Joining a department 

My blog has taken a back seat a lot recently as life, work and everything in between has gotten in the way. Maternity leave, juggling school, authoring and marking/planning has meant that I haven’t felt particularly innovative recently, but, having just started at a new school as HoD, I thought I’d give some insight into my thought processes at the moment.

Starting somewhere new is always a challenge, but starting in January is tough! The kids have settled into their academic year and probably feel a bit wrong footed by their original teacher leaving, so the first tasks have to be getting to know the kids and where each of them are at. 

My current priority is Year 11 (and Year 13) as their exams are imminent. Getting to grips with their data, understanding where each of them is at in their controlled assessment journey and what sort of grades they are getting on mock papers is essential. It’s worth having a conversation with each student in your class to discuss where you think each one has been and where you feel they need to go: not only does this show them that you care about them, but that you understand what they are doing and you are available to support them through the last part of their exam journey. It also helps them if they can see that you know what you are talking about too. Build up trust and build up relationships.

Relationships with the other teachers is also important. Get to know your new department, both professionally and to some extent personally (cake always goes down well), and speak to people beyond the MFL corridor too. Could you go find a member of staff, rather than send an email about a quick question? It’ll be worth it in the long run. Get to know support staff too, whether that’s the technicians or TAs, they are all invaluable.

Prioritise what you need to do-I’m HoD so a lot of my role at the minute is looking at current exam data and understanding where the whole cohort is at. I moderating CAs, I’m dropping in on colleagues, I’m providing behaviour support and, of course, I’m planning and delivering lessons and schemes for learning. I have a list that I am slowly making my way through!

It is also important to make time for you. I’m a big believer in a work life balance, and with a young family it’s even more important to me to keep this, but for now, needs must, and there are some things that I’d just rather do in the peace and quiet of my own home, but I’m still getting out to the gym and no computer comes out until little man is in bed!

My last piece of advice is to enjoy what you’re doing. You’ve changed jobs for a reason and probably for more challenge, so embrace it, enjoy it and when in doubt ask someone!

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