Introduction to cycles and focus areas

A guide to understanding cycles, their features and where to find them in your Educator Portfolio

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Written by Support
Updated over a week ago

This article includes information on the new premium Educator Portfolios platform.

In this guide:

What are focus areas and cycles?

Cycles are a set of focus areas with a start and end date. A cycle could be a professional growth or appraisal cycle, or it could be used for induction or leadership. A cycle can also include a self review and/or manager review at the end of the period, but does not have to.

Cycles are set up by your network and are either created in-house by management, or from a Storypark template.

Your homepage

Every educator has their own homepage where you and your managers can see your current and past cycles, your focus areas and your activity:

If your organisation has set up goal cycles for each role, then your manager will be able to assign you a cycle. If they click the ‘New cycle’ button they’ll see a list of available cycles, then they simply select the correct role under a cycle and assign it to you. The cycle will now be live on your homepage.

A focus area

Think of a cycle as a container that holds your list of focus areas. Focus areas could be a practice, principle, indicator, standard or quality area.

In the focus areas widget on your homepage, you will see a list of focus areas within each cycle. Clicking on each focus area for the cycle lets you read a bit more about it. A focus area's description might include what is expected of you in that area of your practice, links to more information, a way to link in a portfolio story or plan, and perhaps what it means to meet or exceed this particular area of practice.

If the cycle includes a review, your focus areas might include information on what the
review will entail:

A focus area might also have supporting focus areas. You might for example have a main focus area called 'Teaching Standards', and then a supporting focus area for each standard. In the focus area in the screen above, there are two supporting focus areas – one for an inquiry and one for SMART goals.

You’ll notice that this focus area has a few links to different portfolio plans. In the planning area when an inquiry plan is open for example clicking on 'link' from any content cell opens up the linker where you can link to one of your focus areas. Once it’s in the plan the linked focus area can be clicked to view it straight from the plan.

On the homepage, you can now see that one of the focus areas is linked to a plan. The number of links can be viewed along with when the last link was made. As well as linking to plans you can also link to your portfolio stories.

What’s useful about this is that once you've started working on this cycle and linking your evidence in Storypark to the focus areas, you and your managers will have everything that’s relevant at your fingertips – a great focal point for a 1:1 or check-in. Keeping this space updated will take the stress out of working towards appraisal or teacher registration.

Where do I find my focus areas?

Your active cycles appear on your home page of your Educator Portfolio in the focus areas widget.

To find your Home page, simply click on the menu bar in the top left-hand corner of your screen, click the down arrow of your portfolio and click Home.

What is an end-of-cycle review?

A cycle review is a way for yourself or a manager to assess your understanding or progress for a specific cycle. This may include reflection questions or knowledge recall.

Your manager can set a due date for your review to be completed and you will be reminded with a banner when this due date is upcoming.

How to link items to your focus areas

With plans and focus areas, Storypark provides a way to link different parts of your work together so you can show connections, progress, and threads of learning within your practice. In the case of cycles, you can now link your focus areas to your portfolio stories, portfolio plans and centre plans.

Who can see my cycle progress?

Any managers, centre admins and direct managers can see your cycle progress. This includes the content you have put into your cycle as well as the review if your cycle has one.

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