learners and colleagues can be particularly hard work. Having worked tirelessly myself over the last five years to improve the quality of Learning and Teaching not only in my own classroom but in the classroom of my colleagues I wholeheartedly embrace the culture of Jim Smith. This book is full of innovative but realistic strategies for the improvement of learning in the classroom and wider strategic visions for Learning and Teaching that are compatible with every institution. This is a must read for every educationalist regardless of their role, responsibilities or length of service.
  3. This is a welcome follow up to Jim Smith's previous book, “The Lazy Teacher's Handbook” It focuses on key issues of teaching, delivery, student engagement self review and awareness of how to capture progress. With increasing Ofsted and Estyn focus on teachers becoming less dominant in the learning process and promoting more effective collaboration, challenge, independent learning skills and student awareness of improved learning outcomes / progress this book is essential reading to move practice to outstanding.

  4. “Making Progress is all about making sure the learning-as opposed to the teaching- takes precedence.”

    “What greater way to show the students respect for learning than by putting them at the centre and making them the focus of the learning?”

    Those aren't just two random quotes plucked out of Jim Smith's new book. They weren't chosen for their wit or pithiness and they weren't chosen to grab your attention.
    (If we'd wanted to do that, we'd have chosen this gem:

    “You can plan an amazing lesson with loads of progress in less than three minutes-¦” {quote taken ever so slightly out of context}

    Context is everything - read the book, folks!)

    No, the reason why we chose those two quotes is that they sum up the -˜Lazy Teacher' concept in a nutshell. Less formal teaching from the front means more time for learning in the rest of the classroom. The more we take the focus off ourselves, the more pupil learning will be where it's supposed to be -” the centre of the lesson.
    -˜Whole school progress -” the LAZY way' (or is it -˜Follow me, I'm right behind you'? The front cover is slightly ambiguous) is the sequel to Jim Smith's popular -˜Lazy Teacher's Handbook'. The premise of both books is that the best learning is pupil-generated and that if we stopped teaching more, our pupils might well learn more.
    As an aside, it's always amused us to think there must be some people who bought the -˜Lazy Teacher's Handbook' and were disappointed to find it wasn't quite what they'd hoped! It must have been the case - there were certainly people who took the lazy term the wrong way and didn't quite -˜get it'.
    If, like us, you enjoy being challenged and to think in new ways, you'll find -˜Whole school progress -” the LAZY way' is a provocative read.
    Not provocative like poking a tiger with a big stick (although the author apparently managed to stir up the beast in -˜Irate of Bucks' with his first book), -˜WSP-TLW' is nudge-you-in-the-right-direction-provocative. It'll gently challenge you to question your teaching methods and point you towards some alternatives that involve a little less of you and a lot more of the little people who are supposed to be doing the work in your classroom.
    -˜Whole school progress -” the LAZY way' is about progress -” how to create it, how to capture it, how to show it off and how to institutionalise it (if all schools read the section on -˜The Lazy Way to lead meetings and make progress', the world would surely be a happier place!). Jim Smith provides an abundance of lively ideas to help your pupils move on in their learning and do so as independently as possible.

    Here are three questions in particular that jumped out at us-¦

    1. How do you check progress during a lesson?

    In a couple of the most thought-provoking pages in the book, Jim Smith outlines what makes really good progress checking in a lesson. Leaving it until the plenary? Unsatisfactory. Performing a whole-class ritual (like traffic lights or thumbs up/down)? Only just satisfactory. Wow. Be honest - how often have you, at some point or other, relied on those methods thinking they were good practice? Thankfully, -˜WSP-TLW' provides lots of alternatives.

    2. Do you have a range of strategies when the cry goes up: “help, I'm stuck?”!

    -¦because if you don't, then learning progress during a typical lesson is going to be very stop-start. If your standard response is something along the lines of “OK, I'll come across now-¦” then you'll be pleasantly liberated by the effective strategies suggested (“Well, imagine you were someone who was not stuck - what would they do?” is a particular favourite!).

    3. Are you brave enough to nudge the status quo?

    That's nudge the Status Quo. Nudging Status Quo might upset their rhythm. One of our favourite passages in the book is when Jim Smith challenges the structure, content and timing of meetings to get more progress. He suggests that if something doesn't work in a lesson situation, we change it - so we should with meetings. If you're not brave enough to challenge the status quo, just buy a copy for your boss with a bookmark at p.116. “If a particular individual is genuinely not needed at a certain meeting, then simply let them get on with something else, something that will improve learning”. Superb advice.
    Contrary to what Irate of Bucks will no doubt have to say on the matter, -˜Whole school progress -” the LAZY way' is actually for hard-working, professional teachers who want to see their pupils make progress. It just so happens that the best way to facilitate this is to get out of the way.
    Jim Smith writes with humour, with Les Evans' cartoons once again providing a witty backdrop (Don't tell anyone, but we've always thought the design of these books reminds us of those swimming pool posters-¦ You know the ones? “Will patrons kindly refrain from-¦” Must be the B&W cartoons and red bubble writing. Either that, or we're going ever-so slightly potty).
    Activity titles such as-¦

    ... TWEENARIES ...

