Initially, I wanted the flexibility to enable me to work across the board so I could branch out and have the opportunity to go into other education providers. But also, I really enjoy studying and professional development. After taking the Level 5 teacher training, this was the natural next professional development that I could do.
At first it was a little bit confusing, but once you get your head round the portfolio and where to go for support or guidance, it was quite straightforward. I really liked the fact that it forced me to look at myself and my own practice and consider what practice is working and what isn’t. I think in teaching, especially in FE, it can be difficult to get to that point because you sometimes feel like you’re on the back foot, whereas with QTLS, it forced me to stop and look at what I’m doing instead of redoing the same practices time and time again without being particularly reflective.
My background is health and social care so, naturally by trade, I'm quite reflective because it’s so important in that sector. Reflecting came quite easy to me and because my organisation knew I was undertaking QTLS, they gave me some remission out of teaching which helped me to be able to fully reflect. QTLS has allowed me to look at my practice and ask, “is it just ‘good enough’ or can it be much better?”
I'm relatively new to teaching and I've never really looked at the educational research because I haven't had time, but with the QTLS process, I looked at things that interested me and the educational research behind it, which I really enjoyed.
I think probably the biggest thing I got out of it is that my practice is positive. It also taught me that I’m more resilient than I thought. We can be very negative about ourselves, but QTLS taught me that I'm held in high regard in my organisation. It has been a really positive process.
The process itself has grown my confidence which has led to better outcomes for my students because I've stopped second guessing myself. QTLS has also helped me to see the underlying theory behind what I'm doing, which really helps my confidence, because I know that I'm in line with what is psychologically or scientifically proven.
My students have benefited from my confidence growing because I’m more authoritative and less scared of change. The students are more resilient than I thought as well and are a lot more adaptable than I'd given them credit for before. It’s brought in new ways of working for my students, which has been more positive and gives better outcomes. They have been really open to verbal feedback which has improved how well they work on their assignments.
Throughout the QTLS process, I had some key meetings with some of our quality team; my supporter was one of our quality members. They looked at what I was doing and were heavily involved in supporting and helping me. We've discussed how my research findings could be shared more widely in the college. For example, verbal marking is being implemented more than it was before because it was found to be productive.
We recently did a development day looking at digital technologies and how they can be used in teaching, learning and assessment, partly because of my findings from undertaking QTLS.
I'm starting a new role in September: I'm moving to a secondary school to teach health and social care. I also plan to continue looking at educational research and how I can implement that in a new role and a new setting. I also definitely want to look at undertaking Advanced Teacher Status (ATS) in the future, because I think it further deepens knowledge and best practice.
Dedicate time to it. The more you put into it, the more you get out. I know that sounds quite corny, but if you don't put much into it, you're not going to see the benefits. Try and put some weekly time aside and speak to managers and supporters to see if you can get any remission from teaching.
Buy into the process and take the time to get to know where you can find resources to support you. On the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) website there's loads of support available so use it! Look at something that you're interested in for your areas of development; if you’re interested in that area, you're more likely to put more into it and get more out of it.
Use those around you and email QTLS support if you need help. Don't struggle by yourself.
I’m a second Dan Black belt in a martial art.