Want to know more about what our Chartered Teacher programme – CTeach – is all about? We caught up with Walsall biology teacher and current CTeach participant Jon Clements to find out about his experiences. Applications are open now for the next cohort.
Why did you apply for CTeach?
After eleven years of teaching in a state selective school in the Midlands, I was looking for a new challenge. In that time, I had experience of coaching peers, speaking at a TeachMeet and studying some MOOCs in my own time; it felt like the ‘natural’ next step was to apply for AHT roles but these were unsuccessful. A colleague had mentioned to me the CTeach programme but also warned that it would be highly competitive in the pilot stage due to a relatively small cohort. The application itself was tough but once I had sent it off I knew I’d be gutted if I wasn’t accepted.
How have you found it?
It has certainly been the challenge I had been looking for: the assessments tasks – an online debate, impact portfolio, webinars and video observation journal to name but a few – are both rigorous and engaging. It’s good to know that doing each one has impacted on my practice in some way, whether that be in the classroom or beyond.
What’s been your favourite bit so far?
For me, it’s been the opportunity to meet up, talk and work with like-minded individuals: whether that be a phone call from my mentor, forum board discussions with fellow participants, giving feedback on a video lesson observation or having lunch with someone new at one of the events. A result of this is that you are regularly looking outside your own classroom for new ideas, tweaks and inspiration, something I had little chance to do beforehand. I’ve also been lucky enough to become a Founding Fellow thanks, in part, to the CTeach and it was great to be involved in the recent roundtable discussion on teacher retention.
What’s been the hardest bit?
It’s been hard to regularly tell pupils not to leave work until the last minute, as you do the same thing yourself more often than you’d like! I’m sure I’m not alone in wanting every reflection, plan and impact to be perfect. Plus, there’s the need to manage CTeach work with your normal ‘day job’ and a work-life balance. This has been the most challenging aspect for me. However, I’ve adapted quickly, planning my work around my son, my friends and my home life. The programme is well-structured with plenty of notice of key dates and weekly e-mails reminding you of upcoming events and dates.
How has it had an impact on your teaching?
I am now a much more considered and reflective classroom teacher. Only a couple of years ago, I would have tried each and every new fad, trend and approach in my classroom, rarely thinking about how it helped my pupils learn. My Head of Department would often ask me “but are the kids learning any better?”. Throughout the CTeach programme, we have been asked to identify a need in our practice, research what options exist, critique these, and then plan, do and review. There is a growing (and appropriate) move towards the use of evidence in the classroom and I feel I can now use the science available to inform my teaching and the pupils’ learning.
What advice would you give to someone thinking of applying?
If possible, speak to someone on the CTeach programme or involved within its delivery. I’m sure any of us would be happy to talk you through our experiences. I can honestly say that, to date, it’s had the single greatest impact on the quality of the teaching and learning that goes on in my classroom. I would also add that I speak as a classroom teacher this offers a great opportunity for those with middle- and senior-leadership roles, as well as anyone wanting to bring a critical edge to their role in education.