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Help! I'm sinking...

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by MrMusic, Mar 7, 2011.

  1. MrMusic

    MrMusic New commenter

    <font size="3">This is my first year as a HoD and I'm in a new school. I've not been in the teaching game long and I knew that the move from teacher to HoD would be a big one but I'm getting to the point where I feel guilty all the time if I'm not working. My lessons are suffering because I feel I'm constantly chained to my computer writing intervention strategies, development plans and budget requests. When I&rsquo;m not working on them its reports and behaviour issues. </font><font size="3">I don't feel that I'm pushing the curriculum in any direction but rather panicking into different projects. </font><font size="3">If any HoDs out there have any golden words of advice I would greatly appreciate them...</font><font size="3">I'm off to start my tutor group reports.... </font>
  2. OK - firstly it does get better! Once youhave written things once not only will it be easier in the future but you will also have the benefit of being able to amend/ improve rather than make from scratch. Do not underestimate how much time this will save you.

    Secondly, do not try to run before you can walk. Understand for yourself what is a reasonable standard/ priority. By this I mean in your first year you CANNOT do everything to the standard that you would wish it to be. Something has to give. You need to decide what that is and allow yourself not to be perfect.

    Next - DELEGATE. IF you have other people in your team. Work together on this stuff. If you are finding the administrative burden (understandably) horrific then could you ask your team to help step up up to the resourcing/ lesson planning? With a short, mefium and long term strategy they will understand where you are heading together and where you are aiming to get to.

    You also need to make sure that you are getting the support (practical and meaningful) you deserve. Are you having new team leader induction? Do you have a mentor?

    I have learnt over the years that whilst I am struggling to get everything done, on time to the best of my ability, more experienced team leaders were being a little more circumspect in their time and task prioritisation. A little experience goes a long way.

    Remember how tricky your NQT year is - this is exactly the same. You will get there!

  3. Good advice. I would add one thing: make sure all your lessons are planned and ready to go before the week (preferably the half term) has started. Make sure your photocopying is done and that you use some of your free periods for marking and assessment. With that planned, you can deal with any of the day to day sh ite that comes your way and plan to use other time for the other priorities. Not everything you are asked to do is necessary or productive. Make sure you have a grasp of what you can safely ignore or can start thinking about and work on later. Not everything needs to be done now. If you haven't had the chance to sit down with your Line Manager, do so and discuss the department's development/action/improvement plan - whatever you might call it - as this will shape your other priorities.
  4. EmmaBB

    EmmaBB New commenter

    You have to prioritise and accept it cannot be perfect. You also need to look after yourself or you're good for nothing. I'm 2 terms into my HoD post but have been at the school for over a decade so it's not a huge suprise but I'm still beyond exhausted and mentally fried, Short tempered is just the beginning of symptoms!
    You need to focus on your lessons like previous poster said. It's harder if you've not been in the game long but I'm just grateful for my ability to "wing it" with success as I'm so busy planning lessons for staff who are off or firefighting constantly. If you can't "wing it" then you need to look at sorting that out before you do all the strategies, plans and budget requests. They don't teach children. They can wait.
    Find an area you're teaching that can be improved and use it as a "showing best practice model" You can then hopefully, get staff on board as you're giving them a good resource and hopefully inspiring them to do the same. You could give the work a focus like PLTSs or questioning.
    Behaviour issues will always take up time but you won't have as many of your own if your lessons are well planned. Lead by example is always my motto. Not that is always happens. it doesn't. It can't.
    More importantly, #1: Take a night off. take no work home. Put your laptop away. Crack open a beer and empty your head. It will have far longer lasting benefits than working for another evening.
    On which point, I'm heading to the fridge myself! Good Luck, it will get easier (I hope!)
  5. When I took over my Department, just over a year ago now, there was a lot to do.
    The best choice I ever made was to condense every action plan, SEF, DDP etc. onto a document I called a one-side action plan. Anything which didn't fit, I didn't have as a priority. I tried to cover all the relevant areas, and ensure that it had a balance between coping and extending...
    It worked quite well, because it took away all of the extra paperwork, and it was an easy reference point for conversations with Line Managers etc.
    Best of luck!

  6. MrMusic

    MrMusic New commenter

    Thank you all for your advice! I was getting to the point of ignoring the problems and the advice you've given me is great. I feel a little more inspired to sort things out and not blindly-panic my way to the summer holidays!


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