I decided to complete ATS as I was looking for a challenge! As a practitioner, it is easy to get too comfortable within your role which, in my opinion, leads to stagnation and the death of creativity. ATS gave me a meaningful reason to push myself forward with a defined outcome at the end that I could feel proud of achieving.
Mindset Over Mastery was based on the premise that for post-16 learners in FE, self-belief and positivity have as much of an impact on GCSE English success as knowledge and skills. I set out to investigate the impact of mindfulness on learner confidence. I trialled meditations in class and then delivered the same meditations to the English team so they could feel the effect and work out how to introduce the techniques in the classroom. This developed to include skills that learners could take into the exam room that would not only calm anxiety and stress levels but would be beneficial when writing.
The project moved on beyond my initial aim of encouraging learners to be more resilient and mindful. Firstly, the organisation is increasingly recognising the value and potential of mindfulness as a tool to combat stress and anxiety - not only for students but equally for staff. Secondly, within the English department, we have continued to explore the effectiveness of using mindful techniques as a method of improving writing, as well as reading texts in a slower, more calming manner.
It felt slightly overwhelming at times but with the support of my mentor and colleagues, I was able to manage those feelings. The research projects were invigorating and empowered me to lead and make change within my organisation. Navigating the portfolio was easy to manage, although there was a lot of documentation and evidence to submit. By the end, I had submitted 49 documents! The element with the greatest impact was my Viva – I hadn’t realised just how much I had committed to ATS until I had a chance to talk about it. As practitioners, a huge amount of what we do isn’t documented or reflected on, so to spend dedicated time doing just that was a special opportunity.
ATS has elevated my standing in college and there is a definite sense of recognition from everyone within the organisation. I have been invited to collaborate on different projects as well as continue with my passion for mindfulness. Overall, I have a much broader understanding of how the organisation operates and why decisions are made, which has put me in great position to influence others and make change.
I have realised that connection is everything. The ability to connect with our students by showing empathy and believing in them is sometimes all they need to move forwards.
In the word of the great Harry Styles, 'we can treat people with kindness, find a place to feel good.’ Isn’t this what we all need?
I would say that if you are passionate and excited about FE and your role within it, then this is for you. However, it is a huge commitment so take advantage of offers of support from colleagues as well as your mentor. My colleague Sue lived through every step of my ATS, and seeing what I was doing positively affected her skills as a practitioner too!
I love outdoor swimming and recently swam in Canary Wharf.