As one of the first people to gain Chartered Teacher Status, science teacher Dr Elizabeth Mountstevens shares her insights on the programme and why teachers should get involved.
“We know what we are, but not what we may be.”William Shakespeare
I’ve been seeing a lot of posts on my Twitter feed in recent weeks about the Chartered College of Teaching and their professional qualification Chartered Teacher Status, or CTeach for short. Now that the dust has settled from my time as part of the CTeach pilot cohort, I thought I would share my experience and encourage others to take a chance on this wonderful qualification.
CTeach and I had good timing. I had recently returned from parental leave, with a new-found interest in evidence-informed practice thanks to Daniel Willingham . CTeach was the new qualification on the block, it was evidence-informed, it offered the chance to interview an expert in the field and it had exams (which by my definition made it rigorous). CTeach was looking for participants and having given up my TLR I was looking to forge my own identity as a teacher.
If that all makes it sound like an easy decision, it definitely wasn’t. As a teacher, I struggled with imposter syndrome. I was haunted by comments on my behaviour management made during ITT and scared of the consequences of a less than perfect lesson observation. I’m still surprised that I sent off the application.
So, was it as good as I hoped it would be? Yes, and you can see the details of what I did in the image above. I would put this down to three reasons.
Reason one: Informed by evidence. Through doing the CTeach programme I was exposed to such classic papers as ‘Strengthening the Student Toolbox’ [Dunlosky 2013] and the currently very much in fashion ‘Principles of Instruction’ [Rosenshine 2012]. The former had a significant impact on our redesign of the GCSE Chemistry curriculum [Mountstevens 2019]. All the assignments involved reading lists. As an introvert teacher, it was very empowering to have my preferred method of learning given such prominence. However, the focus was not only on evidence from educational research and cognitive science but also on obtaining evidence from our own context. This included everything from the 6-month research project to the smallest changes to our practice where we were encouraged to use a variety of methods to triangulate the results and increase confidence in the findings [Kime 2017].
Reason two: Focussed on learning. A good example was the video portfolio. This was the assignment I was most nervous about at the start of the programme and I assumed it would involve videos of my lessons to show I met the professional principles. But it didn’t. Instead, we had to identify an area of our practice we wanted to improve and write a plan to improve it. Using the principles of deliberate practice [Deans for Impact 2016] we made videos of a series of lessons, obtaining feedback from our peers in order to improve this specific area. My video portfolio led to the development of the problem-solving process shown below.
Reason three: Broadening horizons. There was a really good balance between working on targets we identified and those chosen by the Chartered College. One of the main components of the programme was the professional development plan. At the very start of the course, we identified three areas to focus on, in my case: misconceptions, metacognition and collaboration. The plan was reviewed and adapted three times over the 14 months and all the assignments completed; this has probably had the biggest impact on my practice. The module on assessment provides a complete contrast. At the start of the programme, I would have described assessment as one of my strengths. How little I knew! This assignment really opened my eyes to the threats to validity of assessments [Crooks 1996] and has made me better able to assess the reliability of the assessments I use.
So, 16 months after the start of CTeach, what impact has it had on my practice? Have I found the teacher identity I was searching for? I’m certainly making progress!
- Confidence – CTeach has shown me that I have something to contribute to the teaching profession. I am no longer scared of observations but see them as an opportunity to discuss an area of evidence-informed practice with my colleagues. It has given me the confidence to co-present a keynote address to my school’s staff conference. It has given me the confidence to submit articles to journals. It has given me the confidence to start this blog.
- Identity – CTeach has confirmed my identity as an advocate for evidence-informed practice. It has enabled me to start a conversation with colleagues at my school and support them with evidence for or against particular approaches.
- Connection – As an introvert, networking isn’t my strong point. But CTeach introduced me to Twitter, and Twitter has introduced me to so many people and ideas that have influenced and will continue to influence my practice.
- Practice – Last but by no means least! The ways in which my practice has been influenced by CTeach are too innumerable to mention here but I have a blog now so next time, maybe?!
Know someone who would be interested in joining the Chartered Teacher Programme? Nominate them today!