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Help with a difficult situation

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by mjg2005uk, Feb 16, 2011.

  1. I recently joined a large (10 members of staff) department last summer. I beat two internal candidates to the position. One was the head of year 7 and the suject teacher (science) and the other was the head of biology and second in charge.
    I arranged to meet my dept in the summer term etc, and they told me that certain things needed changing. I said id come back in prior to the end of term to begin working with them and possibly begin changing things, if they wanted to....... (i was going to wait until i had settled....) when i came in the second time, they said that it was too late now and too keep things the same as it "has been that way for a while now". I thought ok, I dont want to change too much too soon, and thought i would use the time to assess the dept and curriculum etc, to make changes slowly but surely.

    Anyway, 6 months on........ every little problem is my fault. Behaviour problems, coursework problems, curriculum problems, and it all stems from these 2 people! They constantly turn their nose up at ideas, yet offer no real ideas of their own (except when they get a good deal, ie easy teaching etc) and forget that i was willing to change things before i started in time for the new term!!!
    one of the these members of staff just constantly moans at everything little thing that is wrong, (even trivial things) they neglect their duties, and i dont feel supported by these so called experienced members of staff. Ive walked into the office when they have been talking about me, and then it goes quiet when i enter.
    SLT are aware of the problems, and they are fairly supportive, but these two are literally making work a living nightmare. i hate going in at the moment. Whilst i appreciate that it part of my job and not there to be liked, im not paid to feel like this. ive tried asking for opinions, to include them on how to improve the subject and dept, but they offer nothing. or just give stupid remarks and replies.
    They are good teachers, but simple things like clearing up classroom and practical equiptment like glasses, stools, books, etc, after lessons is not being done. nor is meeting parents of pupils who are behind on courseowrk or misbehaving in lessons, recording of detentions and chasing up of students who fail to attend. It is left up to junior members and myself.
    And when i try to bring the matter up i get a load of abuse of how they are to busy etc (in alot worse language!!!!!)
    Im begining to wish i hadnt taken the job........
    i dont know how to solve the issue and i am getting more and more down each day. Ive had a pretty bad time this year (2011!!!) already losing my mum and sister and I also miscarried, (to which i got moaned at for having time off by these two people). i dont know how much more i can take!!!!
    rant over!!!
    any help and advice would be greatly appreciated!!!!!!
  2. I think you have tried to do the right things. However, as they are not playing ball, it's time to get a bit tougher. I'd suggest the following (and ask for other TES-sers to tell me and the OP if they think it would work.): I'd go for a formal meeting with each of the problem teachers (not together but in the same period so there is little if any chance for them to confer and talk about it) to discuss exactly what it is about their professional behaviour that you find difficult and ask them to explain why they have responded in such a way. Keep it factual and professional and avoid anything that touches upon feelings. Remind them that you were willing to listen and that they had suggested things needed changing when you were appointed and that they have changed their mind. Ask what was so important to them then and why it isn't important now. Ask why they have been negative about some of your decisions. If that doesn't bring them into line, I'd suggest a similar meeting with secretarial support to minute the proceedings and when they complain, my response would be to tell them that their attitude and responses haven't changed and you want to make sure that everything discussed and agreed is accurate. Go on the offensive. I'd also think about how to challenge their negativity in meetings: they are negative in meeting and you push them (uncomfortable though it will be for them, the rest of the faculty and you(?)) until they either accept you are have a point or give you a valid alternative point of view. I suspect I'd be more assertively aggressive that you have been or want to be.
  3. Yes, tackle them head on. Your second needs to be told how they can support you and the rest of the faculty and that you want to support them in things they want to lead on. Do pick up on the things that your second should be doing and isn't, e.g. overseeing behaviour referrals at key stage 3. Good luck
  4. Is there a school-wide list of the responsibilities of "a teacher", "a second-in-department", "a head of department"? As a newcomer, you would be quite entitled to ask this question and then set about putting things in order. You have tried to be pro-active and you have tried to go with their ideas. Neither has worked well. Once you have a list of who-is-paid-to-do-what, you can rasonably ask them to do what is on their job list.
    Things like seeing parents after school and listing detentions etc would, in many schools be a normal duty of anyone but in your school it may be different so "check before you expect".
    If there are things you want to change, one other tactic would be to list the issues you would like to look at over the next year. Invite comments from the whole department and offer the chance to anyone who would like to lead one of these changes. If nobody volunteers to offer help, then you can just go along through your plans as you see fit. If someone offers help, welcome them with open arms and support them.
    Ultimately, if something is big enough to fight over, you may need to enlist support of SLT. If the problem is really that big, then performance management etc can be used. Remember, though, that if you are going for the stick rather than the carrot, things may get worse before they get better so make sure that you are sure of the facts before you start.
    Also remember that SLT picked YOU for the job...they must have believed you were the right one for it.
  5. September

    September New commenter

    I am going through a similar situation with my dept. I would advise you to get SLT involved straight away. I totally appreciate the advice you have been given regarding individual meetings but nip it in the bud with your SLT line manager. When I met with the troublesome members of my team on a 1-2-1 basis they went and reported me to their union, both of them claimed bullying and depression. Regardless of what we do as subject leaders we do not have the authority to actually do anything. The doing has to come from the HT/SLT and they will avoid any thing difficult. I do hope you have a supportive SLT. I spoke to my union head office (not my school rep) and got very good advice about how to go about things.
    Stick to your guns, the students are who we are there for and those staff should be reminded of that. A lot of it may be jealousy. Don't give up and Good Luck. Keep the forum posted on what happens.

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