Having a highly accomplished teacher on staff effects the whole school in a positive way, there is an on-site mentor, a source of knowledge and an inspiration for colleagues.
Queensland’s independent schooling sector is contributing to a growing body of evidence that confirms the role accomplished teachers are playing in student and school improvement.
A new research paper commissioned by Independent Schools Queensland (ISQ) and authored by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) shows how the nation’s growing contingent of nationally certified Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers (HALTs) demonstrate their influence on student learning, peer professional growth and school improvement.
“When teachers know and can tell others about their impact in compelling and convincing terms, it not only helps teachers deepen their self-awareness about why their practices are effective, but it can inspire colleagues to learn from their experience,” QUT School of Teacher Education and Leadership Associate Professor Jill Willis says.
“Certified HALTs provide expert, site-based and differentiated professional support for early career teachers, colleagues who are new to the school, and lead peers and teams in spreading innovative practice.”
To date, 86 Queensland independent school teachers have achieved HALT standing. There are almost 900 nationwide.
Year 3 teacher with 8 years’ experience Lachlan Libke from The Rockhampton Grammar School has brought innovation and improved rigor to his teaching practice after achieving HALT status.
“HALT certification has had a significant impact on my teaching. It has made me more aware of using student data to influence planning. The certification process encouraged me to innovate and as a result, I have created dedicated Excel spreadsheets that automate student data into single datasheets which I can easily share with students, parents and colleagues.
“The process has also given me the confidence to ask students and parents for their feedback on units of work. Through this communication I have found my units evolving each year, making for more engaging student outcomes. I have also been able to connect more with my student and parent groups as I can better communicate how their child has progressed throughout the year.
“Positively, I see the need for teachers being evaluators of impact as the basis for in-class differentiation. It also makes teachers focus on interpersonal relationships between teacher/student/parent. Being aware of changing student data, student/parent perceptions is important for a harmonious classroom; especially in a primary context where you work together for an entire year,” he says.
More than 70 Queensland independent school teachers are currently working towards certification at the two most advanced levels of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers – Highly Accomplished and Lead.
ISQ Chief Executive Officer Chris Mountford said the new research was the second stage of a three-year collaborative project with QUT that delved into how HALTs evidenced their impact in the classroom and beyond.
Mr Mountford said key findings from the second phase of the project confirmed that despite the diversity of contexts in which teachers worked, there were common characteristics of “quality evidence of impact”.
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