Furzana Ahmed is a teacher of Mathematics at a Secondary school in Glasgow. She has 13 years of teaching experience in schools across Glasgow City Council and had no experience of practitioner enquiry before participating in the Teacher Leadership Programme. Furzana chose to participate in the TLP as she was keen to undertake experiential, action or enquiry-based learning and research. Furzana hoped that this would support and enhance her teaching experience and professional dialogue with colleagues and external organisations/agencies on matters related to education.
“My own professional learning matters to me because I am a firm believer that there is always room to improve, progress and excel in my capacity as a teacher to shape the future of the pupils in my care. Personally this challenges me to think beyond what I do in my classroom and explore opportunities to develop professionally.”
Furzana had never blogged or found blogging interesting. This was because she had a perception that blogging was more for those who were in the academic field. However, this misconception quickly faded after attending the TLP Induction Day where she discovered that blogging is indeed for anyone and a great tool for teachers to reflect and record thoughts on their journey to discover “their itch”. During the programme, Furzana reflected that the contact and support provided by the group leader was invaluable.
The second, and most common, misconception Furzana had about the leadership programme was the title of the programme, which she felt meant it was only for teachers seeking leadership opportunities on their way to promotion. However, in reality, the programme helped Furzana to understand the meaning of Teacher Leadership.
“My definition [of teacher leadership] is that it is taking an active approach to your own learning and teaching methodologies, discussing National Priorities to support pupils and raise attainment in Scotland, and discussing recommendations made by the Scottish Government to close the attainment gap. This proves the point that there is no full stop to learning, even as a teacher.”
Furzana now feels that she can scrutinise data and look for ways to improve results by identifying next steps.
“I also feel I am reviewing my practice more often than before and sharing these with my colleagues more effectively during departmental meetings. I feel the importance of pupil voice for shaping and planning my future lessons.”
At first Furzana felt apprehensive about taking on practitioner enquiry, thinking it required a lot of reading, and writing a literature review. However what she found was the recommended reading was useful and accessing research and articles proved beneficial for her to be able to keep up-to-date with educational matters (this wasn’t the case before participating in the programme). Overall, participating in the programme and the impact it has had on her professionalism has been unexpected and enjoyable at the same time.
Another result of participating in the TLP that Furzana found has been that many colleagues have been encouraged to explore this route as part of their CPD and Professional Update. Her participation has also allowed conversations to take place around the misconceptions teachers may have about the programme and the workload.
During the programme Furzana conducted an enquiry which looked at the impact of mentoring programmes designed to support BME pupils to raise aspiration and achievement, particularly in pupils from SIMD 1/2. The enquiry confirmed that mentoring programmes which are community led make an impact on pupils’ views about themselves and mentoring programmes are successful as a tool to enhance pupil aspiration and self-belief. Because of this, Furzana believes it is crucial for mentoring programmes to be available to pupils who are at risk of not reaching their full potential in school if they are not supported correctly.
Furzana would now like to see the impact of her enquiring approach particularly on attainment, achievement, staff engagement and in pupil and parent surveys.
In terms of the next steps of her learning journey, Furzana says, “I personally want to keep myself going with my journey and wished there was a stage 2 by SCEL/PLL”. She is currently taking part in the Glasgow City Council programme ‘Thinking about Teacher Leadership’ where she is using the skills and knowledge acquired in TLP to take another enquiring approach by leading a team of colleagues.