Madonna Archibald shares her experience of Lead Teacher certification as well as the benefits for herself, her school and her students.
Highly Accomplished Teacher and Lead Teacher (HAT and LT) certification is keeping our high-performing teachers in classrooms across the Cairns Diocese.
The nationally-recognised and highly coveted HAT and Lead Teacher certification allows experienced teachers to advance their career, receive recognition for the impact of their practice and have a positive impact within their school community.
Our Lady Help of Christians School Teacher Madonna Archibald achieved Highly Accomplished Teacher certification in 2019, and this year the top-performing teacher achieved Lead Teacher certification.
Why did you decide to pursue Lead Teacher certification?
The decision to pursue Lead Teacher certification started quite soon after achieving HAT certification. The professional growth and work satisfaction I felt at this stage was very high and I was keen to keep this momentum and level of engagement going.
Throughout the HAT certification process I identified areas of particular interest and professional growth. Through this reflective practice I believed I could continue to make some positive impacts for my students and colleagues across the school. To embark on Lead certification was a natural progression for me.
What was the process like for Lead Teacher certification?
Already having the experience of the process to certification, made the decision to take on Lead less daunting. However, the realisation of how much more was involved at the Lead level soon became evident.
I needed to be very methodical, confident, assertive, and focused with what I wanted to achieve. Additionally, ensuring my timeframes were realistic and achievable were paramount. A major difference between HAT and Lead was the scope of my impact and how many stakeholders I needed to consider and that their support was crucial if my submission was to become a reality.
What are the benefits of certification for yourself, your colleagues, and your students?
Certification puts me in a strong position to guide and support my colleagues at the classroom level, where it matters most. I offer advice and give intentional feedback based on my years of experience and classroom perspective, which is well received, because it is current and practical.
My professional engagement has intensified, and I am able to use this knowledge to support and build connections with early career and experienced teachers. I offer suggestions that are evidence based blended with strategies that have had success in real contexts. Establishing these support networks are essential to building collective teacher efficacy and are truly valued.
The most significant benefit of certification has been the level of self-reflection that innately happens throughout the process. This involves identifying strengths, passion, and areas of growth to continue best practice and targeted professional learning.
It is my hope that my Lead Initiative focus and attention to detail ultimately had the largest impact on student achievement and wellbeing. I used data and had multiple collegial discussions across the school, and this formed the basis for identifying and informing students of their successes and providing appropriate challenges where needed. I believe this approach has maximised my impact on students.
What advice would you give to other teachers who may be interested in applying for HAT or Lead certification?
Take the leap. Be recognised for the amazing teacher and professional that you already are. Reach out to HALTs who have been through the process and are happy to support. They have the expertise, valuable insights and some great tips and tricks that will support your certification journey. The learning and growth are exponential and so rewarding.
Find out more about our Cairns Diocese HAT and Lead Teachers as well as Highly Accomplished and Lead Teacher Certification. ‘