Not everyone becomes a Highly Accomplished Teacher.
Reaching this career stage takes a lot of experience and passion for teaching. You’ll need to know your stuff, but you also need to become an integral part of your school community.
To become a Highly Accomplished Teacher, you must reach each of the Highly Accomplished descriptors in the seven Australian Professional Standards for Teachers. After this, you can go through the process to become certified.
So are you ready to become a Highly Accomplished Teacher? More importantly… are you already there?
High-Level Teaching Practice
Highly Accomplished Teachers need to be very good teachers. You’ll need to be confident in the classroom and have a range of strategies for engaging your students.
You must be confident enough with a wide range of teaching strategies to use them effectively. You should have enough strategies under your belt to thrive in any situation that you’re put in.
If you’ve only ever taught in one school, this could be difficult. You’ll need to show that you achieve great outcomes for gifted, special needs, culturally diverse and socially disadvantaged students.
You’ll also need to keep up-to-date. If you’ve taught the same program for the last ten years, it will be difficult to prove that you’re a Highly Accomplished Teacher.
Supporting your Colleagues
A key element of the Highly Accomplished career stage is supporting your colleagues. For every one of the seven standards, you will need evidence that you support your colleagues to improve their practice.
You can be a fantastic teacher in the classroom, but to be Highly Accomplished, you need to be fantastic outside of the classroom as well.
This can be a challenge for teachers who struggle with the collaborative aspects of teaching. Teachers are facing more and more collaborative requirements every year. However, one of the most impactful things teachers can do is work together.
There are many ways to support your colleagues at the Highly Accomplished level. Unlike the Lead Teacher career stage, the Highly Accomplished descriptors don’t specify how many people you need to work with or support.
You could be working with a pre-service teacher or team-teacher. You could work in a formal action research group or with other teachers in your subject area. Who you work with doesn’t matter, but you need to share your teaching expertise beyond your classroom.
Remember: to become a Highly Accomplished Teacher, it’s not enough to just meet the standards. You need to prove it.
You’ll need to make sure that you have evidence to show that you’ve met every descriptor in the APST before you can become certified. To make it more complex, for some of these descriptors, you’ll need multiple pieces of evidence.
Because of this, you will need to consciously collect this evidence to build a portfolio. You’re going to need to be a little strategic.
In every school, there are ample opportunities to demonstrate that you’re a Highly Accomplished Teacher. Most schools have small working groups where teachers share practice. All schools will have curriculum meetings where teachers can share resources, documents and programs.
Whatever avenue you choose, make sure that you’re collecting pieces of evidence. In particular, collect evidence that you’re working with other teachers. You can do this by:
- Creating minutes for every meeting, even small ones.
- Summarising conversations in emails that you can then use as evidence.
- If planning together, create collaborative documents that show who is contributing and how.
- Observe other teachers’ lessons, and invite them to observe yours.
Widening your Impact
Becoming a Highly Accomplished Teacher is all about widening your impact.
You don’t necessarily have to be better at teaching than a Proficient Teacher, but you need to influence more than just your class. If you’re interested in improving learning outcomes for more than just your own students, maybe working towards being a Highly Accomplished Teacher is for you.
Remember as well, you don’t need to become certified. If you’re just looking for ways to progress your career or just become a better teacher, the Highly Accomplished descriptors of the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers provide a guide.