Education and Personal Kanban it’s a Win Win Situation

When I first talked about using Personal Kanban in the classroom it was back in December we were just really settling in to our routine in the classroom. I gave an overview of what we were doing, what we wanted to achieve, and let you know just how successful we thought it had been.

ABC’s Personal Kanban

That was last year, this is today and things have changed, dramatically.

I recently sent an email, and in that email I was talking about our classroom Personal Kanban, I mentioned that every weekend when I am preparing task cards for the upcoming week I would wonder if we would have any more Kaizen moments with our ABC’s Personal Kanban and think to myself, no we are done, there is nothing left for us to discover. Those thoughts were proven wrong time and time again, week after week.

Work in progress. Our class has indeed been a work in progress and what a progression it has become.

When we began on our evolving classroom journey we had just a few simple goals:

  • We wanted to the classroom Personal Kanban to easily understood by parents and the teachers alike.
  • We wanted the students to excel at what had traditionally been a very unappealing and difficult part of the preschool classroom activity-learning to write the letters. We wanted to excite the children about learning not think of it as a chore.

As I have told several people what unfolded we were not prepared for. I had no doubt it would be successful, but just how successful, I wasn’t sure. I saw what Personal Kanban did for me in my own private life, but would this happen for 4 and 5 year old students in the classroom too?

The question was answered every week before our eyes. Many Tuesday’s after class we would stand looking at the ABC’s Personal Kanban and discuss what had happened that day. We had many, many retrospective talks about the board, we had more Kaizen moments than I can list. It was like standing back watching a puzzle magically come together piece by piece every week.

Here are a few things we discovered by using the abc’s Personal Kanban in our classroom:

  • The excitement from the children grew every week, with each letter they completed on their task card.
  • Students were excited to share their work with other children in the classroom.
  • Students wanted to collaborate on the chalkboard writing their letters, teaching other students how to write letters.
  • Parents were excited to see their child’s progress.
  • Parent involvement was close, if not most of the time at 100%. It was not out of the norm to have a homemade task card brought to class if the student was absent on the day when the task cards came home. (see photos below)
  • Students going above and beyond what was expected of them on their task cards. (see photos below)
  • Students who were once fearful of their work and results, now exerting more effort, striving to do even better.
  • Students waiting at the board before their name is called to come over with their task card, in anticipation of receiving a sticker reward for a job well done.
  • Students excited to learn, having fun and learning without even realizing, it’s fun!

Week after week, when the students came back to class with their completed task cards, we saw revelation after revelation. What follows below are a few photographs that we took trying to capture those revelations.

This particular child’s parent expressed concern at the beginning of the year over her child’s fear of writing the letters. By the week we introduced the letter “Ii” those fears were erased!

The student above was not the only student turning over his task card to do extra work!

Student’s doing extra practice on the back of their task cards. Doing extra work on their own!

It should be noted that we are just introducing the letters to the children and getting them acquainted with using the pencil. We are not looking for perfection, we just want them to get comfortable with using the pencil.


Kaizen Moment. We give the student more examples, they in turn write the letter more too.

Up until this letter was introduced this student only wrote the letter one time on his task card every week. When we gave the student more than one example of the letter he in turn wrote the letter more. After this week, we went back to writing only one example of the letter, but this student continued on writing more than one example of the letter. 🙂

Parent made cards.

Students turning cards over, and parent made cards.

Drawing pictures on the back of task card that begin with the letter of the week.

Students not only were writing letters on the back of their task cards but they were also starting to draw pictures of things that began with the letter of the week. Not only writing the letter but RECOGNIZING the letters outside the box.

Students now writing their names on their own

Another Kaizen moment. We realized that if we didn’t write the student’s name on the card and left it blank, they would write their name on their own!

First and Last names!

Not only were they writing their first names on their own, a few weeks later they started to write their last names too!

Letter R Week

We have only 4 letters left to learn this year in our classroom. The success we have seen simply stated, is amazing. The best part of adding Personal Kanban in our classroom has been the learning journey that not only the students have been on but the one I have been on. I am proud to say that we have aided the students in building a strong foundation for their learning journey on into kindergarten, elementary school and beyond. I have learned a great deal from watching them learn. No doubt it has made me a better teacher. It has definitely been a win win situation.

This week we are wrapping up our parent-teacher conferences, when speaking with the parents this week I heard the following statements, “My child loved working on her task card it made her feel important.” “To have all the cards for my child to be able to look back and see all the letters he learned, I wasn’t just telling him, I was showing him, he was able to see all he’s learned.” And finally one parent remarked to me “He was so excited to get into class to show you his card, week after week his excitement grew, he’s been so proud of his work.”

Although I will not be in this particular classroom next year, this Personal Kanban will be used again. Will it be exactly the same, I don’t think so. I know it will evolve with the classroom and the students as they evolve, learn and continue to grow, that alone makes me very happy. 🙂 I have been brainstorming and already have many Personal Kanban ideas in the works for my new classroom next year. I will continue to track the progress, learn and grow right along with my students.

I believe strongly that even though ours is a preschool classroom this can be modified and used for any aged student in the classroom, preschool through college and beyond. As a teacher what we must do is to the keep the student engaged, be creative, help the student to be the best he/she can be. I believe that Personal Kanban will do just that.

While my example is an ABCs Personal Kanban, what I’d like you to understand is that it could very easily be a sight words Personal Kanban, a times table Personal Kanban, a book report Personal Kanban, an art project Personal Kanban, a science lab experiment Personal Kanban. The possibilities are endless.

Once you have a Personal Kanban set up for your classroom and begin to use it, you will see the students begin to become engaged seeing what their classmates are doing. They compare on the board, they collaborate and they become excited. When they see completed tasks (which means they have learned that task) they want more, *it’s in a sense brain candy.


I would like to say once again that none of this would have been possible without the guidance of Jim and Tonianne who have helped me brainstorm and given me great guidance along the way. Thank you for all of your help.


*it’s in a sense brain candy.” This is a partial quote taken from the book Personal Kanban Mapping Work / Navigating Life by Jim Benson and Tonianne DeMaria Barry The complete quote is as follows:
“When you pull that sticky note into DONE, it’s brain candy.”
It is no small secret this is my favorite quote in the book! 🙂 If you have not yet purchased this book, I highly recommend it. It’s the definitive guide on Personal Kanban.
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10 thoughts on “Education and Personal Kanban it’s a Win Win Situation

  1. Patty!

    I went to show this post to someone this morning and notice that some of the best pictures are not coming up. It’s an awesome post, but we need the pics!

    Jim

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