SET member Jenny Stafford-Curtis is just weeks away from completing her QTLS journey. Jenny explains how she is managing to balance the QTLS process with a full-time job and why it has already progressed her career.
Last year I completed my PGCE in Post-14 and Further Education for learners with additional needs. I now teach full time at a school for learners aged 16 to 19 with severe learning difficulties (SLD). Undertaking Qualified Teaching Learning and Skills (QTLS) seemed like the next step to developing my career. I also feel QTLS will give me the status I am looking for within a school, so I know I can move around and be regarded as the professional that I am.
How are you finding the QTLS process?
There’s a lot of talk about reflection, and I know a lot of people roll their eyes about having to write another reflective journal entry, but I am finding it valuable to look back and see how much I have improved since September. It’s given me the confidence to think that I am a good teacher, that I know what I’m doing, my lessons are good for my learners, and I’m doing okay.
With my observations I get positive feedback with helpful points to learn from and I’ve found recording it on my QTLS workbook has helped me understand which areas I need to work on – I’ve definitely seen improvements. I’ve also had lots of different responses from my learners, but when I can see that they are able to do something that they weren’t able to do before, that they are happy in their lessons and they are engaging, that’s a massive boost for everyone and I’ve felt a big improvement in their behaviour and confidence.
Finding support through other SET members
I’ve found SET’s online community group incredibly helpful – it’s a nice group and you can ask any questions you like. It’s also been good to flick through other member’s posts if I am unsure about something and to see if I’ve done something right. Often someone has already asked the question and you can read the answer, but otherwise you’ve got a nice safe group where you can ask a question and someone will reply, and at the same time you can help other people too.
I’ve been quite lucky as I kept in contact with my cohort from my PGCE so there’s a few of us doing QTLS at the same time and therefore there are a lot of group messages as we support each other throughout the process.
With the deadline looming, I feel that having the timetable to tick it off has been daunting, but useful at the same time. I’m just tying up my last bits now and although there’s that little bit of panic about whether I’ve done something right, by using the FB group and the online resources I know I can get it done and I’m looking forward to getting it finished and sent off.
My ambitions for the future
I’ve been lucky in that although I initially had a year-long contract at the school, since I’ve been working on my QTLS I have been offered a permanent contract. My school has also asked me to take the lead with the Duke of Edinburgh's Award next year and take a leading role for the art section in my school. I would like to spend a year finding my feet and progressing with my teaching and taking any opportunities I can to develop myself, whether it’s with art, mindfulness or to do with outdoor pursuits. After that I am keen to do a Masters and go into research and look at the benefits of using arts and outdoor pursuits with learners.
My advice to anyone considering taking QTLS is to just do it! I feel that it’s something to be proud of and will record your success as a teacher. I would also tell others to not be worried or overwhelmed – I registered in the September and ended up deferring because after completing my PGCE I felt I was still getting used to being a full-time teacher. I started again in February and I’ve found I’ve been able to manage my time a lot better and it’s something I’ve found manageable to do while teaching full-time. At first it felt like a mountain, but once it clicked it became something I could work through by breaking things down into small sections.