I have always been graced with good organisational skills, although I am not entirely sure where they came from. It may have been through having a father who worked in education, or my mother who likes to organise everyone else but herself!
A prime example was earlier this year when some of you will remember how overly cautious I was about my first trip abroad to Disneyland – taking with me as I did an entire sports bag full of documentation and repeatedly annoying the administration staff about costing, hiring or paperwork.
Either way, I’m incredibly grateful that I have a mild obsession with being organised and overly prepared, even if my other half can sometimes see it more as a curse (“yes honey, I do need to know if you are free December next year as these tickets may sell out?!”)
In fact, I believe that good organisation is a trait all teaching staff should have. For this reason, dealing with those who perhaps aren’t as organised as I tend to be can often cause bigger issues.
I was always told by my mum “if you want a job doing right, you just do it yourself” – a wonderful saying when the job is as simple as making a birthday cake, but when it comes to running a faculty it seems to become less poignant. Or so I’ve come to realise as staff fade away through illness and exams, requiring cover and leaving our faculty looking very thin on the ground.
As I begin to step up to this challenge, my mother’s saying becomes less and less relevant as I learn about the demands of delegating, and the necessity of trusting others to do a good job.
However, when attending one of the most poorly organised school trips I have seen on a coach with no air conditioning (and with 63 whinging children) and which arrived late for the show and didn’t pick us up until an hour after the event had finished, I began to wish someone had delegated this particular job to me.
As I temporarily take charge of the faculty in the head of faculty’s absence, it got me thinking about the skills you need for the role, as this is ultimately the next aim in my teaching career.
While I am an avid organiser, the person responsible for the trip described above perhaps isn’t. But they are an Excel genius with monitoring grades, and I clearly am not. It’s about finding those key skills and using them to benefit the faculty, and therefore the learning and experiences of the students. My short time in charge has made me realise that heads of faculty have such a difficult job – managing a team of adults, who can occasionally behave worse than the children!
Worse still, managing adults without being able to use the threat of a detention or a phone call home and while trying to keep them all motivated to enjoy working for you and meeting deadlines – it’s a tough ask, especially for a faculty as large as ours.
I felt the responsibility hit me instantly along with the excess of paperwork and cover necessities, meetings and event planning – and I thought my PGCE year was tough!
However, just as I’m sitting here, trying to be organised, staring at a faculty timetable, working out in-house cover for next week, my in-box pings: “Be back on Monday,” it read. I breathed a sigh of relief and sat back in my chair. Perhaps I’m not as hungry for promotion as I first thought!
Our NQT diarist this year is a teacher of drama and dance at a school in Essex.