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Very very new head of department looking for tips/advice

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by dogcat, Aug 20, 2009.

  1. dogcat

    dogcat New commenter

    Hi all,
    I am becoming team leader/HOD for Science in September and I am becoming more scared as the term approaches. I am in a very unusual situation in that I have only been at the school 2 yrs and have finished my NQT year in July. I realise that will sound ridiculous to alot of you out there, I find it very odd I was offered it myself. Basically to do with the state my school is in and the fact that the 2nd in department didn't want it and if they advertise we get virtually no responses!
    Would really appreciate any tips anyone has on any aspects of the role, any help with how to deal with difficult collegues would be welcome. Only one member of my team who is difficult, the rest are really supportive.
    Please could people keep comments about the craziness of my decision to a minimum, as that will not be much help to me!!!

    Thanks to anyone with advice
     
  2. dogcat

    dogcat New commenter

    Hi all,
    I am becoming team leader/HOD for Science in September and I am becoming more scared as the term approaches. I am in a very unusual situation in that I have only been at the school 2 yrs and have finished my NQT year in July. I realise that will sound ridiculous to alot of you out there, I find it very odd I was offered it myself. Basically to do with the state my school is in and the fact that the 2nd in department didn't want it and if they advertise we get virtually no responses!
    Would really appreciate any tips anyone has on any aspects of the role, any help with how to deal with difficult collegues would be welcome. Only one member of my team who is difficult, the rest are really supportive.
    Please could people keep comments about the craziness of my decision to a minimum, as that will not be much help to me!!!

    Thanks to anyone with advice
     
  3. First of all congratulations ... you have obviously had a positive impression on SMT. You are not the first person I know who has reached this position so early in their teaching career.

    I too am starting as HOD in September ... with alot of work to do!
    Initially I have asked my self 'what do the rest of the department need in order to start the term in a positive position?'
    The rest will come in time and certain aspects of the department's development are worth including in a department meeting and allowing the department members to have an input. This includes the difficult member of the team ... if they grumble about your ideas or the rest of the department's ask them what they would do to drive the department forward. From what you have said ... staying the same is not an option.
    We can stay in touch if you like ... to support each other![​IMG]
    SGMT2006
     
  4. Is there a more experienced HOD in your school that you could chat with? I started in a new school last year and was given a "buddy" who met with me every 2 weeks and who I could also ask about some of the tasks that had to be completed during the year. Do not try to do everything all at once! You should have a member of SMT as your line manager who should discuss with you what your priorities should be. Do not try to do everything yourself - get your department to help out by taking responsibility for small tasks. I too have a difficult member of department - I have found that allowing them to express their opinion but not be drawn into a discussion about it has worked okay and I have been able to stick with what I intended to do and they have then gone along with it - it also helps if everyone else is okay with things. Ask if you can go on a course for managing a team - if your school want you to do the job then they should at least provide you with the appropriate training.
     
    tanya109 likes this.
  5. Be nice to the staff and don't forget the cake in the first departmental meeting [​IMG]
     
  6. Congratulations! I second the training comments - ask the SMt/SLT (!) if you can have a mentor from one amongst them and ask if you can have training...Leading from the Middle courses are a bit if a bind...but if you've only been teaching two years you'd pick up some good tips. I'd also go for the day long courses on 'becoming an effective head of department'...you should get these posted to you generally from companies such as Dragonfly and Tribal.
    Never be scared to ask for help, and never be afraid to admit to senior staff that you're having difficulty (just keep it quiet from the staff you're in charge of...sign of weakness and all that!!) I've had troubles throughout my first year from staff not wanting to teach what they're supposed to, to parental complaint about staff, pupil behaviour, shoddy work and low grades. I asked for help in how best to approach people, what exactly would SMT say to this individual if they were etc...and they've been fabulous.
    Delegate some jobs to those who are a bit more enthusiastic and want to work - I tend to do everything myself as I prefer to, but even sometimes the workload means that I have to ask others to create a quick SOW or ppt...
    Oh....and cake does help[​IMG]
     
  7. Something else that I've just remembered - I always keep everyone informed of what is happening, decisions, tasks etc by ensuring that everyone gets an email of the minutes of meetings etc and also having a notice board for paper copies as well. It will be important that your "difficult" member of staff does not feel that they are not kept in the know as much as everyone else. And yes - cake or biscuits etc is always helpful.
     
