Having taught GCSE English as a resit course for nearly six years, I was starting to wonder whether this would be it for the rest of my career, and then Covid happened, and any career progression ideas went out of the window. At the time, I was disappointed and frustrated, but, on reflection, I’m grateful for the opportunity that Covid has given me to develop as a teacher and consider my progression routes carefully.
As we begin to return to "normal", I can feel myself starting to twitch and begin to wonder, what next? I’m very happy and proud to work where I do, so it’s not a case of looking for somewhere else to work. I think a lot of people would assume that management would be the way forward, but I don’t think I’m ready for that. So how else can you advance your career whilst continuing in the same role, at the same institution?
Background: Teacher training – 4 tips for mentors
Achieving a qualification such as QTLS (Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills), if you haven’t already, is worth considering. I’m currently undertaking my QTLS and it definitely makes me feel as though I’m achieving something very beneficial. It is described as the "badge of professionalism" by the Society for Education and Training, the provider of this qualification, and shows that you are a true professional who is committed to their role.
It’s so easy to simply put your observation feedback or reflections about your teaching to one side, but the QTLS process really makes you focus on these areas and encourages you to advance your practice.
If you’re looking to develop your mentoring skills and help a new colleague in the process, mentoring is a great scheme to assist you in achieving both of these aims at the same time. You can usually become a mentor if you’ve worked somewhere for over an academic year as by this time you should have a good understanding of how your department, and the wider college, works, and you’ll feel confident about sharing this information with new starters. Mentoring schemes are good because they take a little bit of pressure off managers and give employees a little bit more responsibility in ensuring that new starters settle in well. It’s also a good opportunity to share your experience, practice and build relationships. Meeting up with a designated mentor a few times per academic year can really make that new team member feel welcomed and that they have another person to go to, other than their line manager. If your college doesn’t have a mentoring scheme, why not see if you can start one? This might be the ideal level of responsibility you’re looking for.
Becoming an examiner
Of course, GCSE assessment is not running the way it usually would this summer, but I’m sure it won’t be long before exams return to their pre-Covid existence, or perhaps an adjusted version.
There are so many advantages to examining. Not only will you improve your knowledge of the course you teach, you will also understand how your learners are assessed by the exam board, which will inform your teaching, the way you mark their work and your accuracy. You’ll also get paid, which is an added bonus!
Don’t let the impending assessment marking to inform centre assessed grades put you off applying to be an examiner. I’m confident the process is completely different.
Having graduated with a degree that is not related to the area I teach, I’ve often considered what a master's in an English-related course could do, not only to improve my knowledge but also to challenge me intellectually. I had no idea there were so many varieties of English master's out there, and there are more flexible modes of study than I had realised, such as part-time combined with distance learning. Perfect for a full-time teacher! I can’t wait to do some more research about further study over the summer holidays. If you are thinking about further study, it’s important to consider your financial position and workload before committing to a course.
Kate Watts is a further education lecturer at a college in London