Diary of a subject leader
Issues in the life of an anonymous Subject Leader
We had made one new appointment to the faculty the last time I wrote. I will be moving on at the end of this term, so a few days after that it was the two-day selection procedure for the head of mathematics post. This started with a lunch that was free to any member of staff who wanted to meet the candidates – it gave the whole faculty an opportunity to meet the applicants who had made it to this stage. Then the interviews began, some with governors, some with faculty members. This was relatively informal, but gave us an opportunity to find out what the candidates had recently read and how they used technology in their lessons. It was interesting to compare the ways we use hand-held technology, software and internet-based resources, with theirs. It was good to see knowledge of the NCETM, the Mathematical Association and the Association of Teachers of Mathematics. Everyone in the faculty is registered with the NCETM. I wonder how many other mathematics faculties have all joined up. Since there is no charge, it would be good to see those who are registered encouraging others!
After the interviews, I had 15 minutes to grab a bite to eat before moving over to the main building for a Year 8 Parents’ Evening. I have two Y8 classes so was fully booked for three hours. The appointments system works well most of the time, but there are occasions when someone needs a bit more time to discuss matters. Anyway, time problems got sorted, although I finished far later than expected – and what a great job our students did in keeping us refreshed with liquids!
On Friday, the interviews continued with two other candidates for the post of AST in mathematics. I started the day by arranging a visit to a Y10 student on work experience, and doing an interview with another student and his ‘employer’ over the phone. That student was in a butcher’s shop and still had all his extremities intact! The butcher featured in a UK JMC question many years ago due to some meat comparisons that he had mentioned to me. He makes cracking sausage meat and provides his waiting customers with sherry at Christmas time.
After that interlude, I observed one candidate giving a lesson. We have two observers at each lesson so a joint judgement is reached. After the lesson, the prospective heads of mathematics each gave a 20-minute presentation to senior staff and governors about their vision for 21st century mathematics. These presentations were quite varied and gave us a good idea of what we could expect about vision and how they would tackle the public presentation of mathematics at our school.
I then interviewed the prospective ASTs with a governor and deputy head. Two great candidates and a pity we only had one job! Afterwards, we had a meeting in the headteacher’s office with all concerned discussing all the pros and cons of those present, and then left it to the few to make the final decision.
Over the weekend, I was bombarded with messages from faculty staff asking who got the posts – I replied when the all-clear was given. There were good discussions on Monday regarding the appointments – which went down well with the faculty. I made a work experience visit to a local farm known for its school visits – all well there, with the student communicating well with visitors and goats. Back for a faculty meeting where, after we had shared good practice in preparation for linking mathematics with forthcoming sporting events, we dealt with set moves in Year 10, and looked at some innovative proposed changes in the use of Teaching Assistants.
Tuesday went pretty much to plan until late afternoon. I chair the Governors’ Curriculum Committee and we met that night. But the person who should have been talking about things that had been requested at the last meeting had been delayed by volcanic ash, so those items were postponed, much to the dismay of many present. My fault – with hindsight I should have foreseen that this might happen and looked for someone else to present the items. Anyway, a paper will be presented before the full Governing Body meets.
Wednesday was different. Since my interests include sundials and history of mathematics - see Bowland Maths, using the Bowland Player to access the case study - I had been invited to give a short talk at the Science Museum in period costume as the mathematician John Blagrave (1561?-1611). The reason was that a prestigious sundial maker, David Harber, has recently found out that he is a descendant of John Blagrave, and has recreated one of Blagrave’s magnificent armillary sphere sundials. He had also invited members of the Blagrave family to the unveiling, so despite the slightly rushed departure from school to make it in time, it was a great opportunity to talk to a lay audience about the history of mathematics and its present day applications.
Thursday was busy – UK JMC and we also had two visitors observing lessons. Both visitors were wanting to ‘see what mathematics teaching is like’ before embarking on either PGCE or GTP courses next year. One was an ex-student who had recently obtained a mathematics degree, so it was good for the teachers who had taught him to see him again.
Met with a colleague on Friday night to catch up with news, before the bank holiday – whoopee!