New term, new team, new start

Jane Basnett

Jane Basnett is head of MFL at Downe House, a successful Independent Girls School in Berkshire. She has been teaching for almost 20 years and is still learning. She achieved an MA in Digital Technology for Language Teaching at Nottingham University.

Follow @BasnettJ

Website: Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Originally published on 7th September 2015

A new term is always an exciting time. It is not just a time for new pens, new mark books and a new set of classes. A break away from the chalkface has meant that teachers are relaxed, full of energy and bursting with new ideas. Holidays for teachers often give them a burst of energy, a renewed sense of purpose and a chance to get their creative juices flowing. Thus, it is not unknown to return to work after a long recess and find departments all over school starting new initiatives and putting some great ideas into place.

Sometimes, it may just work out that a new term also means a completely new team and thus a new term for some faculties has an even greater significance; it really is a new start. Some old, secure hands may have moved on to pastures new and you now have a chance to rebuild. This is Perestroika at its best. You may have a team coming to you with mixed backgrounds: some NQTs, a brand new head of department, a head of department with some prior experience, the variations are numerous. With any luck you will have played an important part in selecting this new team and they will have been chosen because you could see that they fitted the brief you had in mind. At the very least, they have been selected because you can see that they will eventually become an instrumental part of your team and will add value to it and will bring something positive to the students they teach.

In recruiting new staff these are the five key points that I would look for:

  • A passion for their subject - sharing this passion with the students they teach and enthusing them is what keeps students loving the subject and makes them want to continue their studies into further and higher education.
  • A passion for teaching - understanding pedagogy, a desire to continue learning about how to teach is what makes for great teachers.
  • An ability to communicate - with the team and the students. It is a key skill to be able to build a rapport with the students and the team.
  • An ability to self-reflect - without this vital skill it is impossible to give their best to the team of which they are a part and to the students they teach.
  • Flexibility - an ability to fit into the team, to change and to remould is important.

So, your new team is in place and a new term is looming. How do you ensure that the new start is a good one and gets your new team off to a flying start?

  • Pre-season training: Okay, not quite training, but at the end of the previous term, if you can, get your new team together. Allow the current members of your faculty to meet the new ones. Start to build the relationships and the team that is going to make your faculty successful. This meeting should not just be a jolly get-together but a more meaningful meeting with an agenda. Success does not just happen, it takes preparation.
  • Department Vision: At your first meeting, as outlined in number 1 above, really bring your new members of the faculty into the fold. Make them part of your team and include them in the department vision and let them know what the plans are. Better still, let them contribute to the vision and share their thoughts and past experiences as these may feed perfectly into the department's plans.
  • Reading lists: No need to give the new team your summer reading list, but do give the team a book that feeds perfectly into the department's (and/or the school's) long term goals. Try not to make it a heavy tome but one that is accessible and easy to read. With any luck they may have read it already then you know that your new recruit is perfect for your team!
  • Stay in touch: If the new members of your team use social media such as Twitter, then consider sending a timely, light-hearted message, or retweet a pertinent subject-based message that might be of interest to them. If they are not into using social media for CPD or building subject knowledge (something to work on later) then it is just as easy to copy a tweet into an email. Keeping lines of communication open once or twice over a long break keeps you all in touch in a positive way and makes sure your new colleague feels part of the team and fully understands the ethos of the department.
  • Targets: Once term starts and your new team member has begun to settle in, decide on some targets that tie in with the department's aims. Help your team member to achieve the goals that are going to push forward the teaching in your department and meet on a weekly basis to see what you can do to help in this process or simply to talk through the progress made.

Of course, there are other practical things to be done to ensure your new team members settle in quickly. Indeed, these practicalities are taken as a given and must be put in place but the focus here is on how to rebuild your team to achieve your department goals.  

A new term with a new team is a definite new and exciting start so it is important to get it right! What would you do to get your new team working together to achieve the department vision?

What strategies would you implement? Let us know below!

Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support us.
When you register, you'll join a grassroots community where you can:
• Enjoy unlimited access to articles
• Get recommendations tailored to your interests
• Attend virtual events with our leading contributors
Register Now

Latest stories

  • How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country
    How to handle stress while teaching in a foreign country

    Teaching English in a foreign country is likely to be one of the most demanding experiences you'll ever have. It entails relocating to a new country, relocating to a new home, and beginning a new career, all of which are stressful in and of themselves, but now you're doing it all at once. And you'll have to converse in a strange language you may not understand.

  • Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?
    Is Learning Fun for You, Teacher?

    Over the weekend, my family of five went to an Orlando theme park, and I decided we should really enjoy ourselves by purchasing an Unlimited Quick Queue pass. It was so worth the money! We rode every ride in the park at least twice, but one ride required us to ride down a rapidly flowing river, which quenched us with water. It was incredible that my two-year-old was laughing as well. We rode the Infinity Falls ride four times in one day—BEST DAY EVER for FAMILY FUN in the Sun! The entire experience was epic, full of energizing emotions and, most importantly, lots of smiles. What made this ride so cool was that the whole family could experience it together, the motions were on point, and the water was the icing on the cake. It had been a while since I had that type of fun, and I will never forget it.

  • Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2
    Free recycling-themed resources for KS1 and KS2

    The Action Pack is back for the start of the brand new school year, just in time for Recycle Week 2021 on 20 - 26 September, to empower pupils to make the world a better and more sustainable place. The free recycling-themed resources are designed for KS1 and KS2 and cover the topics of Art, English, PSHE, Science and Maths and have been created to easily fit into day-to-day lesson planning.

  • Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu
    Inspire your pupils with Emma Raducanu

    Following the exceptional performance from British breakthrough star Emma Raducanu, who captured her first Grand Slam at the US Open recently, Emmamania is already inspiring pupils aged 4 - 11 to get more involved in tennis - and LTA Youth, the flagship
    programme from The LTA, the governing body of tennis in Britain, has teachers across the country covered.

  • 5 ways to boost your school's eSafety
    5 ways to boost your school's eSafety

    eSafety is a term that constantly comes up in school communities, and with good reason. Students across the world are engaging with technology in ways that have never been seen before. This article addresses 5 beginning tips to help you boost your school’s eSafety. 

  • Tackling inequality in EdTech
    Tackling inequality in EdTech

    We have all been devastated by this pandemic that has swept the world in a matter of weeks. Schools have rapidly had to change the way they operate and be available for key workers' children. The inequalities that have long existed in communities and schools are now being amplified by the virus.

  • EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab
    EdTech review & The Curriculum Lab

    The world is catching up with a truth that we’ve championed at Learning Ladders for the last 5 years - that children’s learning outcomes are greatly improved by teachers, parents and learners working in partnership. 

  • Reducing primary to secondary transition stress
    Reducing primary to secondary transition stress

    As school leaders grapple with the near impossible mission to start bringing more students into schools from 1st June, there are hundreds of thousands of Year 6 pupils thinking anxiously about their move to secondary school.

  • Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?
    Generation Z and online tutoring: natural bedfellows?

    The K-12 online tutoring market is booming around the world, with recent research estimating it to grow by 12% per year over the next five years, a USD $60bn increase. By breaking down geographic barriers and moving beyond the limits of local teaching expertise, online tutoring platforms are an especially valuable tool for those looking to supplement their studies in the developing world, and students globally are increasingly signing up to online tuition early on in their secondary education schooling. 

  • Employable young people or human robots?
    Employable young people or human robots?

    STEM skills have been a major focus in education for over a decade and more young people are taking science, technology, engineering, and maths subjects at university than ever before, according to statistics published by UCAS. The downside of this is that the UK is now facing a soft skills crisis and the modern world will also require children to develop strong social skills as the workplaces are transformed by technology. 

In order to make our website better for you, we use cookies!

Some firefox users may experience missing content, to fix this, click the shield in the top left and "disable tracking protection"