It’s fair to say that in the last week or so there hasn’t been very much to celebrate. Many of us are still trying to come to terms with the result of the US presidential election, and the implications not just for the US but for the rest of us. However I did have a bit of good news this week. I finally achieved CMALT status (cue imaginary fireworks, carnival celebrations etc or make do with this gif).
I’ve had lots of lovely congratulatory messages, to which all I can say in addition to thank you, is “it’s about bloomin’ time.”
The CMALT portfolio is really a reflective exercise on your own practice, so I thought it might be worthwhile to share a short reflective post on my experiences of the process, as it did take me a while to actual get round to submitting.
I am to paraphrase one of my assessors, a “well kent face” in the ALT and UK learning technology community. I’m an ALT trustee, and a previous winner of Learning Technologist of the year. Whilst these are undoubtedly “good things” for me professionally, and didn’t just happen for no reason; they also highlight my inner struggle with imposter syndrome. I still have doubts around my work, my value, my academic ability etc. What if I failed ? Easier not to submit, or continually delay submission than go through that pain and embarrassment.
However I do regularly chastise myself about the imposter syndrome. I was determined to finish and submit my portfolio before the end of this year. The move to having set submission times really helpful in this respect as they provide the deadlines which we all need.
I had actually started thinking about my submission about 2 maybe 2 and a half years ago; around about the same time as I started on my portfolio submission for HEA fellowship. I thought I could do both simultaneously. I thought wrong. Pragmatically my HEA submission had to take precedent, and once it was done I just needed a bit of a rest. I was very fortunate in that both my work (who paid for the sumission) and ALT were very accommodating about letting me roll over submission opportunities.
There were a few colleagues at work who had decided to go for CMALT around the same time as me. As ever peer support was crucial in getting me motivated and focused. This year my colleague Lina Petrakieva was pivotal in this respect. This summer she booked a series of writing times in our calendars where we just took a couple of hours, talked things through and wrote. I had made a start on my portfolio in a first flush of enthusiasm about 18 months ago, but this summer I really got stuck in.
I also found attending one of the ALT webinars on getting started with CMALT really useful. I said there and I’ll say it here, getting started isn’t the problem, it’s finishing it that is! The webinar was great as it gave participants the chance to speak to a newly accredited member and an experienced assessor. It also illustrated some good/ not so good examples for each category, and just gave the opportunity to ask some questions about length, tone etc.
There is the option to ask for a preferred assessor, all submissions are double reviewed. Once person who has really helped me think about CMALT through his sharing of his own experiences is the fabulously generous David Hopkins (one of the best learning technologists in the business). If you are thinking about CMALT definitely check out David’s blog.
I had decided to go for the end of September submission, so at the ALT. conference I took the opportunity to ask David if he would be one of my assessors. During our chat David again was really helpful in terms of focus and thinking about the parts of the portfolio that are assessed and the parts that aren’t. With that in mind I actually made couple of videos of me explaining my contextual and future plans sections. They seemed to be more about me so it made sense to make them a bit more personal and not just text. ALT do share a google sites template, but you don’t have to use that. I did start out using it, and did change it a bit. But if I’m honest, I just didn’t really like it. So I presented my portfolio using Adobe Sparke. It just seemed a nicer UI, easier to read, and OK I’ll be honest a bit more swooshy – yes I am that shallow.
The feedback I received was really fair and helpful. I did end up making a final push right up to the wire and so didn’t get anyone to review it for me. If they had, they may have helped to pick up on some of the comments made. I wasn’t as reflective in parts as I c/should have been. I didn’t explain some things as clearly or as well as I c/should have. Despite these flaws, overall I made the grade and I was so happy when I got the email earlier this week telling me I had got it.
So if you are thinking about CMALT, or like me had started but just never seemed to be able to get round to finishing writing your portfolio, why not just block out some time and get back to it? Use all the resources that ALT and the CMALT community provide. Look at the portfolios in the repository, speak to people, but most of all, just do it. It’s really not that scary, and if you follow the guidance, and use the opportunity to reflect on what you do/have done, what impact it has had, what you have learned, then you too will be a CMALT holder my friend.