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managing awkward staff

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by lapicarde, Mar 10, 2012.

  1. lapicarde

    lapicarde New commenter

    To all of you out there who are Heads of Department , please could you advise on how to deal with awkward staff of the 'subtle' type , i.e this person 'forgets' I have sent her e-mails with specific deadlines to hand things in , do stuff etc...When confronted , she is usually apologetic but I know that really she is making a point and she systematically fails to meet all deadlines , she is the only one in the dept who doesn't do things I ask , some of which haven't got a deadline , for instance , providing display work for open evenings ; she always seems to have an excuse for not doing what I want and because she is so subtle about it , it is gnawing at me amnd it is very frustrating ; I have just offered her a meeting to discuss issues and she has refused that too so am at the end of my tether here ; would really appreciate advice from you guys , I am sure many of you will have similar characters in their departments.
  2. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    The first rule is don't make it personal.
    You are the HoD and you have a job to do, as does she. Make sure that the deadlines are set and also keep your head informed about what is going on. The next time you issue a deadline, cc the head as well. When she doesn't meet the deadline inform the head about it. If she continues to not meet deadlines then go and see the head because, ultimately, it is his or her responsibility to make sure that reasonable deadlines and expectations of staff are adhered to.
  3. I agree, make sure everything is written down and keep copies of any emails or deadlines that you set her. Keeping your line manager informed will make it easier if you have to take things further. It is unacceptable for her to think she can get away with not doing things, particularly as I am sure the tasks you ask her to do are part of her job description!! The final action would be, once you have enough evidence, to start a capability procedure against her if it gets serious, although it would be preferable to avoid this if possible!
  4. I have a lot of sympathy with this situation. I have a similar one where my colleague is not apologetic at all and tries to hide her issues and lies about them. She is always forgetting things, missing deadlines, not keeping her classroom tidy - I could go on forever. I have kept a list of things she has failed to do but am not going to my line manager yet as I want to avoid capability. No idea how to handle it though - I have had a meeting to discuss issues. Has not made a difference. I just wish one morning she would wake up competent!
  5. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    You know what you have to do, you even mentioned it in the post, but you are refusing to because of what it could mean.
    So, let me ask you a question. Would you accept this person as a teacher for your children? If not, then why is it acceptable when it is someone elses child? If you would accept this person, then why are they causing you problems?

  6. This sounds completely unacceptable! I really sympathise with your situation, it must make life very difficult. I would expect your head to be doing more to deal with this, and I am surprised there have been no complaints from parents or students!!
  7. Its all about evidence. If you can build up enough evidence to prove what he is and isn't doing then you can push your head into doing something. Keep copies of emails you have sent him with deadlines, comments he has made verbally or in writing. Carry out book monitoring and photocopy examples of work that have not been marked. You need as much as you can, and then you send copies to the head and if necessary to the governing body. Show that you have set him deadlines and targets that he has not met and then you can hopefully push this forward.
  8. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    I'm not normally one to utter the b word, but this is bullying, loud and clear. Contact your union and involve management into your complaint. Imagine this situation was happening to a colleague of yours, or a pupil, and what advice you'd give them, then follow it for yourself. You are slowly being belittled into submission, do not give in.
  9. Don't cancel meetings - he'll think he's winning! No, arrange MORE meetings! Don't take it personally, just do your job, smile and document everything he does/doesn't do.
  10. If he's not marking books then he's not doing his job. That's a capability issue and slt should step in - is there a formal process to go through at your school for incompetent teachers? Try starting a new thread to gauge more opinions and post on smt to see what they think.
  11. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    Yes you do. Your union. Shunning you from the rest of staff is bullying.
    Be very clear about expectations. It's not enough to say "books must be marked regularly" - what is your marking policy? What constitutes marking? How many pieces of work are expected per pupil, and how often should they be marked? You need to establish crystal clear measuring standards so that everyone is on the same page, NQT and experienced (and yourself, of course!). That way, there is nowhere to go when he doesn't do what the whole department is asked to do.
    I am puzzled by the lesson plan issue though. I've never looked at my department's lesson plans, other than during observation lessons. Pupil questionnaires, learning walks and book samples should tell you whether the lessons are good enough or not. In my NQT year I didn't have to show my lesson plans to anyone either. Do you ask everyone to show them to you? And in which case, are you prepared to show yours too? I think it may be going a little far...
  12. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    How about looking at the situation in a different way.
    What if he really has no idea what you mean when you talk about things such as plenaries and lesson plans? What if his initial training really was horrendous?
    The situation would then be that he is afraid of his lack of knowledge and what he doesn't know. This could easily manifest itself into an aggresive atitude towards you as the alternative is that he has to admit to you that he doesn't know and he may very well be afraid of getting fired.
    What I would do is go and see him and tell him that you are there to help him, no matter what. That whatever learning takes place will stay confidential between the two of you, that you are not there to try and get him fired but to help him become a great teacher. I would start by observing lessons and inviting him to observe yours. You have to show that you trust him, difficult as it may be.
    To me, the bottom line is that he is a member of your department and, as a HoD, you also have a duty to look after his interests however obnoxious he may have been till now. Those interests may very well be that he finds another occupation or that he becomes a valuable member of the department.
    It might not work, but you have tried everything else, so why not this?
  13. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Forgive me for saying this, but you need to be a lot more proactive. You have a number of choices and you need to decide which one you are going to take and then get on with it, even to the bitter end if needs be, because as it is, your department is falling apart around your head ( based upon my understanding of what has been written. If I am wrong then my apologies and ignore the rest of this! ).
    What alternatives have you got? As far as I can see, you have two main ones: Get him fired or not. If he is fired then the problem has gone away, but it doesn't look as if that is going to happen, which means that he stays.
    Your issue now is what are you going to do about it? Are you going to let him rip your department apart from the inside? By not challenging his behaviour, by almost consciously responding to his provocations you are not leading the department but being reactive. You need to start taking control. Start by making sure that the meetings are of a realistic length and if he doesn't like them challenge him on them. If he wants to know why there are meetings it is because you decided that there would be. End of story.
    On the note of him needing help and assistance, it is very unlikely that he will come to ask you for help or admit to you that he needs it. Irrespective of how he has been, he will have pride in himself and it is difficult for him to accept that he needs help.
    You don't ask if he needs help with his marking, you make sure he does it with you. You don't ask him about the displays in his classroom, you go to his room with him and make sure that the displays are set up. The same with assessments, you do them with him. It is a lot of hardwork and it is rather time consuming but you have to take the lead. You cannot expect other members of your department to do something that you are not willing to do yourself.
    As a HoD you have to show leadership. Without it, the department will flounder.
  14. I completely echo the sense in Karvol's posts.

    It seems to me that there is a lot of 'asking' of whether he needs any help, an offer which he is declining. You need to meet with him again and not ask if he is ok but put forward your concerns and put a plan in action as to how to resolve it. It would seem that he doesn't appear to think there is a problem, you need to clearly highlight that there is but support him in how to resolve the issues you raise.

    This is irrelevant, he doesn't employ you, the school has judged that you are fit for the post, if he doesn't like it he can jog on.
    I would pull him to one side afterwards and express your concern, i'm not sure if you are suggesting that he is being rude to you, if you are then you need to address this, you certainly shouldn't be afraid to do so.

    I would also suggest that you ask for some of your posts and/or this thread to be pulled as you have divulged far too much information about one of your staff IMO. I can't imagine how he would feel if he read this, being in the public domain and all that.

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