When Ruth Graham found out she was Queensland’s first certified Highly Accomplished Teacher (HAT) she ran down the hallway shouting “I got it!”.
“It was the recognition,” the Aldridge State High School teacher explains. “A lot of work goes into that application, so I was really happy,” she says.
“I feel like there are a lot of us out there that do go that extra mile -- we don’t just go and teach in our classroom and go home, we do do a lot of other things as well around the school and sometimes it’s not really recognised.”
Recognition is one of the great benefits of being certified as a Highly Accomplished Teacher or Lead Teacher, but for Ruth it was always about self-reflection.
“Initially I applied to see where I was -- where I was at in the standards and how I stacked up against the descriptors and then I found it a bit of a challenge, it made me think about what I had done, but initially it was really a self-reflection tool if anything,” Ruth says.
“Even if I hadn’t got the position, it was still very beneficial for me to do it because it really highlighted those areas to me that I’m not as strong in.”
She thinks the introduction of the new certification process is “brilliant”.
“It’s incentive for our really, really good teachers to stay; to keep all of these young innovative teachers that are coming in,” Ruth says.
“It also gives you something to strive for. It gives you more incentive to better yourself, to do more professional development, to learn more and become better at your craft – I think it is a really good idea, they should have brought it in years ago,” she says.
“It stops you being stagnant. There is a real sense of accomplishment there.”
The Year 11 Coordinator, who came to teaching later in life after studying Zoology and Ecology, has been teaching at Aldridge State High School since she started her teaching career in 2009.
She says she spent “a lot of hours” on her HAT application — working on it solidly every day for two weeks.
“More work than I have ever done for any other application!” Ruth says.
Ruth's tips for teachers considering applying for HAT Certification:
Start prepping as soon as you can, so you can get your work together as soon as you can.
Start putting your hand up for roles around the school. Go to your principal or deputy and say, "Hey, I would like to run this program at the school", or "I would like to write this particular program."
Don't just sit on ideas, but actively look for opportunities.