    -¦should whet your appetite for the sorts of progress-enhancing ideas Jim Smith has to offer. We would explain what they all refer to, but that sounds like too much effort. This lazy thing is easier than it sounds.

    Oh, and apparently it'll help you plan a lesson in less than three minutes.

    See the full interactive review at http://www.sparkyteaching.com/creative/whole-school-progress-the-lazy-way/
  5. Having a copy of -˜The Lazy teacher's handbook` which is so well thumbed it is in danger of disintegrating, I was eagerly awaiting the sequel. I have to say this was worth the wait.

    How many times have I said -˜Just have a go and if you are stuck put your hand up and I'll come and help you?' I don't do that anymore, I think of Jim and his Pomodoro di Pachino tomatoes (sorry but you will just have to read the book). For years I have effectively been saying to students that it's OK to do nothing! Jim talks about -˜Learned helplessness' and it suddenly all begins to make sense, why would students do the hard work themselves and make progress when the teacher is happy to do it for them if they just wait long enough?

    The book looks at how we treat pupils and gives teachers a whole range of strategies and ideas to try, it's the sort of book where you find yourself sticking in post it notes and scribbling in the margin.

    Progress paparazzi, MANAP, Prove it, cue prompter .-¦and what seems like hundreds more -” all ideas that teachers can try.

    The section about lesson observations really turns everything on its head, by having the pupils making progress the lazy way, you as a teacher are free to discuss with the observer the actual progress that is being made. The observation question menus are a really useful tool (although I do think Mr Smith may have to go on a diet soon if his fixation with food is real and not just a tool to help us to remember ï'Å )

    CPsD (self development) is great and for years I've been frustrated by staff who see CPD as the province of SLT and something that they have to endure! His questions about meetings, Lesson observations and performance management are thought provoking -” buy a copy for your school and encourage the questions. I love the idea of Stars in their eyes-¦'Today Matthew I am going to teach-¦' how refreshing would that be and how much more respect might we as teachers have for one another if we tried it?

    What really stands out for me are the two points Jim makes on P85.

    1. It's the students who are capturing the progress.

    2. At no point is the learning coming to a shuddering halt in order to capture progress.

    By following his ideas there is no longer a need for constant -˜mini plenaries' which effectively slowed down learning and frustrated both staff and students alike.

    In summing up Jim gives the moral purpose to his work, by putting students at the centre, and making them the focus of their learning we are giving them what they deserve. Thanks Jim I'm certainly right behind you.
  6. Any writer who uses the phrase “whole school progress” in the same place as the word, “lazy” has a lot to live up to; it seems like a contradiction in terms. For most of us the mention of the topic leads to thoughts of spreadsheets, data, meetings and policies, lots of policies. What Jim Smith does in this book is to set out a vision for education that has the potential to liberate both teachers and learners. More than anything it is about real progress in learning and the changes that lead to this goal. With the accountability stakes so high in education it will be a difficult thing for some teachers to let go of the learning in their classrooms in the way that this book advocates but for the sake of our children that is what we have to do. Teachers should learn to do less so that children can do more.

    The book is an easy read, though you will probably find yourself stopping quite suddenly as the force of an argument takes effect on your thinking. It contains a fund of ideas for every aspect of school life, from classroom tips to lesson observation, from performance management to how to run meetings, from professional development to pupil progress. In each case the underlying principle is that we should be doing less to achieve more; hence the “Lazy “part of the title. What Jim Smith does not sacrifice is the demand for professionalism and rigour in the classroom; he simply offers a better focus for our endeavours.

    This of course is where the challenge lies and where I believe the book will be of lasting value. Reading this book will make you feel that you have to change what happens in your classroom and in your school. However it won't just make you want to change, it will give you a host of ideas about how to start the learning revolution. This is a book that will get you excited again about teaching, about trying out some of the strategies, about doing teaching and learning in a different way.

