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Too Many Hats - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by oceanroc7, May 7, 2012.

  1. oceanroc7

    oceanroc7 New commenter

    I am Head of Year 8 in a fairly challenging school. In addition to the Head of Year job I teach BTEC Health and Social Care, PSHE, COPE, Anger Management and Social Skills. My training is as a Science Teacher but due to various complicated circumstances and my desire to support the school I am not teaching in my area of expertise. I teach in several different classrooms every day and due to the diversity of subject areas I teach, receive little support from any Head of Department. My daily job often involves rushing from lesson to lesson carrying heavy bags of books/paperwork, arriving late at a classroom that has been left in a mess, with some of the naughtiest children in the school waiting for me. Not much fun! In the last year I have found my health affected by the job and had a few days off work due to stress. I have written a formal letter to my Line Manager and the deputy Head, asking for some support and for fewer 'hats'. They have talked of referring me to Occupational Health and made small moves to support me i.e. moved one of my classes to another room. I have been told that when we get the new timetable in the next few months I will find myself in a better situation (i.e. fewer subjects to teach and possibly fewer different rooms). I am not very hopeful that there will be any real change in my circumstances and think, in order to protect my mental and physical health, I will have to start looking for another job. I don't want to do this as I feel a deep loyalty for the Year 8 students I have cared for since they started the school. Is there any advice anyone can offer me?? I am partly in this fix due to my inability to turn down a request from a colleague for help, but having told SMT quite clearly that I am struggling, I really feel that they should help and support me. What can I do if they don't???
     
  2. oceanroc7

    oceanroc7 New commenter

    I am Head of Year 8 in a fairly challenging school. In addition to the Head of Year job I teach BTEC Health and Social Care, PSHE, COPE, Anger Management and Social Skills. My training is as a Science Teacher but due to various complicated circumstances and my desire to support the school I am not teaching in my area of expertise. I teach in several different classrooms every day and due to the diversity of subject areas I teach, receive little support from any Head of Department. My daily job often involves rushing from lesson to lesson carrying heavy bags of books/paperwork, arriving late at a classroom that has been left in a mess, with some of the naughtiest children in the school waiting for me. Not much fun! In the last year I have found my health affected by the job and had a few days off work due to stress. I have written a formal letter to my Line Manager and the deputy Head, asking for some support and for fewer 'hats'. They have talked of referring me to Occupational Health and made small moves to support me i.e. moved one of my classes to another room. I have been told that when we get the new timetable in the next few months I will find myself in a better situation (i.e. fewer subjects to teach and possibly fewer different rooms). I am not very hopeful that there will be any real change in my circumstances and think, in order to protect my mental and physical health, I will have to start looking for another job. I don't want to do this as I feel a deep loyalty for the Year 8 students I have cared for since they started the school. Is there any advice anyone can offer me?? I am partly in this fix due to my inability to turn down a request from a colleague for help, but having told SMT quite clearly that I am struggling, I really feel that they should help and support me. What can I do if they don't???
     
  3. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    When you asked for some support, did you make any specific requests? It may be difficult for them to know how best to help, especially mid-year when it is difficult to change the timetable.
    Can you pinpoint particular crisis points in the week which could be resolved relatively easily? For instance, I used to be followed in one room by a teacher who taught Food on the other side of the school beforehand, and was almost always late. Once I realised this, I used to get her class in and settled down - if the delay had been longer, we could perhaps have organised for me to get a starter activity up on the board.
    Getting a look at the overall timetable might be useful in making suggestions: you might be able to spot an under-used room that would give you a base for more of your lessons (and look for rooms that might be freed up once year 11 go). And more sneakily, you might be able to spot where a group you're struggling with might be slid into the gained time of someone from the relevant department - or at least you could ask about doing some team-teaching.
    Identify the subject that is causing you most concern. What support do you need from the HoD? Do you need some training? Make some specific requests, so that the ball is in their court.

    There's nothing wrong with saying you'd like to return to science teaching - it sounds as if you've ended up not doing so because you were helping them out - was it ever meant to be a permanent arrangement? Try and pin them down now on what your timetable will cover next year so that you can make a decision about moving on.
    By all means look for new jobs: don't worry about the year 8s. I'm sure you've done lots for them, but if you look back to your school days, did you actually bother much about teachers leaving, however good they were and how much they did for you? You've done your bit, somebody else will do the next bit. We'd all like to feel that we'll be missed, but I suspect even the best teacher/HoY is just a memory by October.

     
  4. oceanroc7

    oceanroc7 New commenter

    Thanks so much for your really concrete advice and suggestions, frustum. What you say makes perfect sense and helps put the whole business into perspective. I particularly like what you say about putting the ball into their court.

    I would like to return to science teaching, but I have asked to reduce the number of hats I have and think this is currently not possible in this school.

    You are absolutely right - the Year 8's will be more interested in which teacher is replacing me than in why I am leaving (if I decide to go). That is a hard truth - if only they knew how hard I have fought their corner!
     

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