Indooroopilly State High School Science and Physics teacher Ruth MacLean was among 30 outstanding Queensland teachers celebrated at the TEACHX Awards at Customs House last night.
Mrs MacLean was one of five finalists in the Queensland College of Teachers TEACHX Awards for her leadership in developing innovative learning programs that boost secondary school students’ results. The award went to St Aidan’s Anglican Girls’ School music teacher Carla Trott.
The popular Irish-born Indro teacher, pictured above with her ever supportive husband, Cal, said the awards night was an amazing celebration of the profession. “It was an honour to share a space with teachers who are doing phenomenal things, and to be validated for what we’re doing.”
Mrs MacLean, a former electrical engineer who came to Australia to implement the 3G network, is Head of Department for Learning and Teaching and manages Indooroopilly State High’s English as an Additional Language/Dialect (EALD) program.
Over the past 12 years, she has forged a reputation for re-engaging students in their learning and lifting their NAPLAN results, as well as dramatically increasing peer observation and collaboration among staff at her schools.
In her previous school, Ipswich State High School, a large number of students were struggling to achieve National Minimum Standards (NMS) for NAPLAN numeracy results. As the Head of Whole School Numeracy, Mrs MacLean looked for trends in the data to identify hotspots, just as she had in her previous career.
As the Head of Whole School Numeracy, Mrs MacLean introduced QuickSmart, a University of New England program that centred around responsive small-group intervention to improve the learning experience of at-risk students in Year 7. QuickSmart saw the number of students achieving NMS increase from 76.3 per cent to 96.1 per cent. Mrs MacLean is pleased to see the program, continues today and now incorporates literacy intervention.
Since 2016 Mrs MacLean has been working at Indro, developing a new Physics program that has brought an increase in student enrolment and success.
As Head of Department Learning and Teaching/EALD, she has overseen the number of teachers engaging in teacher observation cycles doubling, leading to more feedback, collaboration and growth in pedagogy.
Mrs MacLean said she was touched that she was being acknowledged by her teaching peers, citing collaboration with others as invaluable. “There’s a wealth of knowledge in schools. The work that I have been able to do is the direct result of collaboration with other teachers,” she said.
She said one piece of advice offered to her by a Head of Department had stayed with her.
“To every challenge or every adversity, there is an opportunity for growth. Even if it takes you some time to see that path. To not be too disheartened in the moment and to see what it is that you can learn from that and take that forward,” she said.
Mrs MacLean said it was particularly satisfying to teach young people from Years 8 to 12 and help them develop into lifelong learners.
As a teenager growing up in Belfast, she went to her parents in Year 10 and advised them that she wanted to follow in their footsteps and become a teacher. They told her they weren’t sure it was a great idea, so she went into electrical engineering and ended up working for Nokia.
Now they are pleased to accept that ultimately their daughter made the right choice.
Finalists receive $500 for professional development, with winners receiving $5000.