    Best of all, this book holds out the promise of a engaging and fulfilling school experience for adults and children alike. At its heart is a vision for education where the pleasure and excitement of learning and the joy of leading children in their learning triumph over the deadening hand of standards and inspections. Most of all, this book gives committed professionals the validation they need to take back the initiative in the teaching and learning debate. This is a book that should be in every school.

  7. I haven't been able to out it down! There are some really effective methods that I can use in school to support staff and their development for the benefit of our students.
  8. Jim Smith has done it again. He has picked up the approach from his first book and pushed it right to the core of the current educational buzz word: -˜progress'.
    -˜Progress' has become one of those words which it is easy to say, but harder to treat with respect. Hence it risks being treated with lip service by pupils, by teachers and at whole school level as people look over their shoulders at those who are watching them. This book cuts through all that, and offers a wealth of ideas for treating the word -˜progress' seriously and ensuring that pupils have a chance of making some and knowing they have.

    Using the techniques of his first book, Jim offers idea upon idea in a way that is entirely accessible. The Lazy bit is again a misnomer but the book does show how thinking teachers and school leaders can make their jobs enjoyable and reap the rewards for effort that makes sense.
  9. Following the success of his first book, `The Lazy Teacher's Handbook`, Jim Smith continues his exploration of ways in which everyone involved in schools, from NQTs to senior leaders, is responsible for ensuring that learning and progress are at the heart of the business of teaching, the Lazy Way.
    Of interest to any practising teacher, the thorny issue of lesson observations is unpacked and the process of demonstrating -˜outstanding' teaching demystified. He looks in particular at what is meant by -˜progress' and how this can be planned for, and then demonstrated, within a lesson observation. Importantly, however, he doesn't lose sight of the fact that teaching is a highly interpersonal activity carrying many rewards beyond a successful Ofsted grade.
    When looking at professional development for teachers, the Lazy Way -” encouraging teachers to take responsibility for their own development -” is proposed and new approaches to CPD and performance management are suggested. At the heart of this lies the belief that teachers are highly skilled professionals with the potential to innovate, provided they are given the opportunity. 

    Still a practising teacher himself, Jim Smith writes with authority and also with respect for both the young people that he teaches and the colleagues with whom he works. Underpinned by a clearly articulated paradigm and written in a refreshing, engaging and accessible style, punctuated with examples drawn from his own work and from his extensive experience of working with a range of schools, this book speaks to anyone who is (or will be) part of a busy staff room and who seeks more than a set of tips for teachers.
  10. A welcome sequel to Jim Smith's first book, and again jam-packed with ideas for invisibly transferring the learning load onto students - this time with an emphasis on whole-school processes. Readable, amusing and quirky, I expect this to do as well as its predecessor.
  11. Being a self confessed fan of the Lazy Way and having read `The Lazy Teacher's Handbook`, seen Jim Smith deliver INSET and been fortunate to visit the home of Lazy Teaching in Clevedon, I greeted this book with a measure of excitement and a dose of Ofsted weary cynicism. Excitement at the idea of more off beat, yet enormously effective, strategies for delivering effective progress in my classroom; and cynicism at the potential for the approach to have taken on the age old appearance of simply being last year's educational fad.

    Fortunately, I am writing this with yet more excitement and not a trace of cynicism. The book and its author maintain a sense of infectious enthusiasm, wonderful humour and genuinely intelligent comment on the educational landscape in 2012, allied to a rock solid approach to dealing with the challenging concept of ensuring every child makes progress in every lesson they encounter.

    It is written in an easy, flowing style which allows you to take ideas on board and see how they relate to both current Ofsted requirements and contemporary educational thinking in general. It contains a constant stream of useful tips and strategies which can be adopted wholesale or picked carefully and adapted to your, and your class's, own style.

    The lesson model provides real scope for development in your own school, whilst maintaining its theme of children developing the capacity to understand the concept of checking their own progress. Whilst the book attempts to be light hearted and humorous, it addresses very real and very complex issues. It does this without being flippant or patronising and constantly recognises that teaching should be a job which teachers should thoroughly enjoy! 

    The book covers the use of data, effective lesson observation and the development of a whole school Lazy ethos. All are brought into the overall approach in a simple, sharp and rational manner which seems to make perfect sense. The seemingly endless, practical strategies which litter the text add to the feeling that you are reading a genuinely relevant and useful manual for teaching today. 

    The book is a thoroughly enjoyable, suitably humorous and endlessly useful read. It is a natural step from `The Lazy Teacher's Handbook` and takes the concept of Lazy Teaching out of the classroom and into the whole school. 

    Congratulations on another inevitable success, Jim.

    Mind you ... I'm sure he's nicked a couple of my ideas!

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