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Tips of the trade

No doubt you've been observed by senior colleagues, and maybe even watched some lessons yourself. And your mentor is probably telling you to act naturally - as if they weren't there. Fat chance.

Don't try anything toospectacular. Stick to well-established routines. Even the dullest observer will notice whether your class is not usually expected to raise their hands to answer questions. And a cursory flick through an exercise book will show whether this is the first time they've ever copied down a lesson objective. I'm sure you can imagine the response to "and this week's homework isI" if it's the first time you'veremembered to set any.

You may find that pupils behave better which could be a problem. They may be more subdued,making discussions seem flat. With a compliant class, you may find yourself steaming through the planned work. It is daunting - and stressful - to realise that you'll have everything finished with at least 10 minutes to spare.

Forewarned is forearmed - and the answer lies in good practice and planning. Lesson observation is not a one-way process; neither is it only undertaken for NQTs. One teacher wrote recently: "Watchingcolleagues work has beenenlightening, a privilege and worth every penny that it doesn't cost."

So take advantage. All the above is worth remembering in inspections and performance management.

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