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Quietly not doing as told

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by secretsiren, Mar 5, 2017.

  1. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    That's what I would like - show that we're all working together to improve our results, get the students interested and loving our subject, and ensure kids are making progress. And as what we've done hasn't worked, we can't just keep doing it and pretend it'll get better.

    I take on board that not everyone's comfortable sharing their ideas at meetings but we're a really small department, very friendly, and this particular colleague's quite keen on sharing their opinions about other things. We've changed a number of things because of great suggestions they've made.
  2. fineliner

    fineliner Occasional commenter

    I do think that if the results were fine, I'd be reassured that all was OK and even if I didn't necessarily approve of them not following department policy, I'd be less bothered. And also, to be fair, I'm not that much of a stickler for rigid rules if everything's working.

    Exactly. This is the conversation that you need to have firstly with this teacher and then, if necessary, with the teacher and your line manager.
  3. mollyhog

    mollyhog Occasional commenter

    It's going to be a difficult conversation, but depersonalise it (as you would with a student). Ask why policy and procedures are not being followed, listen to their reasons, validate their feelings and then say 'however, as much as I value your experience etc, we need to be showing consistency in these areas. Do you understand? Do you understand that if you continue to not follow policy I will need to take this further? Reassure them that once everyone is following the policy, if there is evidence that grades are still not improving you will, as a department, rethink.
    sabram86 likes this.
  4. Mr_G_ICT

    Mr_G_ICT New commenter

    Feel for you. I'm in a similar situation. I'm keeping a paper trail, reporting everything to my line manager as well as bringing it up with the member of staff as i find it, but it is frustrating. IF you get the answer, let me know. WE have a good department however his results are consistently under performing. hence my paper trail (i'm also cautious as i have to not be seen as 'picking on him' even though he's not doing his job properly)
  5. Maz86

    Maz86 New commenter

    Also in a similar situation, except for my colleague it might have resulted in a sanction. More tricky conversations to follow. I do think though - decide what you think and why - then name the issue and have a measurable solution :)
  6. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    i wish my current HOD was more like you SS

    He's a lovely bloke but he really needs to crack down on one person in particular who basically does what they like and is doing a c*** job.
  7. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    An update!
    I did an observation this week as part of a performance management review and it was pretty bad. Slow, dull, kids not understanding what or why they were doing things...I was quite surprised actually as I've always seen good stuff before. Now, one bad observation doesn't make you a bad teacher, I know that. But during the feedback, my colleague (who I've always felt I got on well with) actually argued with me about what I'd seen. Apparently I didn't understand. But the task didn't make any sense at all, the students were gamely plodding on with it but couldn't tell me what they were learning, why they were learning it, what progress they'd be making, nothing at all other than 'we're doing some writing'. And I deliberately asked very with-it students who pay attention in class rather than doing the Ofsted thing of asking the naughtiest kid in there.
    I found it very telling that my feedback was essentially completely dismissed. I have a feeling that the quiet ignoring of requests is part of a bigger picture of not feeling like they have to listen to me. They like me as a person but not as their Head of Department.
    We have also had a round of SLT observations over the past few weeks and these have also been distinctly mediocre. Not appalling but just not great.
    I think I have a much bigger problem than I thought. Which worries me. I have a gnawing feeling that my personal regard for my colleague has allowed me to let them get away with things for too long.
  8. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Thanks for the update @secretsiren.

    At least it has given you something very concrete on which to work. And indeed it does sound as though you do have different problems to those you initially thought. I think many HoD's find that problem with being accepted as a person, but not as HoD difficult. It's a fine line to tread- being accessible but showing clearly that at the end of the day your decision is the one which counts and which they must adhere to.

    So get your thinking cap on a positive strategy with which to move forward.
  9. Oh I feel for you SS this colleague sounds like they are marching to the beat of their own drum and has no respect or regard for your policies. I think the time has passed to be gentle with them - keep a paper trail, cc in senior management and depersonalise all conversations. Especially if they are going to argue back! Yes, feedback should always be a two way conversation however completely not taking on board any advice makes it a waste of your time.

    I am also Leader of a Core subject and when results dip there is need to look at weaknesses and address them - which is what you have done. Don't let one teacher impact all your hard work. I would be furious if my child was watching a film in lessons one period a week - what a waste of learning time! Before teaching I worked in a different workplace and I know that such defiance and refusal to follow policy or procedure would be quickly and formally addressed.

    Might be controversial to say but we are sometimes too nice as management in teaching!
  10. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    I think the thing that's bothering me most isn't that it's happening - I mean, people sometimes slide into poor habits and it's hard to get out of them - but the fact that I have let this happen. I have sat back, looked at the results, had a bit of a chat when I saw the books were a bit scatty...and made excuses because I like this person and think they do genuinely care about their students and want them to do well.
    Doesn't say much for my leadership!!!
    Still, today's another day.
  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    People are not 'born leaders' secretsiren. like with teaching itself, most of us 'learn how to do it on the job'.

