We believe in teaching from the front of the classroom. We believe manipulation of knowledge in the classroom leads to independent thinking and creativity. This means that the teacher drives the bus and the pupils get on it: the teacher leads the learning. The teacher knows the destination of the bus and has a plan of how to get every everyone there. It is important for ALL pupils to be on the bus.
Knowledge needs to be flexible. This requires questioning, analysis and discussion of the knowledge taught. We do lots of ‘turn to your partner’ but we do not do group work. This is because we believe group work would undermine the teacher’s role as driver of the bus.
We use knowledge organisers sparingly and in some subjects, we don’t use them at all.
Our lessons are engaging but their aim is not to engage. Their aim is to inform and ultimately develop critical thinking. Our lessons are not filled with rote-learning although we do have memory as a focus. We believe if something has not been committed to long-term memory, then it hasn’t been learned.
CPD for staff
CPD for staff starts as soon as the teacher is appointed. We ask new staff to read numerous articles and books. We invite them in for meetings in the lead up to their start at Michaela. We also encourage them to begin teaching differently and have higher standards in their current posts. The idea is to onboard new staff in ‘the Michaela way’.
We have an open-door culture where we are all learning from each other all of the time. Teachers do quick observations of each other (less than 15 minutes) and then feed back. This will happen several times in a week.
New staff say that by half term, they ‘find their groove’ and feel as if they are on their way to becoming Michaela teachers. By the end of the first term, they tend to be properly settled into the role where much of what we do comes to them automatically.
Staff at Michaela tend to reject most of the accepted wisdoms of the 21st century. This ranges from the way that we teach, how we deal with SEN pupils, our expectations of parents, our zero-tolerance attitude to bad behaviour and our high expectations of professional dress at all times from both pupils and staff.
Michaela staff work hard. But they do not waste their time doing useless things. Everything they do has impact on the lives of the children they teach.
To join Michaela is to become part of a family. Families rally round when times are tough. Families help each other out and are honest with each other. Every day, we eat a family lunch together with our pupils. We are always thinking hard about how we can become the best we can be for our colleagues, parents and pupils.
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