How moving school often makes you a better teacher

​​​​​​​Changing school often reminds teachers how much they still have to learn, says Adam Black

Adam Black

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Being a nomadic teacher has its benefits, as I know well: I'm about to move to my fourth school in nine years.

It was never my intention to move schools as often as this. In fact, when I first started teaching I actually wanted to be in a school for long enough to teach former pupils’ children. I really liked and still do like the idea of that – being somewhere long enough to feel fully part of a community, but that’ll have to wait for a good while yet.

I had a busy probation year – a whirlwind in every way – but always knew that I wouldn't be in the same school for any longer than that year. I actually didn't want to stay any longer as I was keen to get “out there” and see how I could cope with new circumstances, without all the support around me that I’d become used to.

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I landed on my feet and, following five years in a school where I was really happy, a change of leadership made me consider moving somewhere new. It was the best decision I ever made.

A change of setting made me realise how much I still had to learn about teaching and learning and, in actual fact, how much I had to learn about children and young people. A change of practice – there was a focus on observation and I increasingly saw the benefits of people observing me and my work – was refreshing; new ideas were forthcoming and it really developed me as a teacher. My skills were wanted and any expertise I might have was really utilised and expanded on.

It was refreshing. This isn't to say that I didn't feel like I was growing as a practitioner in my previous establishment, but it made me realise how much more I could grow if I took a chance and moved to a new workplace – that was quite an important moment in my career.

I recently met a former headteacher who is back doing supply. She was amazing to work with and had a vast amount of experience. She told me that she had learned more about teaching since being out on supply than in her 30-plus years in school management. She wishes, in hindsight, that she'd moved around a lot more and met different colleagues earlier on in her career. She now tells young teachers that she means not to stay anywhere longer than five years: get yourself out there and experience new children, new ideas, new colleagues and get better everywhere you go.

For me, I'm moving local authority soon. It's a move I'm nervous about, as I've only ever known Glasgow as an employer, but I'm optimistic. It's another chance to develop and become better. Who knows, maybe I'll find my 30-year school.

But for now, I'm just really looking forward to the challenge of starting somewhere new – and all the potential that brings.

Adam Black is a primary teacher in Scotland. He tweets @adam_black23

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