Saturday, 3 March 2012

Getting back on track with my Chartership portfolio

It’s nearly a year ago that I registered for Chartership, found myself a mentor, went along to a “Preparing for Chartership and Certification” course and wrote this enthusiastic post about how I could totally do this whole Chartership thing, aiming to be ready to submit by July 2012. However, in recent months I have been feeling a bit lost with it, knowing that I am doing loads of stuff to go into my portfolio and developing personally and professionally, but feeling like I am too disorganised and losing my grip on actually building my portfolio. The first #chartership chat on Twitter in February left me feeling like everyone except me was on top of things, so I decided it was time to do something about it! I booked myself onto a “Building your portfolio” course which was running in Bath on 3rd March, and designated the 2nd March, a day which I was taking off work in order to use up annual leave, to my portfolio.

Yesterday was my “Chartership day” and I’m really glad I decided to spend a day looking at my portfolio; I started to sort myself out and feel better about it. The evening before, I had joined in on the second #chartership Twitter chat, and found it much more useful now that I knew I was going to give some time to sorting my progress out. I reflected on my PPDP, realising that I have met several of my development needs already and have lots of evidence to demonstrate this, a couple of my development needs are no longer relevant or applicable because of changes in priorities at work, one still needs more work, and I needed to add several more as a result of changes, both in my role and in my personal ambitions, over the past year. I also looked at the criteria and began to identify where the gaps are in the evidence I’ve collected so far, which has helped me to identify where I still have work to do. I was left feeling like I had made more progress than I realised, I knew what I still needed to do, and I could maybe even make the deadline I originally set for myself.

Today was the “Building your portfolio” course, which I found really helpful and motivating. Nicki and Lizz reminded us of various bits of the regulations, and some tips for building a portfolio in terms of collecting, organising and presenting evidence, and writing the evaluative statement. There was lots of interactivity throughout the morning which I found useful; sharing experiences and ideas with others is a really good way of prompting new thoughts I think. The most useful exercise for me was one in which we took a large sheet of flip-chart paper, divided it into sections for each of the criteria given in the Chartership handbook, and in small groups discussed what kinds of things we could use as evidence for each one. I found this helpful for two reasons; firstly because others in the session suggested items of evidence that I hadn’t thought of, thus providing me with some further ideas for demonstrating that I have met the criteria, and also because discussing the types of evidence for each criterion confirmed to me that I had correctly identified the gaps in my portfolio yesterday. The other aspects of the workshop which I found particularly useful were the opportunities to look at successful portfolios, and to discuss issues, ideas and questions with other MCLIP candidates. The #chartership Chat on Twitter is a great place to do this, but not everyone is on Twitter, and so events like this provide a valuable opportunity to meet and speak with other candidates from a variety of backgrounds.

One of the questions I was still pondering when I turned up at the course this morning was how to organise my collection of evidence; how and where to keep it all? I have a folder at work into which I put any pieces of paper which could be used as evidence, and my electronic evidence is spread out across my work filespace, laptop filespace, and email inboxes – really not organised enough at this stage! Lizz and Nicki gave us several suggestions for this, and as a result of their ideas I am going to try using Dropbox as a place to store all of my evidence. It can be used online in a web browser but you can also download it to sync with your desktop and your smartphone, so it’s a good way of storing documents so that they can be accessed from wherever you are. I will keep the print folder in case I want to add anything for which I have no electronic version, but as you can now submit your portfolio completely in electronic form (hooray!) I am not going to keep duplicate print copies; I will get rid of anything in that folder which I have in electronic copy, and make sure the electronic copy is in my Dropbox.

A few other useful tips that I picked up from today are:
  • Assessors are now failing portfolios if any of the evidence contains personal data for other people, or breaches copyright. Be really careful to anonymise anything referring to other people, do not reveal sensitive data, and consider copyright laws and good practice. I know that after putting all that work in, I would find it really frustrating to fail on something like this so I am going to check everything really carefully!
  • Don’t make the assessor think! Make sure your portfolio is clear and well laid-out, and that the evidence you point to in your evaluative statement is easy to locate. If your assessor has to start thinking about how they are supposed to find things in your portfolio, they will begin to look at it in a more critical light.
  • Don’t make your own copy of your portfolio; it will be sent back to you so you will have a copy to keep.
  • The Chartership matrix can be a useful tool when you’re coming to the end of building your portfolio, and want to select only the really relevant evidence from what you’ve amassed. Fill in this grid with your various bits of evidence, and then you can easily see which pieces meet all of the criteria; these should be the ones to go in your portfolio.
  • And finally, as previously mentioned, it is now possible to submit your portfolio completely electronically! It will still need to be in triplicate though, so you will need to send it on three USB sticks or discs. More information on this new development is available on the CILIP website.
I left the course feeling really positive and looking forward to getting back into building my portfolio. We were very helpfully provided with the forthcoming assessment board dates, which has helped me to form a deadline: I would like to have submitted my portfolio by the end of August of this year. My next step now is getting my evidence collected so far into some kind of order in my Dropbox by criteria, and starting to create something that actually looks like a portfolio.