Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers – A Review

For our latest book club, we had to read Battle Hymn of the Tiger Teachers, and being the geeky that I am, I wrote up some notes which summarise each chapter. I thought I would share this in case it helped anyone else 🙂

All in all, a good read, even though there were certain aspects that I didn’t quite agree with like naming and shaming students or dictating a routine to parents, it was an intriguing read with many fresh strategies I would like to try. I have started to implement the whole class feedback which I hope will clear up common misconceptions and save me time by avoiding the same comments repeatedly.

Knowledge, Memory and Testing

  • Schools in England don’t value knowledge
  • Emphasis on knowledge based curriculum as opposed to skills based
  • Assumption of “lower order” based on position in Bloom’s
  • Thinking well requires knowing facts
  • Culture – theatre visits, concerts, museums etc. bridging the gap between rich and poor
  • Frequent testing, starter & reflection activities
  • Chronological teaching

Drill and Didactic Teaching Work Best

  • Chanting as a class – I say, you say
  • Focus on definitions
  • Instant feedback, low stakes tests, green pen
  • Rubik’s Cube – can’t be solved without the needed information/algorithm
  • Flipped learning, less teacher talking

How Reluctant Readers Learn to Love Reading,

  • Phonics and robust reading program for year 7
  • Text printed with line numbers – easier to follow
  • Read aloud and follow as a class with rulers
  • Recommend weekly books/ tutor time reading
  • Extra English instead of French, no point learning second language if first is not mastered
  • Sanctions for those not reading for pleasure effectively – can’t recall information in tests

Marking is Futile 

  • Books not marked
  • Next day feedback
  • Marking leads to over-dependence on teachers and squashes their ability to spot mistakes
  • Whole class comments – common WWW/EBIs
  • Build upon work/re-teaching
  • In class feedback – teacher circulates during silent writing
  • Show call – demo student work using visualizer – name and shame

Homework as Revision 

  • Benefit links to parental support
  • Practise testing and self-quizzing more effective than re-reading, highlighting and underlining
  • Long-term memory as opposed to cramming for exams
  • Over 50% of knowledge forgotten in days if not revisited
  • School-wide homework is revision
  • Knowledge organisers with important information – one pager for each unit, one per subject per evening
  • Practice books for quizzing in green pen, guided by teachers – checked for SPaG and neatness – contact home for support, less marking – right or wrong
  • Written quiz the next day
  • Weekly class quizzes – struggled, passed, excelled
  • Self-quizzing:
    • used in cover lessons and detentions
    • 30 mins a day = 100 hours over five years
  • Homework club to tackle tech problems & loudness/space at home
  • Maths – written workings as proof
  • Less subjects + longer day = less need for extensive homework

No Excuses Discipline Changes Lives 

  • Hour lost per day due to low level disruption
  • High expectations – same standards for all students
  • Pencil case given, replace at shop if lost – promotes responsibility
  • No ambiguity – clear expectations
  • Silent classroom as opposed to quiet (how quiet)
  • Sanctions imposed only with explanation – not punishment, holding to account
  • Leave classroom if not conforming – majority at stake

Bootcamp Breaks Bad Habits 

  • Timing, routine, teamwork – handing out books etc.
  • SLANT – sit up straight, listen, answer, track teacher
  • STEPS – Sir/Miss, Thank you, Excuse Me, Please, Smile
  • Self-control = strength – control of choice, reactions, response, habit and ultimately destiny
  • No logos – avoid competition
  • Trust bucket – if you don’t build trust, no one will trust you
  • Grateful for education/opportunities
  • Explain reasoning behind rules and regulations
  • Bootcamp for year 7 induction
  • Week ends with recital of two poems

Authority in Action 

  • Adult authority – follow instructions immediately without question
  • Safe and orderly environment – structure, routines, respect
  • Purpose, kindness and explanation – I might make mistakes but this is my decision.

Why Don’t We Respect Teachers 

  • Clarity of language – Can you please as opposed to do this
  • Body language and voice
  • Make students feel valued

Kindness 

  • Happy, helpful and considerate of each other
  • Mutual kindness and respect
  • Gratitude embedded in school routine

Family Lunch

  • Serve each other
  • Calm and orderly
  • New groups each day to avoid clique behaviour
  • Talking topics at lunch – stretch student knowledge

Labels Damage Children 

  • Labels used to excuse students less motivated than they ought to be
  • Intervention for language and reading difficulties

Competition is Crucial 

  • Public ranking of students per subject
  • Test results are public with failures de-merited and success merited.
  • Tough approach to prepare students for life ahead
  • Feedback given kindly and proactively to avoid demotivation

The Devil is in the Detail 

  • Shared sense of purpose and consistency in application
  • Small details matter – what side of the chair to walk around when they stand etc.

No Nonsense; No Burnout 

  • Games, technology, displays and lesson plans – enemies of workload
  • Engagement confused with entertainment in activities
  • Focus should be on learning, not the activity
  • Engaging with content – promotes excitement and motivation
  • No iPads, tablets or computer room lessons
  • No displays – learning in head, not walls
  • No parents’ evenings, no written lesson objectives, no long reports

Education, Education, Education

  • Direct instructions
  • Strong relationships with students – teacher passion
  • Teachers need to be their authentic self, not perform to expectations

Top of the Pyramid

  • Routine given to parents – bedtime, waking up time, getting ready
  • 100% support and competence from parents
  • Morning sermon at 7:30
  • We are not normal, we are above all, we are Michaela

Rethinking Initial Teacher Training

  • MTT – Michaela Teacher Training Model – one optimal pedagogy
  • No differentiation, same pace for all

Teaching Without QTS

  • 30% unqualified staff
  • Staff feel traditional ITT is too restrictive

Changing My Mind 

  • Teachers work hard to build pride within the school
  • Children feel special so believe they can achieve
  • Staff are happy – morale is high

CPD at Michaela 

  • Every teacher gets to watch others teach
  • Joint planning of lessons – what will be covered and how
  • Meetings to discuss values and purpose
  • No lesson observations, learning walks with instant, formative and actionable feedback via email – more effective and supportive
  • Shared subject knowledge

When Parents Push Back

  • School won’t be undermined by parents – never criticise the school in front of their child
  • Parents sign agreement to abide by strict routines at home
  • Parents called into school if homework is not completed
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