Early Career Teacher Blog: Head of Physics but still more to learn

He’s now in his third year, Head of Physics and learning the ropes of management on top of his busy teaching schedule. 

Well what a half term. A gruelling 8 weeks! I am very grateful for the half term break as I’m sure all teachers across the country are. This half term has been my first as Head of Physics. I came to the start of the year excited about introducing all the ideas I had devised over the holidays (obviously not all of the holidays). I had key dates for the department – from when we were giving them mocks to when all the assessments were due. I had aims for the department and vision for the next year stretching to the next 3 years. I thought I had it all organised.

It didn’t take long for me to realise how much I had underestimated what this job involved. Within a few weeks I had to speak to a member of my department for ‘not pulling their weight’. They were not contributing to the pool of resources that myself and others were creating and generally not being a team player. It sounds silly, but I honestly didn’t realise how much man management was involved in this role. Having come straight from University and having only ever trained as a teacher, I have no management experience, besides a part time job as a supervisor at my student union shop, which I’m not really counting! I realised quite quickly that this was an issue and something I needed to look at resolving.

I started to look for courses and couldn’t find any that were quite right or at convenient dates, so I knew I had to look elsewhere. I thought I would start by talking to the old Head of Physics, Head of Science and the Head of Biology. They all had valuable advice to offer and helped me to start getting my head around what it meant to be a head of department. Out of all of them, though, I found the Head of Biology was the one who helped the most. It was difficult speaking to the Head of Physics and Head of Science as their advice was more centred around what ‘they’ did and how ‘they’ ran the department, which although useful, wasn’t what I was really looking for. The Head of Biology listened to my concerns, she guided me but ultimately helped me to come to my own conclusions. I would go to her when I was struggling with someone in my department or a particular issue and we discussed and came to conclusions together. We then started to develop resources together and we’re now at a point where it’s not all one way traffic and we’re helping each other and even occasionally she’ll come to me with a problem. The Head of Biology started off as my mentor 2 years ago during my NQT year, which is why we probably feel so comfortable discussing these matters with each other. I am still open to advice and it looks like I’ve still got more to learn but I’m looking forward to seeing what the year will bring.