Powering the Global Education Conversation: About edCircuit

What Is a Thinking School?

In this interview with Dr. Kulvarn Atwal, author of The Thinking School: Developing a Dynamic Learning Community (John Catt Educational), you’ll hear why teachers who are skilled at facilitating student-led learning can create a school where deep thinking and high engagement are the norm. Atwal describes actions leaders can take to create such a school, and explains what it looks and feels like when a school is not living up to the ideals of a “thinking school.”

How does the Thinking School compare to the schools you’ve led or worked in? While listening to the interview, reflect on the questions below to determine actions you can take to bring these strategies to your teachers and students:

In a Thinking School, all teachers are engaged in research and reflection on their practice. Do most teachers in the US engage in both of these elements?

Atwal is a strong proponent of formal, ongoing professional learning for all teachers. How do the PD programs he describes compare to those in your school? Do you agree that it’s difficult for educators, who are often isolated from peers, to engage in enough informal learning?

In a Thinking School, Atwal says, every member of staff is seen―and encouraged to see themselves―as a leader. Do all faculty and staff in your school feel that they’re seen as leaders? How do we set the expectation that everyone should take on a leadership role?

Learn more about Kulvarn Atwal’s book, The Thinking School, and more great John Catt Educational publications, by visiting us.johncattbookshop.com 

About Kulvarn Atwal

Dr. Kulvarn Atwal is currently executive headteacher of two large primary schools in the London Borough of Redbridge. Throughout his career, Kulvarn has developed a particular interest in teacher professional learning. He has asserted that the best teachers are the reflective practitioners who engage in professional dialogue and reflective practice.

Kulvarn completed his doctorate in education in 2016, and his thesis focused on the development of an understanding of the factors that influence teacher engagement in professional learning activities. He has delivered presentations and seminars nationally and internationally on both the promotion of teacher learning, and the development of expansive learning environments for all staff within primary schools. He has just published his first book, The Thinking School: Developing a Dynamic Learning Community (John Catt, 2019).

Follow Kulvarn on Twitter @Thinkingschool2

The Thinking School by Dr Kulvarn Atwal


Dr. Berger is one of many industry education correspondents for the Mind Rocket Media Group, An educator and former school administrator. His video interview work and conversational podcasts have been featured in various media outlets. He often hosts education panel discussions and develops strategic content. As an academic Dr. Berger is a guest lecturer at Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management. A former assistant principal, he has been an adjunct undergraduate professor and developer of online college courses. He is a passionate Detroit sports fan who has also adopted Nashville sports teams as his own. 

Contact the Mind Rocket Media Group if you are interested in an industry interview and a placement on EdCircuit.

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