“Falling over the line”…

…is how a fellow Head of Department described this final week before half-term. It’s been pretty tough, to be honest: we’re tired; the pupils are tired; the holiday was tantalisingly close but just not here quickly enough.

Despite the running-through-treacle feeling of the last few days, there have also been some highlights, including a bit of a refresher at the ATL Midlands TeachMeet on Thursday evening (of which, more anon – too much for one blog-post!). I’ve also enjoyed teaching the first bits of the Management section of the new A-level course. I regularly teach new stuff (let’s face it, my Y11 class this year is the only class where I’m teaching stuff I’ve taught before; this isn’t the first time it’s happened) but this is the first time in a long time where I’m teaching stuff that is properly new – not just old topics repackaged for a new specification, but actual brand-spanking, sparkly new content.

We’re getting the pupils to pre-read (“low-tech flipped” if you must, but please don’t) before lessons, and that has worked very well so far, but I think that the more theoretical aspects are working better with a teacher overview first and then supported by individual reading/notes. I used that model for PED and YED, and was really pleased with the level of understanding (being an economist helped, for sure). I’m planning to do similar for the management theories, such as the Blake-Mouton grid, as they arise. Most of these theories appear in Section 2 of the new course – it’s been part of the IB course for a long time, I think, but I’ve not had to teach management theory before. I started Section 2 this week with Mintzberg’s roles of management – I gave each pair lots of ‘manager cards’, each with one of the ten different roles identified by Mintzberg. The pair then had to sort them into the three categories (inter-personal, decisional and informational). A brief bit of discussion followed, then I challenged them to identify examples of the school’s Head playing each of those roles. Having a context that they all knew so clearly made a real difference to their understanding, and this is something that I’m definitely going to tap into in the future. I’m not sure whether or not to upload stuff to the TES resources section – it’s so difficult to navigate that I suspect no-one would find it!

Now, though, it’s the start of half-term. I’ve survived seven weeks as a Head of Department. I’ve got much better at Excel. I’ve had to negotiate tricky decisions about UCAS predictions. I’ve re-written the department handbook from scratch so it aligns with the format expected by The Powers That Be. I’ve taught a fair few lessons, and now it’s time to sleep.G’night.

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