Showing posts with label HoDs. Show all posts
Showing posts with label HoDs. Show all posts

Monday, November 3, 2008

Changing role of senior school

Senior school, years 10,11,12 have traditionally been the home of the most experienced teachers. These teachers generally have a vast amount of experience that is tapped from time to time by other teachers when need arises, either in behaviour management, content knowledge and generally are aware of how things work, what has been tried before and how to get things done. They have the experience to guide our students through to TEE, university entry or into VET pathways where necessary.

Now I say this as an observer (as I am neither experienced, nor the most capable in senior school). I have no ambitions for a HoD role and actively promote the idea that the HoD should teach the most capable class and other senior school teachers should do an apprenticeship of sorts with mid range classes to hone technique and pedagogy first. ... and I enjoy classroom teaching too much to get involved with the admin required to do the job properly.

Somewhere along the line I think we have lost track of what senior school teachers bring to the school. We have lost our heads of department in Mathematics/English/SoSE/Science to other areas such as literacy experts and careers guidance, L3 adminstrative roles. Responsibility now for the performance of learning areas has fallen to those incapable of measuring success or failure as they may not have ever taught the subject.

An issue that is currently rising is the lack of time to complete yr 12 COS in time for the TEE exams. With 1 term lost to the exam process, it leaves only 16 weeks per semester to complete the course. A possible way to increase the amount of teaching time for COS is to use term 4 year 10 to start the COS process and to start the year 12 course a term early.

Staffing of this is a real issue because if a unit starts in term four, few teachers are willing to take on an overloaded teaching schedule to make this happen. At this time of year the temptation arises to utilise senior school staff to fulfil this role as in many cases they will be teaching these students in the following years anyway.

I think we need to resist this happening especially for our HoD's. If our best and most capable are not given unallocated time to identify and remedy issues within learning areas it is only likely that over time things will get worse. The time that they put into improving staff ability and student output is clearly underestimated and is not being adequately nurtured. It would be good to see the complete opposite occur and HoD's given the time, recognition, responsibility and pay to make things happen.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Teachers in administration roles

From time-to-time teachers get tired and need to get away from the classroom. Administrative roles have provided a haven for teachers, a temporary solution until batteries are recharged. Many positive things can occur when a teacher embraces this opportunity.

Experienced teachers in administrative roles contribute to the school when using their experience to monitor the progress of a whole cohort and use this experience to ensure that courses run are providing the opportunity for students to progress at their optimum rate.

The means mentoring, monitoring and assisting new teachers through their first few years, providing encouragement and new materials to experienced teachers and ensuring that everyone understands the expectations of their role, have clear, workable and achievable outcomes. They also need constant feedback on their progress.

Teachers in administrative roles need to be involved in the delegation of materials and sequences that are workable given their experience at their particular school and of the staff available. This may mean setting specific curricula, assessment, recording frameworks, assessment timetables and monitoring assessment results such as classwork, standardised testing and competition results. Ideas need to be adequately measured for success and they need recognition of the successes of their ideas.

To keep perspective this person must be connected to the classroom and seen as being put in a leadership role. They cannot be doing permanently pastoral roles (for years at a time) as staff in this position quickly become disconnected from students and teacher colleagues when not actively involved in the day-to-day lives of our students. This may mean resuming .6-.8 FTE doing classroom related work and .4-.2 FTE pastoral care work and gently easing back into the classroom as the tiredness wanes and need for teaching a classroom returns.

Unfortunately some now see these 'Level 3' roles as permanent promotional positions as they attract higher wages with little student contact. Good teachers in these positions without the opportunities to do 'good' within the school (such as the tasks listed above) have no positive classroom contact, are only solving pastoral issues and are seen by other teachers as doing administrative trivia are bound to eventually feel isolated and have self esteem/self image problems. Poor teachers without pastoral flair tend to make a mess of the situation, are rewarded for poor classroom performance and cause further issues for genuine classroom teachers.

We need to carefully look at administrative positions, consider how they are used and treat these roles with the care they deserve. Staff in these roles are the glue and grease of a school. With clear goals in mind they can produce wonderful results for teaching staff, students and the school.