About Me

My photo
San Clemente, CA, United States

Monday, May 27, 2013

D. Chair

My principal informed me yesterday that I would be the new department chairman for the mathematics team at Dana Hills High School.

I was the department chair for 2 years at a previous school and learned an important lesson at that time.  It is impossible to make everyone happy.  Back in the day, the department chair had a variety of duties but none was more important, more visible, more contentious than doing the mathematics department schedule.  It wasn't hard to decide when to offer a class or how many sections of each class would be needed, but making the final decision of who would teach what was never easy.  There would always be teachers not thrilled with their schedule.

There are a bunch of other important things the d. chair does here at Dana; work with the district office to inform staff of changes, work with the leadership team at the school to propose changes, order and maintain supplies, etc.  But again, who will teach what is a big part of the gig.

The first time I had the gig, instead of fully pissing off a couple teachers, I think I kinda pissed off all the teachers.  I was audacious enough to ask the guy teaching 5 AP level classes to teach 4 AP's and one lower level class.  I was so bold as to schedule a teacher to teach 2 sections of Geometry instead of 2 sections of Honors Geometry.  I thought that it was important to reward a hard working teacher who had taught nothing but low level classes for 5 years with a schedule that included some higher level classes.  Oh the humanity!!!

At Dana, I never wanted the job.  When I got here 10 years ago, Jim Ferguson was the chair.  Heck of a guy, heck of a teacher, heck of a d. chair.  Jim retired a year after I started and Nancy Williamson took over.  Nancy has been excellent for 10 years.  Her greatest strength is her patience with us, but she is everything a chair should be; organized, motivated, honest, fair, and calm.  I have come to look up to Nancy as a mathematician, a teacher, and a woman of good character.

Every year teachers are asked if anyone wants to interview for the job.  Every year when we are asked if we want the job,  we all say no as we ask Nancy to stay with the job.

Now, after 10 years, she's done.  I was nominated by my team, interviewed by my boss, and named d. chair yesterday.

I'm proud, excited, and scared.  I'm proud that my colleagues and principal believe I'm the guy for the job.  I'm excited to have a seat at the "leadership" table with all the other d. chairs.  I'm scared I'm not the guy Jim was and not the chair Nancy was.  Big shoes to fill.

I'm also more ready for this position than I've ever been.  Here's to fresh starts and new beginnings.

1 comment:

  1. I know Kyleigh enjoyed your class... she learned a lot and would have learned even more if she'd done your assignments :) She said you were the best at explaining things, and enjoyed your story times. Sometimes the things we teach our students fall outside the curriculum, but still fall within the job description of also teaching values and appropriate life experiences to help raise up good citizens.

    I like your "old school" style... the lessons taught with colored chalk on blackboards can never be replaced.

    The one thing I disagree on is that the new style isn't so bad. We can't all be you. In fact, I could never be you. But if I could capture you, on film (or pixels) for example, then I could still study and learn from you, even when you cannot be in the classroom (whether the student is sick or the teacher needs to take care of something, like his parents).

    Additionally, tracking one's use of a computer- based program that provides practice - which can't be copied or cheated off of as easily as a piece of paper (let's face it, there is nothing that can't be compromised) - has some value, too.

    Since you're the new department chair, I'd be happy to share my experience with the Holt Algebra and Geometry curriculum that can enhance your program, and I'm sure I'll learn a lot from you in the process!