    So stop being so hard on yourself. Use it as a learning experience for your role as HoD. Then move on how to address the situation rationally, for the sake of the department and the children i e de-personalize the situation.
  12. sabram86

    sabram86 Occasional commenter

    I am not sure anyone can act rationally in this scenario. As a private tutor and supply teacher, I am often shocked with just how little children know, or can do after years of "good" or "outstanding" teaching. Endless, detailed feedback seems to make them dependent on the teacher's mind for their own progress. I usually ask my English students to write an essay for me a week, which I often grade for GCSE students. We discuss their essay and they must sometimes defend it, but sometimes I give no feedback at all. I want them to reflect for themselves and internalise what we have learned.

    The teacher involved may have something like this in mind. I find the "best" schools can often produce the weakest students in terms of independent thought. Even the brightest can lack confidence without a prescriptive guide to help them. One bright-ish year 9 boy (at a school whose English department I rate quite highly) was given a guide to writing an essay that demanded certain literary devices were used in the fifth, tenth or fifteenth sentence. The result seemed to crush that synoptic sense of judgement that is the soul of good writing.

    My reaction to the odd world of schools was to leave. I do not regret it - quite the reverse. The teacher may be plotting something similar and so she is happy to let the marking policy slip while she plans her escape.

    Any leader relies on the authority he/she can muster, which is distinct from power. The sense that you are only doing something for the sake of pleasing Ofsted or furthering the SLT's careers robs their minions of any real weight. The clumsy and too-frequent resort to coercive means for enforcing "policy" (the latest lazy-fad from On High) shows that the emperor, indeed, has no clothes. No one can win in.
  13. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    The marking system I asked everyone to use was to put the onus on the child for self-reflection and improvement instead of relying on us for wordy answers or vague comments. The whole point of marking something should be to get the child to do better next time and this person's marking simply isn't doing that. If it was working then I wouldn't be bothered and would defend their marking style as far as I was able. And if they have a genuine issue with it then they should do me the professional courtesy to actually speak to me about it, perhaps suggest a workable compromise, ask if they can trial a different system. I'm not a dictator and I have always been a believer and an encourager of collaborative working, which has worked fine in the past, so I don't understand why there's a shift towards simply trotting on doing their own thing. If nothing else, it smacks of petulance - "I don't like this so I simply won't do it but I'm going to wait until I get found out and then make you check up on me".

    This person is definitely not planning to leave teaching or the school.

    And I have never asked anyone to do anything simply for the sake of Ofsted. My sole concern is to get my students the best possible deal they can for the rest of their lives. However, as being HoD of a core subject not doing well, and as the one who is blamed and held accountable for the results, there is definitely an element of personal peevishness at people quietly doing their own thing when the alternative is meant to be an improvement. And if it isn't an improvement, we'll try something else.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Have you asked why not?

    I've just quietly not done a few things asked of me most years in my career. Mostly they've made no difference at all to anything or any one.

    The few I feel bad about are the ones I didn't do because I wasn't sure how and felt too stupid to ask.
  15. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    I wouldn't phrase it as 'my way' but rather the way discussed and agreed as a department. This will make it clear that they are out of step not only with your expectations but with their colleagues as well.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  16. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    Agree with the above. The minutes have to state clearly and unambiguously *exactly* what you want your team to do, and by when, and how to deal with anything they do not understand, and then a statement about how you will measure if they have done it and when you will do it and how frequently. You then need to follow it up exactly as you said you would, and you need to do this for each teacher you line manager, fairly and in writing. You then will have the evidence that they are telling you to swivel and can then follow your school's disciplinary procedures with your line manager and Head's full support, which will probably start with an informal chat with them, you and the Head about what support the school can offer to ensure the teacher does as instructed. You clearly have a bolshy member of the team, who regardless of whether they think something is a waste or time or not, needs to follow their line managers instructions. So, everything in writing, do what you said, be fair and consistent and follow procedures. It takes time and it isn't easy but you can do it.
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Hmmmm apparently this is true...my DH (who is very good at their job) told me this today in the kind of voice that made me decide to give in and do as asked (Even though I am totally right in saying it is a pointless waste of my time!)

    Perhaps roping in a member of SLT to speak to the member of staff and point out the teaching standard that is to do with relationships/etc with SLT?
    But definitely take some time to find out why things aren't being done.
    Yes we all have to follow direct instructions, but there is then a responsibility on leaders to ensure their instructions are worthwhile following.
  18. Sheepgobaa

    Sheepgobaa New commenter

    2 years late to the party and stumbled across this while desperately in search of evidence I'm not going mad, and relieved to find that this happens to others, and that it is not OK!
  19. Over_the_hill

    Over_the_hill Star commenter

    Me too @Sheepgobaa!
    I wonder how this situation panned out.

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