Two helping hands;Curriculum Materials;Books
CONCEPTS 6: BEING A HEAD OF DEPARTMENT. By Anna Lise Gordon and Amanda Flint. 0 7487 1815 X, Mary Glasgow pound;7 each
Sue Brown finds sound advice in new guides to modern language teaching.
The two latest handbooks in the Concepts series are a thoroughly good read - and that from a tired head of department at the end of a long day. Recent initiatives in initial teacher education, with its new emphasis on the contribution of subject departments to the training programme, as well as the national curriculum and Ofsted inspections, have all highlighted the changing, challenging scene in modern languages teaching.
Being a Head of Department is a positive and realistic handbook, rooted in school experience and good classroom practice. Even as a head of department of fairly long standing, I found myself annotating the pages with targets for myself from suggestions given, with ideas and guidelines for managing tasks already on my programme for this academic year. The sound and sympathetic advice should give heart to those who are feeling snowed-under. The carefully structured format covers reviewing all aspects of the department, team-building and leadership, time management, departmental development and planning, aspects of professional development in the department, documentation and, finally, some typical problems and possible solutions.
Working with Your Student Teacher is sure to be welcomed by anyone who, like me, is about to embark upon mentoring a student teacher, or is likely to do so in the near future. With a clear emphasis on the new partnership between higher education institutions and schools, it seeks to give "practical and sensible guidance" for the subject mentor in modern languages. Again it is clearly structured and easy to read.
The book sets in context the changes in initial teacher education and highlights new priorities for schools. It helps teachers to clarify their role in the partnership between schools and colleges; suggests ways to prepare for and look after the student teacher; and examines in detail the training role of the subject mentor. It also gives useful advice on lesson observation , feedback , assessment and profiling.
The handbook serves as a step by step guide and, as a result, I have been able to plan a programme of training, an outline timetable, points for discussion with my school mentor and department colleagues and even recommend essential reading for all of us. The usefulness of the handbook speaks for itself.These are not books to be read and put on the shelf; they are working handbooks to be referred to time and again as the need arises.
Sue Brown is head of modern languages at Stoke Dameral Community College, Plymouth.