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Not cut out for it

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by lilybleue, Nov 17, 2014.

  1. lilybleue

    lilybleue New commenter

    Hello there

    I am facing a bit of a dilemma. I am a young subject leader (27 years old, NQT + 3)

    I started a new role as subject leader in a new school this September. It is a very big school, and my department has got 10 members of staff.

    I am struggling, I was up for the challenge, I am organised, etc etc, but I am not enjoying the Head of department role for one bit, and it is affecting my job as a teacher. I haven't got a clue about DDPs, budgets, massive amount of data, and these things bore me as well.

    I feel like if I focus on the hod role then my teaching/planning and marking is rubbish, if I focus on my teaching/etc then my HOD things are rubbish ad everyone is judging me, and if I try and do both I will end up dead or off for stress/depression, and without my partner because there is too much work.

    I don't know what to do. Does it get easier? Does it get more enjoyable? Should I tell the headteacher? Ask to "just" be a teacher?

    Help, I'm at my wits' ends...

  2. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    You have probably become a HoD too soon. 3 years isn't long to master teaching and gain the knowledge and skill to become a HoD.

    Did you not know what the job entailed before you applied?

    There are some shortcuts that come with experience.
  3. scientist555

    scientist555 New commenter

    This is the part I find most concerning about your post. If these things bore you then you will not thrive in the job as HoD.
  4. VeronicAmb

    VeronicAmb Occasional commenter

    It's a shame that you are not enjoying your job role. However, I do agree with Wanet, that you have become a HoD way too soon in your career. I was just a normal, English teacher for about 8 years before (with a form and etc) I became a postholder for the KS5 Curriculum. After 3 years of being in that position, I am now Head of Department; English, Media/Film in a different school from my last.

    It is hard, I won't lie. But, the fact is that you haven't much time to develop your teaching yet which is why you are finding the balance hard. A previous colleague of mine was Head of Year by the time she came into her 3rd year of teaching. She did this for about 3 years before moving to Subject Leader, Humanities. I think it all depends on the person. Maybe you're not up for the role of being HoD just yet?

    What is your contract like? Is it for the whole academic year before you can be released from your role, or is it by term? My contract used to be by term until I made it each academic year. Could you not step down and become the Assistant Head of your department instead?

    I do think it's quite strange that you have not had any other responsibilities before moving up the ladder like being in charge of a key stage curriculum, or an assistant achievement coordinator or something like that before taking on HoD.

    Another suggestion would be to delegate your responsibilities to other postholders in your department. In my department, I have Subject Leaders for English and another for Media/Film. Below that TLR, we have teachers who are responsible for Key Stage 3,4 and 5 curriculum. Is there no-one below you you could pass your duties to? Being HoD isn't all about just doing everything on your own.

    For instance, I don't analyse all the data from each year group and etc. I get one of the KS teachers to collect the data, then send it to the Subject Leader in English to analyse it. Then I will look at it see what is there and then go from there and discuss what needs to change and improve and stay the same etc etc with her. Her job role is to "assist the Head of Department in your subject specialism" (her's being English). Therefore, at the start of the year, we sat down on INSET day and discussed what things she needs to do throughout the year to help keep the department up and running. Perhaps you could do this? If you don't have a 2 i/c (which you should do), you should perhaps go to your line manager and get them to discuss this with the head teacher to see if they can start advertising after the Christmas break.

    My previous school did this. At the time, there wasn't a 2nd i/c so they advertised for one to join us in Easter. Didn't find one until the end of the academic year which was quite a pain because from being 2nd i/c it's KS5 responsibility, so I had to take on both roles. But, you should definitely be getting more support from your 2nd i/c and if not, I'm afraid you're going to have to be quite stern with them to say s/he needs to pull their weight and support you as that is what they are there to do.
  5. primenumbers

    primenumbers New commenter

    I think you should only become a HoD once you don't have to worry about your teaching anymore an can consistently deliver good lessons. Then you can learn to manage.

    At the moment, I can confidently walk into a lesson and teach any topics from KS3 to 4 and most of KS5 without having to do much prep for it because I have developed enough resources and I have taught most of these topics before. I also do not have to worry about behaviour management because pupils know they are in for a rough time with me if they misbehave. When a kid gets referred to me, I hardly have to go and chase them up because they will turn up. My results are always up there with the best and most experienced staff.

    I was told the same things by my previous HoDs before I became a 2ic and then HoD. I think if you don't tick all of those boxes then maybe, just maybe it is too early for you. At the moment, I am in my first year as a HoD after 4 years teaching and I find it quite time consuming. I have neglected most of my teaching in a sense that I don't look to improve the lessons like I have always done in the last 4 years. My marking is just acceptable even though I have less classes. The only thing that is still improving is my subject knowledge. I do more Maths every week because now if there is a question that no one can answer, it will be sent to me.

    I am super organised as well but it is really hard work because I don't have a 2ic at the moment. I hope it gets better next year though. The idea of having a 2ic is very good. it is always nice to have someone sharing your workload and bouncing off some ideas.
  6. armandine2

    armandine2 Established commenter

  7. defenceagainstthedarkarts

    defenceagainstthedarkarts Occasional commenter

    Does anyone really find budgets and the like thrilling?

