Author Archives: Joe Kirby

About Joe Kirby

English teacher, Deputy Headteacher, education writer

The Blogosphere in 2016: Roaring Tigers, Hidden Dragons

The Signal Sharpens If felt like in 2016 the signal sharpened. The education blogosphere improved its curation of quality posts. This is mainly thanks to Andrew Old’s work on the Echo Chamber. In 2015, 6,000 blogposts were published (over 100 … Continue reading

Posted in Education | 3 Comments

Mnemonics: making the forgettable memorable

Remember like an elephant I’ve always loved mnemonics. One of the first ones I learned was for the points of the compass, clockwise: Naughty Elephants Squirt Water. Why does it work so well to help young children remember? I think … Continue reading

Posted in Education | 9 Comments

No Excuses: High Standards, High Support

Our school, Michaela, has very, very high standards. We expect every pupil to arrive at school on time every day, and we expect 100% attendance. We expect every pupil to arrive in school fully equipped for learning. We expect every … Continue reading

Posted in Education | 18 Comments

Authority in Schools

One of the best questions from the Michaela Battle Hymn event was: ‘how would you draw the distinction between authority and authoritarian?’ It is a vital distinction, and one that must be disentangled rather than conflated.   My definition of … Continue reading

Posted in Education | 8 Comments

Disruption of Teaching

“You may choose to look the other way, but you can never again say you did not know.” William Wilberforce 1791 Reading Tom Bennett’s book about behaviour, based on his many years of writing for the TES about misbehaviour in … Continue reading

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  ‘Isn’t is nice when things just… work?’ One of the most memorable advertisements of the last decade was the beautiful arc and elusive sequence of the Honda machine. Somehow, it was deeply satisfying to watch. It captured the elegant … Continue reading

Posted in Education | 1 Comment

‘This book should be banned’

A provocation? Incontrovertible? Iconoclastic? A landmark? This November, we are publishing our book, Battle Hymn of The Tiger Teachers. Here is what 20 visitors to the school (and readers of an early draft) say about the book:   “An engrossing … Continue reading

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  We have a tough intake. There are some very bad habits that many of our pupils have been in, some for seven years or more, some for an entire lifetime. When I ask in one of the first assemblies … Continue reading

Posted in Education | 3 Comments

Discipline is life-changing

Discipline is vital in schools. I have seen it change the life chances of children denied it for years before they arrive at our school. Talk to those who joined the army, and they will also tell you that military … Continue reading

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Drill and Thrill

Is drill demotivating and demoralising, killing motivation and pupils’ ability to think for themselves? Far from demotivating, I’ve found carefully designed subejct-specific practice drills to be highly motivating for the pupils in school, as self-reinforcing cycles of drill and success, … Continue reading

Posted in Education, Teaching | 4 Comments