Creating Your First Staff Meeting As a New Head of Department

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On the very first day that your teaching staff arrives for the new school year, they should receive your first staff memo outlining the routine plans for Term One. This might include individual responsibilities, e.g. writing assessment items, meeting dates and so on. It should indicate the date, time and venue for the first department/staff meeting. This should be as close to day one as possible.

Include a proposed agenda for the meeting. Issue an invitation to your staff to submit other items as well. Decide if these agenda items need to be included in this meeting or put on the agenda for the next department meeting. Make sure there is flexibility in the agenda. Endeavour to run a short concise meeting, diverting contentious issues to the next meeting.

Below is a suggested agenda with some accompanying explanation:

1. Welcome to all staff, especially the new ones who might need to be introduced to all your staff. Speak to them beforehand warning them of the introduction and asking them to tell the staff a little about themselves. (This last part would be optional.)

2. Introduce yourself. Give a brief history of your career so far. Talk about your professional interests as well as interests outside the school. Explain that you are delighted to be at the school and look forward to a happy and fruitful time with them.

3. Open door policy: Tell your staff that “your office door is always open” to them to discuss whatever is necessary. Your only request is that, if the door to your office is closed, it means that you are in a sensitive meeting situation. If the issue they have is urgent, they should ring you.

4. Your plans and goals: give them an overview of your initial plans and goals which have come about following discussions with the administration team and the last Head of Curriculum/Department. However, you have no fixed plans to implement those goals until you have spoken, one-on-one, with all the staff.

5. One-on-one meetings with staff: explain briefly what you want to achieve out of these meetings. Give each member of staff an agenda for these meetings with suggested times for each teacher to meet you. Confirm the times or make new arrangements.

6. Routine arrangement for the start of term to be discussed.

7. Next meeting, its date and venue plus a request for agenda items.

8. General business: urgent issues only. Other issues can be noted for the next meeting’s agenda.

Remember to keep the meeting short. No teacher likes a drawn out meeting at any time let alone one to start the year off. So keep the meeting agenda on track and don’t let any contentious issues to be introduced

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