We asked the members of the HoDSciSci staff room slack channel what advice they would give new Heads of Department. Here are some of their gems. If you are a new HoD and want to join over 300 others in the staff room just DM @HoDSciSci on twitter.
Mike writes: When planning your days as a new HoD, think about how long a task will take and allow at least half again as much time. This covers unexpected interruptions or the job just being harder than you thought.
Liam writes: I wish I’d known the importance of saying no, or delegating a task to others. We can’t do everything and if we try we’ll do it all worse than if we only did some.
Richard writes: When I became HoD I wish I had more developed strategies for difficult conversations.
- Action if 100% sure your action is the best course of action. If not, say ‘I will have a think and get back you you’. Rarely do you need to decide there and then.
- Don’t get sidetracked during conversation, say ‘that’s a separate issue ans we can discuss that at a separate time’.
Sarah writes: When I became Head of Science I wish I had realised the importance of developing my staff as teachers. I focused on curriculum development and all of the tasks SLT required me to complete. What would have really made my department excel is if I had spent time preparing high quality, researched based CPD to allow every member of the department, myself included, to become the best teacher they could be. I now see this as one of the key parts of my role.
Joe writers: If you deligate, you have to accept that it won’t be done to the standard you wanted so just accept it.
Unless you explicitly tell people what to do and when they won’t do something out of the goodness of their heart.
Dave writes: When given a task to do, stick to the brief carefully so not to make extra work for yourself.
Katy writes: That you are not responsible for everything. Delegate and keep to any deadlines you set in conjunction with your team.
Sophie writes: Having a big dream/vision is important but you can’t do it all at once. Decide the highest leverage actions and work your way through them.
Mrs P writes: Focus on your technicians! Not only are they your eyes and ears, they are instrumental in the smooth management of the team. Include them in every decision and set aside time every 1/2 term to catch up – pinch points, administration of resources, even the mental health of the team, as some teachers pour their hearts out to techs, but fear of judgement stops them from speaking up. Provide them with bespoke CPD as they often don’t feel catered for in the whole school or department foci.
Michael writes: Put the teachers and staff within the department first. Look after there needs and they will look after the students.
Tom writes: I wish I had the confidence to question every ‘dictat’ that comes down from above (just think it over, not actually question the sender..), and to consider if what we were being asked to do fitted with my vision of teaching and learning. If not, to go and have a conversation with the originator (armed with done evidence) to negotiate.
Andrew writes: I wish I had known accepting you made a mistake is not a sign of weakness (although it feels like it) – apologise and make it right.
Lots of god advice there. We hope you found it helpful. If you have any questions please get in touch via twitter @HodSciSci