So it's September again. The first training day of the year and the usual staff meeting. Apart from one or two new hopefuls, it's pretty much the same set of tanned faces in the familiar semi-circle of chairs.
In my enthusiasm to spur the geography department on to (even) greater heights, I spent yesterday in school getting a few things sorted.
First of all, I took out the school calendar and our development plan. My school's department meetings are once a fortnight and, as deputy head, I am determined this year to make good use of every minute of them.
So I wrote down the date of every department meeting of the year and put down what must be the priority item for each meeting if we are to fulfil our requirements for maintenance tasks,as well as those that make upthe six priorities of the development plan.
For example, December, March and July see us reviewing progress with the development plan.
In late October we must plan for open evenings, and in late May we must have a standardisation meeting for key stage 3 teacher assessment.
I share out the minute-taking and make a promise to myself that any new issue competing for attention will have to be both very urgent and important to dislodge the items on my list from the top of the agenda.
I'm glad that I've done this already, because schools abhor a vacuum, and unless I stake out my claim for this meeting time, 100 pieces of bureaucratic trivia will rush in to fill it. So how am I going to deal with all this admin? It can't be ignored, no - but it can be streamlined and sidelined.
I've decided to establish a departmental bulletin that will condense all such information items into a maximum of two sides of A4. I'll type this up and issue it in the week in between department meetings.
In it I'll put things such as deadline reminders, the agenda for the next meeting, in-service training details and countless other paper items that would drain the life out of our department meetings.
I'm also fed up with the crowded noticeboard in front of my desk. It takes me ages to find the same old information and if it were within easy reach, my paperwork would get done quicker.
So here's what I'll assemble on my noticeboard this year: school DFEE number, school exam number, school phone, fax numbers and address, staff list, SMT timetables, list of tutor groups, rooms, and tu-tors, school calendar, school phone numbers and team member timetables.
While I'm at it, I'll spend a bit of capitation on a programmable phone with my top 10 numbers already keyed in. That should set me off on the right track for the year.
At least it should help me make the most of those department meetings and the few free periods I have!
Paul Hammond is a deputy head at Tring School, Hertfordshire.Earlier this year he set up the HoDs Homepage, a monthly Internet magazine. It can be found at www.hod.org.uk. His e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org