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Bushels? Avoid them

Advice for seasoned practitioners

A friend of mine tells the story of how he became a primary deputy. An experienced classroom teacher with responsibility for PE, he found himself organising the annual city-wide schools swimming gala. On this prestigious evening at the city's pool, with heads present, together with a good selection of local authority movers and shakers, he was in the spotlight - loudhailer, tracksuit, clipboard - very visibly doing a good job. "It was as good as an interview," he says. "In fact, when I did get an interview, it was a formality."

What he'd done, quite inadvertently, was break through the professional isolation that can hold back the most conscientious of teachers, and made himself visible to the professional world outside his classroom and his school.

As a frontline teacher you spend most of each day in a classroom, looking after children. It's significant that if you put a group of teachers together on a course they'll say how they appreciate the chance to meet colleagues from other schools.

However, if you want to develop professionally, it helps to work in a world that extends beyond the classroom. There are ways of achieving this.

Teachers of the same subject often meet, perhaps through subject associations or within their authority. Don't ignore such networks. They eat into precious time, but if they push back your horizons, they will be worth the investment.

Training opportunities are expanding all the time - it's one of the great success areas. When you're deciding between courses, add to your criteria the possibility of working with others beyond your own school.

Collaboration is one of the themes of the General Teaching Council's new Teacher Learning Academy project now being piloted.

Then, if you feel you're doing something interesting and innovative, ask the head to invite the adviser to see you in action and add some ideas.

Effective advisers look for good practice that can be spread around. All sorts of opportunities can come from that: secondments, consultancies, acting leadership posts in schools with difficulties.

Above all, don't undersell yourself or hide your light. Make things happen.

Teacher Learning

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