Tales from new teachers

panicking about promotion

The problem

I was coming to the end of my first year in teaching and it seemed to have gone well. So much so that my headteacher pulled me aside to ask whether I would consider applying to be deputy head of the English department the following year.

I was flattered but also intimidated. I have to admit to experiencing a surge of horror when I thought about how other teachers in the department would view me if I went for the role. Many had more experience than me and had spent quite a few years "doing their time" waiting for promotion.

I felt an element of nervousness on my own account, too. Although I had enjoyed my year and had benefited from my previous career in journalism, I felt ill-equipped to be thrust into such a prominent position so quickly.

I just didn't know whether to apply for the job or not.

The options

My friends all told me to go for it, believing that as I had been asked to apply, not doing so would be rude and damaging to my future prospects. But I also decided to have a chat with a trusted colleague from another department, as I felt I needed the perspective of someone who knew the school inside out.

He was really helpful, explaining that the headteacher liked to promote younger teachers to supporting roles, partly to keep older teachers on their toes but also to give fresh ideas and perspectives a voice within the school. He said I should go for the job if I felt I was up to it, but to discuss it with the headteacher directly if I felt I needed more time.

The result

I couldn't decide whether my doubts were because of how I thought other people would react to my application or because I felt I wasn't up to the job. I decided to take my colleague's advice and chat to the headteacher about it, so I booked a meeting.

He was very understanding. He explained the job in more detail and said he understood my concerns about the other staff. He said he would support me in whatever choice I made - including protecting me from my colleagues - and that the door for promotion would not be closed for ever after this opportunity.

In the end, I decided to go for it as I felt the experience would be worthwhile. My colleagues were actually very supportive and, when I didn't get the job, they were helpful in dissecting the feedback. All in all, it ended up being really useful. The writer is a teacher in the North East of England

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