Posted on March 23, 2016 by Lucy Newman
Starting at Michaela
I love working at Michaela. Unlike at other schools which do not have tight behaviour systems, Michaela brings out the best in the children and they are lovely and polite. At my old school I had some good classes. At Michaela there are only good classes! Every lesson is one I look forward to. At my old school there was a huge element of unpredictability to each day. I would have pupils fighting in lessons, or a pupil would have to be removed and would start arguing with me. Now I just teach and they listen. It is really quite remarkable, the children are actually listening!
At Michaela we like knowledge. For a humanities teacher the learning load is intense. I love it, I am learning so much. The truth is that if you don’t want to test yourself and learn dates and facts, then this is probably not for you. If you want to grow and change and you love ideas then it is just the most exciting place. If you do not really want to learn and do not like being made to be uncomfortable, probed and questioned, then you will find it hard here. In this postmodern, often nihilistic, morally relative society,you do not often hear the phrase “you are wrong”! You will hear that here, and it is shocking at first. If you want your views to go unchallenged, if you don’t like people telling you when they think that you are wrong, then Michaela is not for you. Michaela is not an army of clones, but there are core values. At Michaela we believe in tradition, respect, and in the authority of the adult. We do not all vote for the same political party. We are not all followers of the same religion; but there is a way of thinking and a set of values that bind us.
Teaching at Michaela is completely about teaching and learning. This was very strange at first; you realise that most of the time when you taught before, behaviour was the focus of your mind. Suddenly it is not the same game; if you have been used to lessons where the bad behaviour was very extreme then it is hard to give a child a demerit for persistently daydreaming in the lesson. It feels odd, you think and feel,“what’s the big deal they are all sitting and being quiet”. That is all you ever wanted at your old school! You feel like a fraud, you give a demerit but you do not fully believe in it. Then as time goes on you realise that if someone is consistently looking away from you during the lesson then you know that means they are not listening, and then you actually give a demerit with conviction. At first it feels silly saying 3, 2, 1 before each instruction, and it feels like you are acting out the role which is all a bit strange and foreign. After a while, with enough time, the routines you are told to carry out become like breathing, they are second nature.
The end result is the learning that goes on is just exceptional. I worried before coming to Michaela that I might miss teaching A level classes, but honestly, teaching year 8 here feels like an A level class; not because of the standard, but because of the intellectual focus and the lack of bad behaviour.
As Katharine says, ‘in the Michaela boat everyone is rowing together’ to the same destination. The ethos, the feedback, the teaching routines, the behaviour policy, they are all worth it, at the end of the day these kids are getting the best life chances and they are very happy and as a teacher I am much much happier. The pupils that will leave Michaela will be kinder people and contribute to society and you will be the best teacher you can be.