I keep coming back to this QTLS thing. There’s an advert on the ETF site now about how to go about it, and it looks pretty much as if the whole process has been bought lock, stock and Reflect+ barrel over from IfL and it looks more or less the same, with the same sort of process as it used to be when I did it.
So was it worth it, and more to the point, would it be worth forking out nearly £500 for now? There are two aspects here: the value of the process itself, in terms of the benefits of the reflections involved; and the value of the finished product, in terms of what it means and what you can do with it.
Process is probably, for me, where it was weaker. For an ESOL teacher it was, and is, hard to identify with the whole dual professionalism concept. I’m not a professional user of English except in my setting as a teacher, so it was hard to extract out the pedagogy from the subject knowledge. For me, the two are inextricably linked so deciding which but was “subject” and which was “teaching” was, if not impossible, then definitely fake. The unsatisfying compromise was to talk about knowledge of language as subject, and to talk about learning language in the teaching section: unsatisfying because you couldn’t help but repeat yourself, and neither felt complete. The repetitiveness kept coming up as well in the rest of the Professional Formation process.
It was also not a difficult process. As you can tell by my 100+ blog posts on this site, I am prone to writing about my work at length. It’s not something I find terribly hard to do, either. I find writing far far easier than, say, a face to face discussion. I am slow witted and tongue-tied, and tend to wilt when challenged verbally: I’m the person who comes away from every meeting or professional discussion with a hundred brilliant things I should have said. So really, rattling out a few hundred words about professional practice is not even slightly difficult, and as a result, the net benefit from writing a few thousand words plus amassing all the certificates and so on was pretty small.
I also hated the system for doing it: Reflect. God I hated that. I don’t want hyperlinks and multi-modal swishy buttons and stuff. I definitely don’t want unusable constantly overlaying menus and graphics that regularly crash my browser, thanks. I wrote the whole sodding lot on Word with capitals LIKE THIS (LINK) to tell me where I was going to put links. I remember seeing the final report in printable format and wondering why it couldn’t have been presented like that.
So was the process worth the effort? Not really, and I probably only spent a few hours on the writing, plus another hour or two on the scanning and finding of certificates and documents. Would it be worth £485? No way. If I went through the process now and had to pay for it, the phrase “short-changed” would be at the back of my mind the whole time.
What about the product, having the status of QTLS? There are two nominal benefits to this: the ability to step from FE to school teaching, and the mark of professional status itself. The first is quite easy, really: no specific benefits there for me – the call for state school ESOL teachers is small, perhaps non-existent, although teaching students with EAL needs has a certain appeal. If I did make a wholesale move, my inclination would be primary not secondary (eugh, teenagers) and I would simply not feel comfortable making that move without some training first. QTLS would be pretty useless, I suspect. However, I do recognise that for some people this is a valuable thing, and I like the notional parity it brings to FE.
What about professionalism? Calling myself QTLS didn’t really make me feel anything much, I have to say. It didn’t create a sensation that I was now a proper professional, partly because I’m an arrogant bastard, but mostly because the process wasn’t challenging. I didn’t feel like I had had to work for it (I’d done that already with my qualifications) and so the final product didn’t feel like an achievement. I also don’t think that professionalism is about membership or letters after your name. Professionalism is a mindset: it’s how you think about yourself and whether you can hold your head up amongst school teachers, doctors, lawyers and the rest and say yes, I am a professional. I have trained, I have studied, I have been, and still am, crafting and developing my skills. I will challenge, preferably in writing, anyone who dares to suggest I’m not a professional. And it doesn’t take four letters to support that challenge. Well, not the four letters “QTLS” at any rate.