The introduction of Highly Accomplished and Lead Teachers will not only keep exceptional teachers in the classroom, it will also raise the quality of teaching, Carly Sopronick says.
The Master Teacher at Atherton State High School, who is a passionate advocate for engaging students in lifelong learning, has been certified as a Lead Teacher.
“As a sixth-year teacher, I regularly participate in projects and any opportunity that will improve my practice, The certification process provided me with an opportunity to gain recognition for that work, rather than wait years to have that same recognition for being experienced,” Carly says.
“The process is a fabulous opportunity for teachers to receive positive acknowledgement for the quality of their teaching, rather than the quantity of the years that they have been in the system,” she says. “For the profession, it means an improvement in teacher quality as we concentrate on a more focused alignment to the standards -- it is making teachers more aware of what it means to be a teacher in the 21st century. Building my application provided so many opportunities to reflect on my practice.”
“The HAT/Lead certification process encourages teachers to stay in the classroom — in primary schools there are limited opportunities for teachers to become HODS and HOCS and this allows the recognition for those that lead across their schools. In a high school, there are more opportunities to lead through HOC and HOD roles, but many classroom teachers lead processes and teams in their departments and across the school, and this certification acknowledges this work.”
She says the application process also highlights the need for teachers to work more collaboratively, instead of working in isolation, as the standards focus significantly on working in teams both within the school context but also externally.
Currently, as a Master Teacher she has a Year 9 English class, but has taught across all year levels in English as well as in a multitude of curriculum areas through team-teaching. She’s also the co-founder and co-coordinator of the regional Cluster Collaboration Network, alongside Tracey Peden, a fellow Lead Teacher.
The collegial network has existed for two years and provides opportunities for teachers across both primary and secondary sectors to share pedagogical practices and build relationships.
“I love working in education, being able to engage students in learning is really rewarding. I have four teenage daughters and can see the impact teachers have on their ways of thinking about the world. I am also really passionate about working with adult learners -- teachers embody that whole concept of a lifelong learner — that desire to learn new ways of teaching and learning never stops,” Carly says.
Carly's tips for applying for Lead Teacher certification:
Find a buddy - Find someone else who is going through the process to share the experience with. It isn't just the academic support, but being able to share the challenges, bounce ideas and gain reassurance.
Positive recognition - Remember to give yourself a pat on the back for all the wonderful things that you are doing and don't just look at the deficits.
Get on the page - We always tell students once they are on the page they have something to work with. Start writing; start writing early, start those annotations early.
Currency - Focus on what you already do to meet the standards, rather than trying to create new artefacts or projects just to fill the gaps.