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How can I be supportive and tough at the same time?

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by GobbyLittleMare, Apr 26, 2012.

  1. I've just been made Head of Department (a department of 7 - a tough, low-achieving school). The last proper HoD (a few years ago now, there have been staffing issues) was lovely, hard-working woman who did everything. I feel rather like the department's been a bit spoiled - if staff-members didn't do something/didn't do it right, the HoD just did it for them: "It's just easier to do it myself." So there's now this general sense amongst the weaker teachers of, "If I can't be bothered to handle this child/this problem, I pass it up."
    I'm coming into this now as the youngest member of department (27 and teaching 4 years) and I'm worried because I desperately want to be tough, and get people to be more accountable for their own classrooms. But I don't want to be a bull in a china shop and stomp in telling everyone they're **** and need to sort their lives out.
    How do I find the balance?
  2. anon8315

    anon8315 Established commenter

    I think that a lot depends on what you mean by holding people accountable and by weaker teachers.
    I have a "weaker" teacher in my department. She isn't a good teacher (she is barely satisfactory to be honest) and I know it is pointless asking her to plan a scheme of work as she would download one from the Internet and that would be it.
    As such, I produce very detailed schemes of work and resources to aid her teaching. Cop out? Probably. I probably SHOULD put together a case for capability but I don't have the heart to do it and that isn't why I became a HOD.
    I do try to show very clearly and explicitly what I want. For instance, our exercise books are a mess. I've produced a checklist of what the books should look like (e.g. date, title, lesson objective, underlined, marked regularly with targets set, APP, evidence of peer assessment, worksheets stuck in, homework set) and when I do book samples I tick off staff who have done all these things in a chart style.
    For individual children, I work in a pyramid style of I, the classroom teacher, we the department and us, the school. So if a child is underachieving we put their name on a list in our office and the teacher writes "I have (rang home, given detention, liased with HOY)" and then I as HOD add "we have spoken to child at lunch time 25/04/12, put on departmental monitoring for a week" and so on. If that doesn't work I take the child's name to my next line management meeting.
    Have a notebook (tie it up!) in your office or if you don't have one your teaching classroom and encourage staff to write things down in it. I tell my dept to do this as otherwise I forget! So they might write "We are running out of Of mice and Men texts" and at our next meeting I could smile bightly and say "great, can we also put together some resources for teaching? John and Joan, could you please take responsibility for that? Thank you!"
    Good luck but I do think always always be supportive in the first instance. Usually people respond better to this!
  3. I love your book idea! And the I, we, us thing. Definitely going to implement that one. I kind of already did something along those lines. On a list of off-target students I got teachers to write what they had done to support the underachieving child, then added a column of what we (the department) were doing. But I think it's a good idea in all cases. Thank you!
  4. oldskool71

    oldskool71 New commenter

    I understand why you have acted like this but you do need to reevaluate your postion and tackle this weak teacher. You say this isn't why you became a HOD, whereas actually it is fundamentally part of any HOD's job to tackle poor teaching. To tolerate this is not in your interests, it's certainly not in the interest of the kids she teaches and it's not actually in the teacher's interests either beacuse I am sure she would want to become a good teacher. You need to set her clear targets to improve over a specific time period and then if she doesn't let it go to capapbility. At the end of the day there are lots of other teachers who would want her job and could do it better.

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