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Head Teacher Subject Coordinator Department Head English …at the curriculum coalface Challenges, Opportunities, Rewards Paul Grover Charles Sturt University.

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Presentation on theme: "Head Teacher Subject Coordinator Department Head English …at the curriculum coalface Challenges, Opportunities, Rewards Paul Grover Charles Sturt University."— Presentation transcript:

1 Head Teacher Subject Coordinator Department Head English …at the curriculum coalface Challenges, Opportunities, Rewards Paul Grover Charles Sturt University Head Teacher English

2 A summary of recent research into the Head Teacher role… “Overall, there was a feeling that the head of department position is ‘where the real work gets done’, to use the words of one of those interviewed, but that it is also a ‘pressure position’. The head of department occupies a key position in secondary schools, with diverse and demanding responsibilities above and below them, alongside their own teaching duties.” Steve Dinham

3 From an English Head of Department… “I give them the folders, the material and I think it’s important to model for the staff. I won’t ask them to do what I wouldn’t do myself” “work hard and people don’t want to let you down. I try to maintain credibility – I’m the one who has no home room and I take the bottom Year 10. I can’t switch off. I mark everything and get it back the next day... instant feedback. More of the others are doing it now as well... I encourage the staff to write their own comments. Negativity doesn’t exist.... I think leadership is about removing obstacles.” Research report, Steve Dinham

4 A focus on faculties… Most effective features… Open communication Low staff turnover Mutual trust Collegial sharing Collaboration and consultation Least effective features… Command communication High staff turnover Antagonism between faculty members Teaching/learning program disjointed

5 Features of effective faculties 1 HSC Study by Ayres, Dinham & Sawyer (late 1990s) 1.Well organised, easy access to resources and equipment 2. General sense of enthusiasm, vitality and good- humour/goodwill 3. Faculty members love and promote the value of their subject 4. Experienced teaching staff valued and supported, and student-teachers welcome

6 Features of effective faculties 2 5. Up to date, well prepared resources, programs and exams/assessments, booklets for students 6. Aim to give the subject/faculty a high profile within the school – contests, events, displays, newsletter reports, website presence etc 7. Faculty based PD – high support, high expectations 8. Connection with host discipline, e.g. English teachers are active readers, writers, editors, membership of professional association 9. Focus on specific purposes such as needs of particular groups of students

7 Critical skills and critical issues… A Head teachers require these skills: High level interpersonal skills High level organisation and administration skills High level communication & academic skills

8 Critical skills and critical issues… BHead teachers face these issues: Being responsible to Senior executive, to Faculty staff and to students/parents (‘caught in the middle’, ‘at the curriculum coalface’) Being the ‘go to’ person and also ‘on your own’ – you don’t have to sit down and work…the work comes to you!- huge time demands…up to 60 hours a week ‘normal’ Responsible for resources, programs, rooms, timetable, budget, equipment, bookrooms, behaviour management, curriculum, staff development, assessment, programming, HSC/VCE and… the broken door handle

9 Head Teacher real-life views of the role… Expectations of the role and the reality encountered… Matched initial expectations (13) Problems with ‘people management’ (8) Underestimated workload (7) Lacked conflict resolution skills ( 6) Dealing with constant pressure (5) Interpersonal demands, pressures (5) Lack of awareness of aspects of the role (4) Parental demands, pressures (3) Imposed tasks, responsibilities (2) Enjoying more than expected (2)

10 Best aspects of the role of HoD… Working with staff (17) Capacity to exert greater influence within school (13) Capacity to initiate change (11) Rewards of team leadership (9) Serving students and staff (7) Facilitating success (7) Working with students (6) Sharing one’s love of subject (5) Freedom and discretion (5) Development of curriculum (5)

11 Worst aspects of the role of HoD… Lack of time (14) Constant workload and pressure (9) Under-performing staff (9) Compromising own teaching (9) Interpersonal conflicts, problems between staff (7) Tension between faculty & senior school management (6) Dealing with parental demands and complaints (6) Enthusing unmotivated staff (5) Imposed change (4) Imposed deadlines (3) Disciplining students (3)

12 Preferred workload - redesigning the role… Reducing HoD teaching load (13) Spending more time with staff (13) Reducing administration (12) More time on ‘core business’ (9) More time with students (5) ‘most free time currently goes in day-to-day running of the Department, with not enough time to sit down with individuals’ ‘management of people requires time... People are pushed by time’ ‘shed administrative clutter’, ‘Less paperwork’ ‘not nearly enough opportunity to arrange significant blocks of time when Faculty staff get together to discuss pedagogy and curriculum’

13 Personal HoD Leadership Style… Collaborative, consultative (17) Team player (14) Democratic, consensual (13) Keeping people informed, communicative (11) Recognising staff, positive feedback (10) Facilitator (7) Decisive (7) Available, approachable (7) Empower others, inclusive (7) Steve Dinham

14 Recent research has shown that rather than being “strong” and decisive, effective leadership is intensely interpersonal, involving working with individuals and teams to “transform” teaching and learning. Leaders’ relationships with their “followers” have thus assumed greater importance than the more technical aspects of administration, management and decision- making. It has been recognised that leaders need a sound understanding of human nature if they are to lead effectively. This is particularly the case in education where so much of what happens depends on collaboration, commitment, trust and common purpose. Steve Dinham

