The chances are that you went into teaching because you wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. But what if you could affect change on a much larger scale?
By becoming the head of your department, you can help change the entire school culture and put your mark on the community. But becoming the head of Physical Education or Science requires that you play your cards right with students, fellow faculty staff.
Here are a few tips that can help you become a department head!
Know the Role
Many strive to be a department head teacher but do not understand what the responsibility entails. This is why “step one” is to make sure you know what you must accomplish in this role.
At the bare minimum, you will be leading the other teachers within the department. This can mean everything from supervising lessons to conducting annual reviews of fellow staff members.
You must also make some significant decisions on behalf of the department, which can include decisions about textbooks, exam boards, and overall departmental organisation.
Along the way, you’ll do everything necessary to make the department function smoothly and efficiently; scheduling and conducting meetings, filling cupboards, and everything in between!
Make no mistake: being a department head is hard work. You should be up for the challenge before seeking out such a position.
Seek Out Opportunities
How, then, do you find department head positions? You can search for jobs on TES or other online sources. In most cases, though, you should start much smaller by seeking out local opportunities.
Try to find leadership and management opportunities within your existing position. This might include volunteering to head up a committee or leading other small teams throughout the year.
Similarly, you can assist an existing department head with some of their responsibilities, including marking up exams or researching the best textbooks for your department to use.
Taking on these additional internal responsibilities can give you the body of experience you need to land a department head job eventually. This is especially true if you are seeking such an appointment at your existing school. If it does not come to you, offer your services.
Play Up Past Experience
For teaching-related job applications, most teachers emphasise only their educational experience. However, for a department head position, it may be worth it to play up more of your previous experience.
As an example, time spent as a bank manager does not provide many experiences to help you teach. But it does provide experience with personnel management, paperwork processing, and time management that are invaluable when you are leading your fellow teachers into a thriving new academic year.
Long story short? Don’t discount the non-academic experience that showcases your skills as a leader.
Do Your Exams Homework
Earlier, we mentioned the importance of shadowing an existing department head and assisting with exams. There are also other opportunities for you to do your own “homework” related to exams.
This includes spending time marking completed examinations. Many teachers shy away from this, but it gives you some very “hands-on” experience in the field of exams.
Similarly, you should conduct your own exams-related research whenever you have the chance. Understanding the current theory and pedagogy surrounding exam work can help you to get the job and make you more productive once you have it.
Thinking of the Future
Right now, you are likely to be focused on attaining the position of department head. But have you considered what you would like to do after that?
You can serve as a department head for multiple schools in the coming years. However, many department heads use this experience to help pivot their careers into other exciting directions.
For example, this can be a stepping stone to eventually becoming a headmaster. And a department head which performs well may have an easy time landing an assistant headship.
You may also consider pastoral opportunities you did not have before. After being a department head, it can be easier to become a stage leader or coordinator.
Being a department head can open many doors for you. But it’s essential first to know which direction you’ll be taking!
Prepare for the Interview
Any department head position interview will involve several vital questions. Understanding what these questions are can help you successfully answer them.
Be prepared to discuss your vision for both the faculty and the school. Also, be ready to discuss your ideas for additional extracurricular offerings. Finally, detail your knowledge of previous curriculum changes and how they have impacted both teaching and learning.
Good luck and I hope this article gives you the motivation to excel in your Physical Education or Science faculty!
How to Become Head of Department in Science