Kagan Training for Teachers in Modern Learning Environment

The Challenge


An MLE had been formed at the end of the previous year with a new team of teachers due to start at the beginning of the year. The teachers had not worked together previously or in an MLE before, and were anxious about how they could bext meet the needs of their students, especially their high number of behavioural, and Priority Learners.

These were the concerns:

  • Relational trust between teachers was an issue
  • Classroom teaching was quite traditional and rigid
  • Teachers had a deficit mindset around the more difficult students
  • Classroom culture was non-inclusive and deficit
  • Priority Students would not cope with the MLE
  • Behaviour problems would escalate with the less traditional environment
  • Special Needs students would feel lost and could act out
  • Teachers would have to collaborate around social and academic expectations, planning, curriculum delivery, assessment, sharing resources, and timetabling
  • Students wouldn’t transition well between teachers and spaces
  • The noise level would interfere with learning and other teachers

The Solution

In meeting with the staff and discussing the concerns with the SLT, we decided to implement Kagan Cooperative Learning.

Our hunch was if all teachers were using the same pedagogy for curriculum delivery and developing classroom culture, then many of the concerns would be addressed with one strategy.

Action Plan:

All staff to attend Days 1 and 2 Cooperative Learning:Structures for Active Engagement

Three Key Areas

  1. Cooperative learning for active engagement, social and communication skills
  2. Creating a Brain-Friendly Learning environment
  3. Team formation


  • Two days of training at the beginning of the year
  • Coaching and modelling for each teacher
  • Support with team formation for each teacher
  • Facilitate and structure collaborative planning sessions
  • Train SLT in collaborative problem-solving and decision-making structures and processes
  • Provide resources to support implementation and uptake


All teachers participated fully in PLD with strong uptake. With all students in learning teams in their ‘homeroom’ and other classes (cross-grouping), there were very few problems with transitions. Priority Learnings knew what to expect with each teacher as there was consistency in curriculum delivery and expectations around behaviour and social skills. Classbuilding and Teambuilding were timetabled in as part of each week, which created connections between all students, resulting in a positive and inclusive culture across the MLE.

Teambuilding with the teachers, along with collaborative processes, meant they felt respected, and accepted and developed into a supportive team. By working collaboratively for planning and assessment, they were able to draw on each others strengths and learn from each other. Having a shared language around pedagogy was a real benefit, for them and the students.

In previous years, there had been a large number of ‘red card’ incidents in the senior school, and over this year, evidence showed that these had halved in number. Students were more engaged, with their basic needs being better met by the teachers.

Classroom teaching moved from a more traditional model and more towards a model that developed student agency, cooperation, character, Key Competencies, leadership skills, and self-regulation. Special Needs students felt included and safe, due to Classbuilding, Teambuilding, and being seated in Kagan teams  – in every class. With the build in support for these students, teachers were able to focus on teaching and less on managing behaviour. Transitions for these students were easy and stress-free.

Kagan Cooperative Learning made a genuine difference for the setup of this MLE, and while it took a few weeks to settle in, by the end of the first term, it had moved from being a bit ‘wild west’ to being an environment focused on learning, and developing every child to their maximum potential.

Students from this MLE arrived at their intermediate school, asking the teachers why they weren’t using Kagan – praise indeed, and testimony to the benefits it provides for students.

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