Experiences of learning online over the past year

In conversation with EIS, Edinburgh-based teacher Fiona talks about her experiences of professional learning, and career progression over the past year.

Hi Fiona, you undertook the Leadership Toward Management for Women Educators course with EIS and Neish Training (funded by Scottish Union Learning) in October 2020.  How did the experience of learning online compare to in-person learning?

‘Initially I wasn’t sure how it would work, thinking that I would be lost in a sea of names on the screen and be a passive audience member. However, with such a small number on the training it was very easy to get involved in the discussions and I felt I got a lot out of it. The breakout rooms allowed great opportunities for in depth chat with just one or two other participants - this eliminated the uncomfortable feeling of speaking to a bigger group and everyone having to listen to what I said. I feel online training courses open up so many more opportunities for professional learning, especially those living in remote areas or with busy home lives.’

Congratulations on gaining your promoted post toward the end of last year.  In what ways do you feel the leadership course supported you to apply, and has it helped any in the new post?

‘The leadership course undoubtedly helped me to gain the confidence to apply and put my best self forward. Going for promotion had been in my thoughts for the last couple of years but I always seemed to talk myself out of it; telling myself ‘I don’t have the right experience’, or ‘there are others more qualified than me’, the list goes on! I was very excited when the email came through offering the training as I felt it was exactly what I needed. It made me look at my own experience and recognise the many skills that I could bring to a promoted post. It encouraged me to not shy away from leadership opportunities and to not always listen to that doubting inner voice. This has also helped me in the post as a reminder to have more self confidence.’

We were delighted that you were able to join the recent leadership course for teachers in the Highlands and Islands as a guest speaker.  Can you tell us a bit about how it felt to take on this role?

‘Being honest, when I was asked to speak I did feel I was under qualified to be a guest speaker at a ‘Leadership Towards Management’ training session. But then I thought that maybe there would be someone who was in a similar situation to myself and they might relate to something I had to say. I enjoyed sharing my experience and hope it was of some benefit to others. I know how much I enjoy hearing how others got into promoted posts, so I hope I sparked some interest in the participants and encouraged them to put themselves forward for that promotion.’

What’s next for your professional learning, Fiona?

‘I have now been in this promoted post for 7 months and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I have applied to a Middle Leadership course to further enhance the skills I am developing in this role. I am also moving up to a new stage this year which comes with many challenges so I will be looking to develop my classroom skills too.’