The group

This week I’ve sunk a startling amount of time into my future chairship of the department–two meetings with Dr. Tea and the GGE, sitting in on a meeting of the tenth-grade teachers about next year’s booklist, and multiple conversations with department members.  All of this is important, of course, and will affect my experience as actual chair next year–but it’s also sucking up a lot of time I actually need to grade and prep!

And the question of how to serve effectively as chair while also teaching effectively is on my mind, especially as it looks like I will have five classes, three preps at the beginning of the year.  This is only for the quarter that Gamma is on leave–it makes sense for me to cover two of her AP Lang classes and mentor Ph.D. Guy in his first quarter of teaching that course–and when she comes back, I’ll drop down to three classes and get some breathing room again, just in time to observe and evaluate everyone’s teaching.

When you’re an administrator, of course, crises arise at inconvenient times.  When someone pops in, Dr. Tea only very rarely says she can’t talk.  Of course, I can be different–I can choose to say “I’m teaching next period and I have to finish this, can we talk at 1?”–but I have noticed that it’s very reassuring to feel you can have your chair’s ear when you need it.  I think I would like to emulate her in this, and that probably means working a little bit farther ahead than I usually do, so that I can be interrupted without disastrous results to my teaching.

I might add that it will be easier to work ahead when I have my own damn room and can be in it most of the time.

I have been toying with the idea of asking a few people to serve as a sort of informal advisory board for me (off the idea of a personal board of directors)–that is, people I can go to with chair-related issues who will keep my confidences and give me good advice.  I’ve already told the history department chair that I expect to be coming to her for help–she understands our department, is already a confidante of Dr. Tea’s, and is a smart and balanced person. And of course I will be soliciting advice from Dr. Tea.  I’m also thinking, though, that I might ask one of the Spanish teachers, who seems to understand the dynamics of the place, and who can help me keep in mind what communications from the chair will look like from the teacher’s perspective.  I don’t know that I would actually present each of these people with the idea of a board, but I would specifically ask if I can come to that person for advice as I adjust to the new role.  (A formality, as we are all pretty generous with the advice, but who doesn’t like being asked for advice?)

What do you think?  Is this collegial?  Crafty?  Or weird?

3 responses to this post.

  1. Ooh, that’s a good idea, one I may borrow. The language department chair is a good person for me to talk with, I think, and she already knows from way back when about some tensions in our department. I’ll be in a different situation, of course, since my chair will be gone on sabbatical and will then be coming back to take over the job, so I can’t really ask her questions next year, plus I have to maneuver carefully so that I don’t seem to be stepping on her toes — already proving a bit of a challenge. Anyway, I think having a kitchen cabinet is a very good idea for a new chair!


  2. That sounds very smart to me.


  3. […] lot of confidence, administratively speaking, although she is a much-respected person at SA.  The “kitchen cabinet” didn’t really come to pass, although I have informally consulted other chairs from time to […]


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