Train Visual Ltd was established in 2011 to improve learning through better teaching. Our ‘HOW2’ web app contains step-by-step, visual guides to great teaching techniques that, together with a suite of social learning tools, enable educators to quickly and easily learn, together, precisely HOW-to create effective learning experiences.
HOW2s are used globally in schools, Further Education, Higher Education, Independent training providers and public organisations such as the UK’s Ministry of Defence.
CEO Ian Harris started his teaching career in 1988. He has made it his mission to create innovative ways to empower the educators he works with.
To improve learning through better teaching, so that more learners can access future opportunities in life, employment and learning.
HOW2s are based on three key ideas
Learners are entitled to access the curriculum taught. Teachers are entitled to the support they need to make it happen.
We make it simple for educators to learn so that they can more easily adapt their teaching to meet the needs of their learners.
Specific step-by-step guides tackle the question “so how, exactly, do I do that?”
Who We Are
Meet the team
…once I got in the classroom — boy, was it thrilling. I felt very humble; it was a wonderful gift.
I qualified as a teacher in 1998 and was a deputy head aged 27. Around that time I was also working as a volunteer in London as Head Coach for Landmark Education’s Self Expression and Leadership Programme. I wrote some books and gradually left teaching to become an educational trainer. I used my coaching and teaching skills to work alongside educators in their classrooms. This added meat to the bones so to speak of leading more than 1,500 training days. In 2009 I was asked to introduce more active (their words) Evidence Based approaches to Teaching (EBT) to the UK Ministry of Defence. This accelerated the move to put our work on EBT online. how2s.app was launched on 11/11/11.
What is something leaders have to deal with that you strive to resolve?
Supporting teachers to be the best they can be is an incredibly complex task, but an essential one if learners are to access the curriculum being taught. Most of the leaders we work with are looking to support FT, PT and Sessionals across all subjects on multiple campuses. So if we (Train Visual) can succeed in helping the leaders to succeed, this will trickle down to benefit managers, coaches, teachers and ultimately the learners that we are all committed to serving.
Is there anything that surprises you about working in education?
I’m still occasionally surprised when I come across someone who is clearly in the wrong job! If you don’t like the challenge of “so how am I going to make sure they ‘get it’“, if you don’t enjoy teaching others, regardless of whether they are children, young adults or adult learners and if you don’t get personal satisfaction from doing this job, don’t do it.
Do you have a favourite quote?
It always seems impossible until it is done.
— Nelson Mandela
If you hadn’t trained to be a teacher what would you have done instead?
I never set out to be a teacher. I loved Uni so much I stayed on for another year to do a PGCE, not because I wanted to be a teacher but so I could be with my girlfriend at the time. But once I got in the classroom — boy, was it thrilling. I felt very humble; it was a wonderful gift. I think this is why I find it hard to understand why some people carry on doing it if they don’t love it. And as I loved it so much I guess it was inevitable that I’d stay in the sector in some role or other. What would I be instead? A comic book illustrator? I read hundreds of comics as a kid. Or a darts player, a ski instructor or a cricket coach — all sports I love.
I love it when I hear about the success that our community experiences through using the HOW2s.
Between 2012 – 2014 I created and headed the Teaching Skills Academy (TSA) at Abingdon and Witney College. The TSA was the first of its kind in the country and resulted in the college moving up an Ofsted grade. For our work we were awarded the accolade of a Beacon Award for peer coaching.
At the same time, I also headed Higher Education, leading the QAAHE Review (one month after Ofsted visited). All UK expectations were met and, furthermore, the College was commended for the enhancement of the students’ learning opportunities.
What is your greatest professional achievement?
For years I’ve been very fortunate in my various roles to be able to support teachers and managers, which is what I love to do! I’m now able to continue to do this through my current role, but on a much larger scale, whether it’s a college in the UK or an Initial Teacher Training University in California.
Why did you want to work for Train Visual?
I heard great things about the HOW2s, so I called them into the college I was working at. This is when I met Ian Harris. I was so impressed by him and the HOW2s that I couldn’t stop thinking about it for two weeks.
So, I decided to pick up the phone to speak to Ian. I told him I had ten very happy years at the college, and I have never done this before, but I would like to come work for him at Train Visual. I’m so glad I made that decision as this is the most rewarding job I’ve had.
What is the most rewarding aspect of your role?
I love it when I hear about the success that our community experiences through using the HOW2s. I stay in regular contact with the leads and listen to their highlights. I get a real buzz out of hearing how they have turned things around for their managers, teachers and, of course, their students with using the HOW2s.
Do you have a favourite hobby?
I really enjoy being creative and have way too many hobbies which revolve around many different crafts! Also, I’m about to bring home an eight-week-old Labradoodle (Benji) and become a first-time dog owner. So when the time is right I’m looking forward to travelling about the UK with him (and my husband, of course)!
I really believe that the product we offer has the potential to make an enormous difference to the life chances of young people.
I worked as an Office Manager in the reinsurance and banking sectors of the City for 15 years before joining Train Visual. I’ve been with the company since its inception.
What is the best thing about being a part of Train Visual?
My role is varied and I get to see projects through from start to finish. I really believe that the product we offer has the potential to make an enormous difference to the life chances of young people. I volunteer as a scout leader and feel strongly that it is vital we give our young people the confidence they need to achieve.
Is there a particular question you get asked the most about the HOW2s?
Yes, I’d say it’s “Why wasn’t this available to me when I did my teacher training?”.
What is the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
Be nice to people on the way up, because you might meet them again on your way back down!-
If you could have a new talent/skill, what would it be?
I am an addicted reader and am in awe of authors who can draw you into their world. I’d love to write a bestseller, but I don’t think Steinbeck has anything to worry about!