Thursday, April 11, 2013

End of Term

It hasn't been an easy term with structural projects within the school being navigated whilst teaching programmes needed to continue.  Whilst the process has been traversed as well as it could be, these things are not pleasant to be a part of and finalisation of them such that the focus of driving learning can  be re-established will be a welcome change.

My first term as HoD is now nearly over.  The departmental focus has been implementing resolution processes to ensure that a mutual understanding (teachers and students) of issues and consequences is effected.  The issue is at the heart of teacher morale and having a HoD where responsibility lies seems to be making a difference. The outcome should be that teachers feel better supported and clear boundaries are set for students to work within.

There is an inbuilt conflict built into the HoD role in a small school as it has elements of student services (the "you'll be all right" care team type stuff) and the discipline ("this has gone on long enough, understand the consequences that follow") side.  With struggling students you can be on both sides within short time frames.

Whilst doing the role I have tried to keep development of the teams going, working with teachers to develop skills, encouraging others to demonstrate their leadership capabilities within teams, develop behavioural support structures, identify professional development opportunities and allow staff time to demonstrate skills learned before intervening.  With a challenging group of students, I always seem uncertain that I am doing enough, whilst the image seems to be that I have a lot of time and can be doing more.

The disappointing part is that I have not been able to achieve my core objectives for term 1, the completion of the math learning area plan and implement RTP in math/science.  The learning area plan is incomplete although is evolving in structure to meet the needs of the school, but RTP is mired in the structural change, until classes become settled and administrative capacity available there seems little point to implementation.

There is a always a need for those in leadership positions to lead.  With reduced numbers of L3 positions in the school I am mindful that this is ever more the case.  Morale of staff is sometimes about pointing out the obvious achievements, keeping a focus on learning, identifying the positives, dealing directly with issues, discouraging negative perceptions and generating a culture around sound student achievement.

In the last few weeks in my own classes I have focused on student engagement, developing clear connections for students between assessment outcomes and the need to take ownership of results.  It is evident that students often do not realise the need to utilise resources available, but it is equally evident that they need reasons made explicit to utilise these resources.  One example was a test that students did poorly in - I provided two options for them - attend after school classes voluntarily to improve or I'll make calls to parents and make it involuntary.  Needless to say they were empowered to turn up after school and enjoyed the well planned extension class (well done team!).  It's ideas like this that can keep a group engaged and improving.

Having my computer stolen was devastating both in a loss of trust in my students and organisationally as it is a core element of my teaching.  We had been working on iPad deployment with it, and without it we have had to stop.  It's taken time to register with police and liaise with admin, time that would be better spent on learning programmes.  I'm also disappointed that the work for the 1-1 iPad deployment was discarded for a shared model.  This too has wasted a lot of effort in developing resources and deployment infrastructure.

The structural changes in the school will evolve the idea of HoD at our school and the school will have to decide whether my abilities fits the role.  I'm doing my best to listen and enact changes as I see possible, but I need to recognise I can't be everything to everyone.  It's week 9, and not a time to over think stuff - just execute and recharge over the holidays.

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