Delegating Responsibly

Today’s Mantra

Originally uploaded by lu_lu

One of the things I have found hardest this year is having people beneath me in the chain of command. I’ve had people alongside me and we’ve shared jobs out, but I’ve never been in the position of having to actively delegate and decide who will do what.

We have a new ICT Teaching Assistant this year and, as well as now being responsible for two teaching staff as Head of Curricular ICT, I also have to delegate jobs to the TA. And I find it very difficult to do that – I always think that if a job needs doing that it shouldn’t be ‘beneath me’ and so I should just do it myself.

The same applies to photocopying and the use of admin staff. I don’t want to demean them by giving them trivial jobs and so I do it myself most of the time (although I leave the technical stuff, like laminating, to the experts).

What I have realised, of course, is that if I don’t make good use of the admin staff, and of our TA, then there is no point in having them. Worse still, if I don’t delegate tasks to them then they can’t develop their own careers and skills. I need to be realistic about it. I don’t think that creating a display of photo techniques is menial or trivial – I just don’t have the time or the visual literacy to do a good job of it myself.

So today, I delegated some more tasks – tasks that I don’t mind doing, but tasks that are not directly related to teaching and learning (or learning and progress…) and tasks that take up time I could spend doing other things – like the marking that I’m avoiding right now 🙂


Thoughts on observations

Ouch 195/365

Originally uploaded by Blue Square Thing

Bear with me for a minute.

When I was 6 my grandma died. That was the first time I had to face the concept of death and, I’ll be honest, it scared me. A lot.

It bothered me for a long time, and I remember a year later being on a ride at the Epcot Center[sic] being absolutely paralysed with fear wondering what oblivion would be like.

Over time, of course, I came to accept that death is a part of life and to get on with living it without having to deal with panic attacks every day or two. So why is this relevant?

I also remember a time when, having been accepted for my PGCE and still working in a call centre I used to read the TES from cover to cover. I had a similar (although less extreme) moment of terror when I realised (at a conceptual level) that my lessons would be observed, my teaching examined, my qualities as a human being ticked off. Sheer horror.

Of course most practising teachers know that this isn’t the way it works in real life. Perhaps I’ve been lucky in where I work but my observations have always been done the right way. They’ve not all been outstanding (in fact I don’t think I’ve ever had an unqualified ‘outstanding’ rating) but, as my Head Teacher said in a staff meeting this morning – observations are not a stick to beat you with.

All of my observations have been aimed at looking at what I do well and identifying areas that I can improve on. They’ve never been used to tell me off, they’ve never been used to demotivate or humiliate and they’ve never been used to take privileges or status away from me.

This is especially relevant as I’m going to have to manage performance reviews this term and so I’ll be the one doing the observations, the one making the notes, the one providing the feedback. Luckily I don’t work with anyone who would ever need a stick to beat them with – here’s hoping I can take the examples I’ve been given and use these observations as opportunities to see excellent teaching, excellent learning, excellent progress – and if we see one or two routes to make things even better then that’s no bad thing.