    I don't think finding something dull is a sign from above that you are in the wrong job: I sometimes find actually teaching dull! That saying about "never a dull moment" isn't quite accurate in some lessons. I find this particularly true with year 8s.

    Juggling being a good teacher with other demands is an on-going struggle, I find.

    A lot of the time (and this is a rather feeble response) you do just get used to it and the job, as they say, gets easier ...
  8. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    When i was a HoD I generally did enjoy the other responsibilities. I think most HoDs would agree that you don't do it for the extra money, thus you do need to enjoy it. i think now too many are getting promoted before they have mastered teaching, thus they don't have time for the HoD role.
    Owen134866 likes this.
  9. smartiemonster

    smartiemonster New commenter

    Agreed. Was the school struggling to recruit?
  10. Malaguena

    Malaguena New commenter

    I sympathise, I gave up a HoD role after 4 years after coming back from mat leave as I just coudn't cope. And I was a teacher for 8 years before being HOD. I was teaching 20 hrs a week with all marking etc and trying to do the list as long as your arm of HoD tasks and I'd had enough. My school kept me on as a teacher and the improvement officer from the council actually praised me and said that if I wanted to be HoD again one day, I'd have no trouble getting a job. So if it is too much, step down. You can come back later if you want.
  11. lilybleue

    lilybleue New commenter

    Thanks to defenceagainstthedarkarts and Malaguena who were both understanding and encouraging in their own ways rather than assuming that I had been hired because the school couldn't find anyone better, or that I wasn't cut out for the job.

    In case anyone is wondering I am now dealing with everything much easier, and if everyone having doubts or freaking out two months into a new job and seeking a bit of reassuring was given the kind of comments I was given here, there would be a lot of people giving up at something they would have ended up being very good at.

    I understand now why some people are unhappy on the forums and claim that there is a lot of "méchanceté gratuite"

    All the HOD or Subject Leaders I talk to face the same struggles than I did and still do now and again, simply because there aren't enough time in a day to do everything that is ask of us, there isn't enough money, or we are not given enough help to do it.

    But it's good to know that apparently some of us are just born with it and never find anything dull, scary or difficult to achieve :)
    catflynn9, barca fc and Ray_Bee like this.
  12. Maz86

    Maz86 New commenter

    I will be a new HOD in September, in a new school. I'm 29, so I can't claim much more experience. Anyway, I am terrified, but your last post cheered me up enormously, Lily!
    dljames2013 likes this.
  13. lilybleue you're definitely not on your own, I meet many middle leaders who feel the leadership and management aspects of their role are thrust upon them before they feel ready. They also talk about the challenges of juggling so many balls, especially when they feel the 'teaching' one is getting dropped.

    It's hard to say if it's 'too soon' or not as schools vary so much but managing ten staff after three years is at the ambitious end. Clearly you've shown potential.

    It sounds like you need to start with a full and frank discussion with your manager about what you're finding difficult and the support and development available to you.

    You might look at longer-term accredited qualifications or something short, sharp and effective such as what SSAT or we offer. Mentoring and coaching might help too.

    I hope you can stick with it because there are some rewards and benefits from leadership and management, as well as challenges.
  14. zuba102

    zuba102 New commenter

    Not sure I agree with some of these posts. I'm also a HOD after 3 years and would say it was the perfect time for me to take on the role, and I haven't found that I've had a lack of knowledge or skill as some of you have suggested. Yes there are parts, like the budget, which aren't particularly thrilling, but the rest of the role I love and am still enjoying my teaching too. You will get used to juggling all the different aspects of the role, and become more confident with what you are doing over time. I think you need to give it more time before making a decision, as any new job or position takes some adjustment. Then if you're still feeling this way later on in the year you can make a decision then.
  15. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    The people who employed the OP should have.

    I would say at least five years of teaching, getting to know the ins and outs of the job. Then second in dept, and after 3, 4 or 5 years maybe HoD.
  16. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    I would say well done to the OP for recognising their issues ! All too often we are faced with NQT + 1, 2 or 3 years who think we "old fogeys" are past it and not up to modern day teaching, and who seem to think they know all there is to know.
    I would say try to delegate, look to older more experienced Heads of D for ideas, support and remember to be supportive to your dept as a matter of priority. Bend with it and hopefully all will settle down and you will enjoy your role.
  17. jago123

    jago123 Established commenter

    From your post, it appears that you were promoted 'too early'. To be a successful HOD, you do need to be a 'strong' teacher first- not saying you aren't, but with 3 years, you have very limited experience. Being a HOD, you've got to be very confident in your teaching and hold a very successful results rate, you are the team leader; you've got to set the example!
    Talk to your line manager about what you feel is necessary, whether to step down to a standard class teacher role for a couple of years until you feel you are ready for it and have the years of experience under your belt!
  18. peterdevon

    peterdevon New commenter

    Yes... Talk to your line manager - they are the best person to help you.

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