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Issues with my Head of Department

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by nqtDramaTeach, Feb 9, 2020.

  1. nqtDramaTeach

    nqtDramaTeach New commenter

    So I teach in a tiny department of 2 (im an NQT) and ive recently realised that my reason for wanting to quit is my head of department. No matter how much i talk to them, they are too negative about my work and never praise me, yet other teachers around the school do. They know im going through a really really difficult time to the point where I want to hand in my notice and they're still being rude. The other day they pointed out something I had not done before I had even taken my coat off in the morning. I love the school and the students and don't want to give up teaching at this school becuase of one person.
  2. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Perhaps you should try simply not talking to them.
    Fact is they may well be feeling the same ie worn down with just the stuff of schools, and if you represent somebody to them who seeks validation they might be finding it hard to "give" if it's just the two of you with a shared departmental interest.
    Try to focus on elements of the job which you are doing well, try to forgo the finer detail of, say, planning, responding to email, writing up behaviour, and focus only on your teaching.
    Then take something to your HoD which you feel went well. Just state it. "Had a good lesson today. How were yours?"

    If the taking your coat off to criticism thing persists, you could quite legitimately say to them "would we be able to discuss this at a later moment, I just need to sort myself for the kids first". Some assertion, some confidence (tough when you don't feel it) and some blunt pointing out that you have a job to do too.

    Whatever happens, don't make the mistake of venting about this poor relationship to others in the school. For many complex reasons. Venting on here is immeasurably better.

    See how it goes. Focus on the fabulous job you are doing, not the deficits, which will surely improve with time.

    Others will suggest other things, they do that here. I'm not always best at giving confidence, but that is what you need, to be sure.
    caress, steely1, hamcguin and 4 others like this.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Then don't. (Give up.)

    • You're NQT. It's a rough year for everyone. But get through it without creating waves and it's done.
    • Lots of people are encouraging. That's a big plus. What if you moved and there was nobody!
    • It's only one person.
    • They lack social graces but maybe they've got stuff going on too.
    • It's still just one person.
    • Are the kids ok?
    • The other staff are obviously ok.
    • You'd like more affirmation but you must know if you're doing your best and if the students are responsive. That's what counts.
    • You're more sensitive to it because of the other things going on. But that's not your HoD's fault.
    • There are lots of positives at this place. Yes?
    • Call it NQT blues. If anyone tells you they enjoyed their NQT year? They're lying!
    steely1, install, phlogiston and 2 others like this.
  4. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    Criticism before your coat is even off, they are lying in wait for you.
    Respond with biting sarcasm, "o good morning to you to".
    Do you are constructive criticism or just constant sniping.

    Get there before the HoD?

    I knew a chap would literally do exactly what he was asked to do.
    For example
    "make sure no one uses my bookshelf"...(how on earth is anyone supposed to do that?)
    His response, walked over the woodwork classroom (they call it DT and other names now) , he secured panels, nails and hammer, waited until he was alone and nailed panels across the bookshelf.
    No one as going to use it then, were they.

    Back to your situation.

    Your Hod might be frightened that you will replace them, or leapfrog them.
    Keep a written diary.
    If they are being rude write it down.
    As an NQT do you have a mentor at the school? Speak to your mentor about your HoD.
    If your HoD is supoosed to mentor you speak to your SLT.
    You can always speak to your union.
    caress and agathamorse like this.
  5. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    Your HOD is a bully

    Go and see your HT and tell them why you are unhappy

    A decent one will do something about it.
  6. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I don't agree, sorry.
    You cannot make that leap to stating that bullying is happening.
    The definition of a bully is somebody who persistently treats you poorly and knowingly continues despite you indicating you need it to stop.
    There is nothing (yet) in OPs scenario which proves that the HoD knows of OPs perception. It might be their job to make sure OP is doing everything up to speed, and the relentless criticism can equally be simply a lack of people skills or tact. Or perhaps a guileless transferal of the endless criticism they are receiving from above themselves. We know this happens. In fact many of us see it on a daily basis.
    Going to the HT because you don't feel good about a colleague is potentially quite damaging without speaking to the person you have issues with first.
    "Do you have a problem with me? I am left feeling unsupported and deflated by your comments, and I am finding this happens often. How can I help resolve this?"
    Has this been said directly to the HoD?
    OP actually intimates the opposite, that in fact they repeatedly approach their HoD with an expectation of approbation. That's a big ask from somebody who is busy and who is answerable for a whole load of stuff which OP might not even touch. It's a big ask from somebody with whom you share the teaching load of an entire department.
    I don't condone treating people poorly at all, but there are pro active and productive ways of attempting to deal with it which certainly do not necessitate going to a third party and "telling on them".
    Least of all to the HT. Plenty of scope in that for making things worse by being perceived as a tattle tale. It's a good route to broader marginalisation in fact.
    steely1 likes this.
  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    All sorts of things here. Lots of good advice above.
    Try not to spread your irritation round the school, it won't help.
    Try not to over-react.
    Do be assertive. "Can we talk about this when I've got my coat off and some coffee down?"
    Quietly make a list of the criticisms your hod had made, what you've done about them and (careful here) how much they matter in the grand scheme of things.
    Also make a list of the things you feel haven't been recognised and why you think this might be.
    Try to put yourself in the position of your Hod. What their priorities? How are you supporting them towards achieving a successful department?
    Is the way you're doing your job in line with departmental schemes of work or are you going your own way?
    Sometimes bosses need to be trained to appreciate their staff.
    Good luck.
    sbkrobson likes this.
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    Being in a 2 person dept cannot be easy. Try to link up with another dept and suggest you all meet together for dept meetings. Perhaps share learning approaches, ideas , strategies and everyday problems.

    If I were stuck with one other person all the time - whatever their role - it would drive me up the wall.
    suzuki1690 likes this.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Thing is...people in other departments might praise you, but they don't teach your subject and so don't know what is required. I could look in on a year 10 drama lesson and think '"wow", when a drama specialist with me hangs their head in their hands and cries as it is so poor. Not saying this is the case for you, but only those who teach your subject can really praise your teaching in a general sense.

    Speak to your mentor if it is getting you down. See if you can have your dept meeting at the same time as your NQT mentor meeting, so you have an ally.

    Zactly! Me too.
  10. venny414

    venny414 New commenter

    Sorry you're having trouble with your Head of Department. I've been there as well, having a very difficult relationship with one HoD who was a particularly nasty individual. I would love to tell you about some of them. When I requested a meeting with them to discuss the various issues we were having, they decided to shout at me accusing me of trying to 'upward manage them'. Thankfully this was witnessed by a senior member of staff. I resigned that day.

    Essentially, you need to do all you can to try and make this relationship work if you like the school and kids. This might be ignoring certain comments or trying to find the silver lining in everything. But ultimately, there comes a point where you deserve to be treated like a professional member of staff and not another pupil.

    Don't make any rash decisions or decisions out of anger, but do think long and hard about your future.

    Good luck with it all.
  11. meggyd

    meggyd Lead commenter

    I think you are being a bit precious in expecting regular praise and encouragement. Yes it is nice but the reality of the job is that this rarely happens. You are not a beginner teacher any more. You will no doubt have achieved the standards required. You now have to get on with the job and cannot expect the same input and guidance you had last year. Also remember that your hod probably gets very little time for admin in such a small department and is quite possibly on a full timetable. You are not and possibly you do not have extras like a tutor group.

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