Lynn Baker, an English teacher, and Jacqueline Browne, Professional Standards Learning Coach, have recently started on their Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) journey. In their first podcast diary entry for the Society for Education and Training (SET), they explain how it’s all going so far and what they are learning along the way.
Lynn: “So, what do we think of the whole portfolio platform?”
Jacqueline: “I like it; I like how it's set up. I like how you log in and you've got your ATS button at the top. It is a bit overwhelming, I’ll be honest, when you first get your portfolio and everything is on there. On the initial home page, you've got all your Professional Standards down the side. It's not until you then start ticking things off that they start to accrue. I really like the timeline that's in the corner, that's really helpful to keep me in line with my dates. There's obviously all the posts down the middle before you even get onto your actual portfolio, but in terms of how the portfolio works, I like it. You've got a little video on there if you're not sure how a section works, you can watch the video for an overview of what to include. Then you have the freedom to write on it and do it that way. I think it's got a really logical structure – it's just quite big.”
Lynn: I think what I'm learning is I've got to trust the portfolio, because there's so many different elements. I don't think there's any other way I could keep it all together. So, I'm slowly learning to be at one with it. At first, I felt really overwhelmed, but now I'm thinking, well, that's okay because I know I can save all of it in here. I know whatever I need is here, and I'm trusting now that when I go back in, I can edit stuff and it's still there, so I'm feeling better about it. The other thing is, it's sort of better than I was expecting. I had a real issue when I was trying to upload the initial self-assessment. I was trying to do it off the website and trying to upload it and download it, and it wouldn’t work, so I was getting really frustrated, but then two things happened. First of all, I found that there's a forum on there, so that was great and people had started putting things in there. So, I started looking at that, but then also, when I had given up hope, I realise that it was all there set up for me on the portfolio.
Jacqueline: That’s right, it’s all embedded on there. And it’s funny you should say things about the forum, because I went on there and I saw your post and I thought I should mention to you that it’s in the portfolio – the graph is populated at all times on your portfolio, so you can keep looking back for a really clear visual of where you are at.
Lynn: What have you thought about the Facebook group, have you joined that?
Jacqueline: I have joined it and it’s been quite quiet, unless I've got my settings wrong. I guess lots of people are finding their feet, so I haven't seen very much activity on there at the minute.
Lynn: I have joined it and I know when I did QTLS, I used the Facebook group a lot, although actually, when people were putting stuff on it worried me slightly when they were saying, well, I've done this, I've done that. So, I'm sort of okay with it being quiet at the moment, but just knowing it’s there is great – it’s like the forum; it’s another place where you can go to sort of get some help if you need it.
Jacqueline: What about the webinars? We’ve watched two webinars now. How well do you feel they've clarified the process for phase one and phase two?
Lynn: Well, I actually watched the first one live and the second one I was on holiday. So I just sort of caught up on that. I was able to sort of look at things more quickly and write down notes and just get myself a bit more organised. I definitely think it's great and very helpful because it just gives you an idea that it's not a massive, workload straight away, you know, they're just saying it step-by-step. It made me feel a lot calmer knowing that, okay, I just need to do this and that, and that will be phase one.
I didn't think the timing of the second one was great because it was half term at 4pm and I was on holiday. I was going to catch up on it, rather than doing it live, but I found myself not as in the moment of it when I watching back, compared to when I was watching it live.
Jacqueline: Yeah. I agree with you. I like that they occur in a phase basis, but actually just as I felt like I was finding my feet with phase one, phase two webinar came and I was thinking ahhh! But yeah, I agree, The timing wasn't great. But I also watched it retrospectively and I think if you can make the time to watch them live, I got more from the live one, and it reminded me actually, thinking about the phases also on the portfolio there’s a Word document with all the dates then of when every webinar's going to be and when every phase is coming. That’s a really useful doc.
Lynn: No, I'm not sure about that. I've, I've saved a few things and downloaded a few things, but what I'm trying to do is manage my workload with it a little bit because before halftime I felt quite overloaded by it all. I think has probably rushing it. I wanted to get my first observation done, I wanted to set up a mentoring and to get my action research project going. So, I'm trying to be a bit calmer about it and approach it in a more methodical way. I'm deliberately not looking at everything. I'm just sort of looking at the first few steps, with an eye on the bigger picture, but feeling like this is a year-long process and we're only at the start. So, you know, I'm taking it slowly, I'm taking it steady so that I can manage what I've got to do in the times that we need to do it. Have you had your first observation yet?
Jacqueline: I haven't had it yet. No, it's booked in. I'm ready to go. I'm ready for it. But haven't done it quite yet, so I'm excited about that actually. I'm really looking forward to opening the classroom doors and letting my mentor in to watch that first session. So absolutely.
Lynn: I was a little bit not out of practice; it's been a while since I've had an observation, but it just reminded me, you know, that’s why we're doing all this, isn't it? So that we can prove and think flexible what we're doing, and yeah, I’m pleased that that's done. I've got an idea about what was happening for the next one and when it's going to be, but yeah, not just yet. Have you had anything that's really worried you so far? I mean, I mentioned about the self-assessment stressing me out, but is there anything that you've had like that?
Jacqueline: I feel like the quality improvement plan is just that thing that's sitting on my shoulder at the moment, you know? When you think, oh, really… it's kind of in my thoughts all the time, and I know it's just a plan, but I really want to get that plan right to kind of set the foundation for moving forward. I feel like a lot of things I'm doing in my role as a Professional Standards Learning Coach, I keep thinking, is this the thing, is this the thing I'm going to do? So, in a way, it's quite nice that I'm feeling it because it's in my thoughts a lot and I just, I just want to get it right – the planning. So I wouldn’t say it’s a worry, it's just in my conscience.
Lynn: Yeah. I know what you mean. I feel like I'm just in the bedding in stage, just starting to just feel like, okay, so this is happening. This is where I am. This is where I'm going to, and I'm ready to settle in and get cracking with it.
Jacqueline: What’s exciting you most then about the process? Oh, the, the thing that's exciting me is the actual teaching itself, because anytime you start reflecting on what you're doing, you get that little spark because you're looking at different things and your eyes are sort of reawakened to everything that's out there that is at your disposal, and you can try and that’s what’s getting me going. The bit that’s daunting me is recording it or reflecting on it, uploading evidence, but that's fine. And that's a good process for me to do in my own practice, because I'm very much a reactive of the moment person. So, I'm just going to have to deal with that.
Lynn: That’s it, yeah.
Jacqueline: So, okay. Well that's good, let's meet again in a few months and see, see how we're feeling then. It’s a great start. That's it… always good to talk to you, Lynn.
Lynn: All right then. Thanks Jackie. Bye bye.
This webinar recording explores the recent changes to the ETF Professional Standards and how these are expected to drive improvement in teaching and learning across the Further Education and Training sector.
Gillian Harvey explains how a number of tips have helped her gain control in the classroom in her experience as a teacher.