  8. I would echo the comment about leading from the middle or similar courses. I went on one (and yes they are the last thing you feel like doing at the end of the school day) and found it extremely helpful.
    also I have found that you can get away with almost anything if you say things to people in the right tone of voice and with a smile on your face. Also phrases like 'could you do me a favour..', 'I would really appreciate it if...'.
    that said, sometimes with certain people you do have to be firm otherwise they take the mick! Set reasonable deadlines for when things have to be done and make sure you chase them up, this can be informally first of all ie 'just a reminder that thing had to be done by today' and then more formally if necessary.
    Your SMT obviously have confidence in you. Age/experience does not necessarily make someone a better HoD..I am young to be HoD myself. Have confidence in yourself and present yourself in a confident manner! :)
     
  9. dogcat

    dogcat New commenter

    Firstly, thanks to everyone for being so kind and helpful! In terms of SMT support I am quite lucky, I have a really good relationship with the deputy head and she is going to be my mentor,going to meet with her once a week (although there will be times when this becomes once a fortnight due to all her other commitments I imagine). I can always rant to her or cry or whatever if I need to, she has been supportive of me from when I started in my GTP year.
    Also there is an assistant head in the department who I used to be quite wary of, but who has been really helpful and supportive already and has said he will be there for me and support me through it. My line manager is the head of faculty and also an assistant head, she has also been really supportive and told me she thought I should take the job when it was offered, saying she thought I was the best person for it. I am also still in touch with one of my old heads of department and he said he will help me out where he can, so I do have a lot of support from people in the know.
    All that said I am still really scared as to how I will manage everything and still be a good teacher, always had 'good' in my observations and don't want my teaching to suffer (or my sanity for that matter!)
    Thanks again to you all! SMGT2006 be good to stay in touch and rant to each other when needs be! What is your subject?
     
  10. I became HoD a couple of years ago, and I too have a more difficult member of the dept.
    In order to cope I plan for each unit of work in full before the unit starts. I have a 12 lesson plan ready for each class next term and I know which ppt I use for which lesson and what I intend to give as hwk. I do this as it then allows me to use time in school to do those jobs / tasks which have to be done in school.
    I don't spend hours at the end of each day in school. I generally leave by 4 ish and pick up my 5 year old child. I then spend time being a parent and do any work I need to do when she has gone to bed.
    It is all about organisation. I don't get everything right but at least I know that my classes are in order. At the end of the day we are teachers first.
    Good luck
     
  11. Just make sure that you get all the admin correct in your first year through - exam entries, coursework forms, departmental improvement plan. Anyone asks you for something, make sure it is free and won't mean you having to spend loads of time doing something. Write down dates on a calendar of deadlines that come up so that next year you can be on top of admin and actually do something to move the department forward. Make sure you have time to observe everyone before christmas so that you know what is going on in the classroom
     
  12. Learn to be a teacher first. You are not experienced enough to be doing his job. Resign and learn the basics first.
     
  13. Don't listen to leapingtim, if SMT didn't think you could hack it they wouldn't have offered it you.
    I became a HOD very young(2 years qualified) and have had the job for 2 years now. The biggest learning curve I went on was realising that you don't have to drive every single change in your department. You MUST deligate!
    I really struggled with this at the start because I thought I had to do everything but with time I grew in enough confidence to ask others to help me. If someone comes and asks you to do something make sure that it is not something that someone else could do. For example I constantly get memos about new students, set changes etc. and did it all myself. My biggest advice would be to decide what roles you would like your 2nd in department, TLRs etc to play and let them get on with it.
    Also if you have jobs to do, try to get as many done on the spot as possible. Also another key one is a have a cut off time at night and have free nights, its easier said than done but you have to make sure you relax.
     
  14. dogcat

    dogcat New commenter

    Thanks woody, I am quite lucky as I have a 2nd in department who is in charge of KS3 and someone else who is in charge of the GCSE side of KS4. So alot of stuff I just have to oversee.
    To leapingtim; Not sure I need to resign without giving it a go first, if it is too difficult or starts to affect my ability as a class teacher that is when I would no longer continue the role.
    Thanks to thosewho suggested leading from the middle, the school has put me on that and I hear it is a really good course.

    I am also fortunate in that I do not have a family or partner to have to think about when I get home, by other half lives in a different city so in the week I can concentrate on work stuff.
     
  15. Congrats!
    Hope it is going well. I too started in Sept as HOD, but I have no second in charge or any KS coordinators. Just wondered what your workload was like and how you were coping?
     
  16. dogcat

    dogcat New commenter

    My workload is pretty big I think, my timetable is also a bit of a killer every other week. Coping ok so far I think. Had a bit of a wobble last half term, but carried on through it and ok again now I think. Alot of stuff to remember and have to be very organised to keep on top of things. What subject do you teach?
     
  17. oldskool71

    oldskool71 New commenter

    Remember that as HOD your primary focus is on continually improving the quality of teaching and learning that goes on in lessons within your faculty, don't be distrated from this by anything else.
     
  18. dogcat

    dogcat New commenter

    Thanks oldskool, I'll bear that in mind. Just trying to keep on top of exam stuff at the moment!
     

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