So big sigh, it’s done, my portfolio has been submitted.
This latest instalment tracking my frustrations and musings on my CMALT journey comes a week after my submission so I am in that middle land of having finally succeeded in my goal but not yet knowing the outcome.
Continued support came from the Twitter-sphere which included being directed to supporting blogs, direct encouragement and also an offer to review. All of which were greatly helpful and appreciated.
At this point this could no longer be avoided and procrastination is not the road to a completed portfolio as I very well know. So I abandoned the idea of official writing time and just picked up my tablet whenever possible and typed. Random lists of bullet points and notes became sentences and then paragraphs and finally pages. This approach worked wonders (apart from the horrendous results from auto-correct). I took it one section at a time, starting from the beginning and plugging in all the gaps and making the story whole. I tried not to over think and reminded myself that editing was a different job for a different day.
I tackled the description, reflection and evidence under each heading in one session. This was simply down to feeling that one completed section gave me more impetuous to keep going.
Crisis of confidence
With two weeks to go to the deadline I knew deep down that I could write all I wanted but without some feedback I would never know whether my words made any sense to anyone other than me. However, the voice in my head held me back: It wasn’t finished enough, it wasn’t perfect enough, there were still too many holes, it was too messy…
Needless to say, none of these obstacles would be easily overcome WITHOUT review. So after avoiding the issue I finally opened it up to three colleagues. Each in turn, gave me valuable feedback which was based on the fact that they knew both me and my work – they already knew my big picture story.
Finally, with one week to go I had to bite the bullet and open it up for external review and I accepted the kind offer from Hayley Atkinson, which had arisen within a CMALT Twitter conversation. My fears were completely disproved – as a stranger Hayley was able to spot gaps, see disjointed pieces and prompted me with many valuable questions. It was an incredibly valuable experience and a wonderful new connection.
An element that came up more than once during the review cycle was the level of honesty within the reflective areas. Having reflected for a whole semester in a masters module and subsequently writing in this blog I thought that I had the art of being reflective licked. However, my reviewers actually encouraged me to dig deeper and be more honest. This really did push me, I enjoy reflecting but by the time I submitted my portfolio I was actually exhausted and on some level feeling slightly exposed.
Not the end of the road
Completing my portfolio and successfully meeting my self-imposed deadline is of course is a great feeling but I am beginning to realise the true worth of the exercise comes from the discourse around the portfolio not just the portfolio itself. My assessors may come back with comments and suggestions but these will simply add another level of richness to the process.
Letting go of my thoughts and descriptions of almost nine years of work is both liberating and anxiety inducing but as the cliche goes ‘nothing ventured, nothing gained’.
- Set yourself a deadline: see the submission windows
- Be open about working on it, within and outside your institution – the benefits of this are many
- Attend CMALT webinars and read blogs such as David Hopkins, Maren Deepwell and Melissa Highton
- Get inspiration from successful portfolios (login required to view shared portfolios)
- Ask questions
- Choose a platform for your portfolio – a word processed document, a blogging system, portfolio software
- Start with notes and ideas in each section, just write – using coloured pens and sticky notes is favoured by many people
- Then begin to flesh these out and focus on only one section for each writing session
- List your evidence at the same time
- Link to ALTs core values as you go
- Get reviews – both internal and external – they are literally invaluable
- Register for CMALT
- Others have found the journey lengthy so don’t be put off if it is taking time, it won’t happen overnight