15 Strategies for effective faculty leadership 1 aware Shift language: ‘our’ faculty not ‘my’ faculty Be available – stop your work to support their work Seek suggestions for resources, events, improvements… Recognise and reward commitment 2 inclusive Seek faculty feedback, act on agreed suggestions promptly Develop leadership skills of faculty team – devolve responsibilities and encourage ‘risk taking’ and innovation Develop cohesiveness - events, celebrations, new equipment 3 involved Fix/remove/install promptly – students & staff see things happen Manage yourself – sleep, exercise and workspace Make the faculty area a showcase for staff & students Keep the focus on students, curriculum & professional development

16 Being an effective English Head Teacher Management Efficient resource organisation Communication systems in place Programs of Teaching & Learning in place Faculty image across the school promoted Leadership Trust staff to lead the faculty in key projects Organise staff to work in collegial teams Articulate staff & student expectations and monitor progress Subtle leadership by modelling and encouraging positive values & practices

17 Study of effective Head Teachers They exhibit, possess and utilise: 1.Openness to opportunity – see opportunity around them, including seeing and grasping opportunities in mandatory requirements 2.Positive attitudes – have outward-looking attitudes which are contagious 3.Bias to experimentation, risk taking – prepared to risk time, money and possible failure, and empower others to do the same 4.‘Pirating’; bend rules, procedures creatively – use the system and push against administrative and systemic constraints

18 5.Find pockets of like minded staff, foster collaboration – rather than attempting to ‘move’ all staff simultaneously, concentrate those who are talented and committed and provide them with support (encouragement, time, resources, professional development) 6.Develop and use productive external links – seek out and foster mutually beneficial alliances 7.Show moral leadership – exhibit the characteristics they expect of others and have a social justice agenda 8.Recognise all teachers are leaders – acknowledge and foster the leadership of others 6.Invest in teacher learning – place a high value on teacher learning and are prepared to fund staff development inside and outside the school

19 10.Treat staff professionally – provide professional-standard facilities and treat staff professionally, expecting a high standard of professionalism in return 11.Assist, provide feedback, talk with and listen to staff – are good communicators and listeners and provide feedback and recognition to staff 11.Aware that leadership takes time – possess a long term agenda and are prepared to work towards this; success does not occur overnight 11.Build on what is there - identify and nurture the seeds for change and school improvement 11.Find ways to achieve a common purpose – often using a central focus, e.g., ICT, student welfare, philosophy, curriculum change. Steve Dinham

20 ‘Difficult’ staff… However, these leaders are pragmatic. They know it is impossible to gain unanimous support, approval and commitment from staff. Rather than attempting to “move” all staff simultaneously, they concentrate on those who are talented and committed and provide them with support (encouragement, time, resources, professional development). These “pockets” of staff may be within faculties or across the school. They are empowered and encouraged by the Principal, who may facilitate bringing like-minded staff together. There is a danger in this, in that some staff may be “left behind” or be resentful and obstructive. As part of their risk taking approach, Principals believe that the “contagion effects” of committed staff and demonstrated success will bring some – but probably not all – negative or reluctant people “on-side” eventually. Steve Dinham

21 Personal and professional qualities of effective Head Teachers Positive attitudes are contagious Intellectual capacity – educational, psychological, academic Moral leadership Assist, give feedback, listen to other staff, mutual respect, empathy, compassion High level interpersonal skills, a ‘servant leader’ Generally liked, respected, trusted Knows, uses names, shows personal interest Available at short notice when needed Works for school, students, staff, education rather than themselves.

22 Personal and professional qualities of effective Head Teachers Focus on students as people - personal, academic, social Teaching and learning the prime focus of team, faculty/department, school Creates and environment where teaching and learning can flourish Has consistency, yet flexibility Moves deliberately, but carefully and slowly, builds on what is there – always observant High personal standards in appropriate spoken and written communications

23 Visions and expectations of effective Head Teachers “Expects a lot, gives a lot” Promotes clear, agreed, high standards Standard/normal things are done well Recognises student & staff achievement Encourages a culture and expectation of success Steve Dinham


25 Leadership has been found to be important in creating positive, innovative learning cultures and the facilitation of quality teaching and learning (Review of Teaching and Teacher Education, 2003, p. xxiv)… Research in a number of countries has demonstrated that leadership is also a key factor influencing teachers’ occupational satisfaction (Dinham and Scott, 2000), in turn, a powerful determinant of teachers’ professional growth and the quality of teaching and learning in a school. Finally, the earlier concentration on the Principal has been broadened to include other leaders such as deputy Principals, department heads and teachers themselves (Busher and Harris, 2000; Ayres et al., 2000). The focus of attention has moved from leaders to leadership with the importance of delegation, collaboration, trust and empowerment being increasingly recognised. Steve Dinham

26 Selected references The Secondary Head of Department: key link in the quality teaching and learning chain Steve Dinham, Kathryn Brennan, John Collier, Alan Deece & David Mulford (Australian College of Education, Quality Teaching Series - Paper No. 2, 2000) Steve Dinham research on Head Teachers pdf Features of a quality English department (New Zealand) support/English-subject-leaders-page/Features-of-a-quality-English- department Google scholar links collection – on the head teacher role,5

27 To receive this PowerPoint: Paul Grover Lecturer in Education Charles Sturt University email: phone: 6051 9707

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