Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Summary of #ASEchat 25th March 2013 (92) How can we support new subject leaders?

The chat mainly consisted of advice from the contributors to people who would be starting a new post. They could be split into thee main categories. A lot of advice was about building relationships, another strong theme was leadership and finally there were ideas about how to develop into the subject leader role.

The comments below will be a useful read for anyone preparing for a leadership role.

There was a theme about relationships:

Early in #asechat @gregtheseal said that a new subject leader would need to build relationships with the team and @bio_joe said make sure any internal candiate you beat to the job doesn’t become an enemy. @hrogerson tweeted in reply that a new post holder should talk to everyone in the department and be friendly. @MrsDrSarah said that it was important that new post holders be honest, but not brutal as the development of the team is important.

@KDWscience tweeted that never being too busy for your staff is an important characteristic in a new leader and @littlejenster comments that having a sense of humour and being able to listen were important too.

@DavidCumbers said that subject leaders should pick fights carefully. Which will need to be fought today, which can wait until the subject leader knows where their backup will come from. Along similar lines: @stanothermic tweeted that new subject leaders should know that they will have to say things that others won’t like.

@Mrcjhewitt tweeted another reason why relationships are important, he said that too many post holders leave team building until later, but although one person can make a difference, they can’t do everything.

Another strand about leadership:

@hrogerson said that new post holders should lead by example and be prepared to do what you ask others to do. @oboelizzy made the comments that a new post holder should focus on teaching and learning in the classroom.

@littlejaneyface said that new subject leaders should know how to prioritise, they may feel the need to change everything to make their mark, but this won’t be practical for the whole department.

@gregtheseal said that subject leaders should make sure that they are doing the things they are asking others to do. He also said that subject leaders should think about the purpose of their actions, for example, why collect data if you are not going to use it.

@IETFaraday tweeted that subject leaders should start every meeting with “this meeting will help learning by…” If you can’t say why, postpone the meeting until you can! @Bio_joe backed up this idea by saying that “sharing best practice” should be a standing item on the agenda.

@julesgordon1 said that TLR holders should talk to each other before the meeting so they have the same vision and Heads of Faculty can share the delivery with the other post holders.

@damianainscough tweeted that new subject leaders should know their success criteria in terms of student outcomes. (Improve “T+L” and similar is not specific enough).

@IETFaraday said that new post holders should be prepared to challenge both upwards and downwards: Stand up for your staff, but also stand up for whole school priorities

@Mrcjhewitt said that subject leaders can build time and expertise if they remember you lead a team...not do everything themselves; they should value and trust others.

@Bio_Joe gave some other advice about building relationships: Find out what everyone's motivations are in the team. Why are they a teacher? What do they want to do? What interests do they have?

And some ideas about how new subject leaders can be developed:

@ashl3ylaw explained that new subject leaders can be supported by having a mentor, who is someone in a similar role with more experience. The two will meet regularly for discussions. @A_Weatherall somed up the support in a word: “mentoring”. 

@DavidCumbers suggested that new subject leaders should meet the rest of the school in the staffroom, and @hrogerson responded that she agreed as some of the best support can be found outside of the department. And @miss_m_w said that new subject leaders should make opportunities to meet with other subject leaders to share successes and ways to deal with issues.

@specialsciteach said that she was allowed to find her way with a guiding hand in the background: a new post holder needs to be able to make their own decisions, with support.

@hrogerson said that as a line manager of new post holders she would give them something achievable to work towards, that a newly appointed subject leader may not know what their job entails and direction from the line manager is important.

Other advice:

@obeolizzy said that new subject leaders should look at work of R. Driver, R.
Millar, J. Osborne, P. Scott, R. Watson, D.West, J.Wellington, R.Duschl, P. Adey, et al. In other tweet she said that subject leaders should attend ASE conferences.

@heatherakane tweeted that there has been a lot done by National Strategy on effective departments and new post holders should read them

@gregtheseal said that the NSLC aspiring heads of science course was the best CPD he had done. 

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