How to write a Teachers AITSL Cover Letter addressing the domain of Professional Engagement
Australian Professional Standards for Teachers are split into three key areas (1) Professional Knowledge (2) Professional Practice and (3) Professional Engagement. In this article we are going to discuss some key ideas around how to answer the section on Professional Engagement.
To do this you can create a few sub-headings taken straight from the standards. I will use these sub-headings below and provide some tips under each heading to help you write your response.
When writing an AITSL Cover Letter yourself, it is a good idea to break your letter up by using these sub-headings. That way, you are explicitly showing the intended reader that you are addressing that specific standard.
Identify and plan professional learning needs
To answer this standard you need to demonstrate HOW you align your professional development with the Professional Standards for Teachers and use this to identify areas to develop further. For example, you may have an example where you have identified a student with special or very specific needs. This could be something such as cultural awareness training, ESL training, or something else.
You simply need to demonstrate that you identified an area where you needed further training and you arranged to do this so that you could deliver a better educational outcome for one or more students. Another example could be an IT skill or software training because you want to incorporate more ICT into the classroom as you noticed that this gets great student engagement and therefore a great learning outcome.
Engage in professional learning and improve practice
This question is asking you to show that you engage in regular professional development training. This is usually an easy one to answer as most Teachers will receive regular training at their school. However, you need to also demonstrate that you engage beyond the school level.
Discuss any conferences that you may have attended, list any relevant online forums that you participate in, etc… Remember to highlight how each type of learning has helped you improve your teaching practice.
Engage with colleagues and improve practice
Do you seek and apply constructive feedback from supervisors and teachers to improve teaching practices? Explain how. For example, do you engage in both formal and informal discussions with supervisors or colleagues to improve your teaching practices? Examples here could be asking other Teachers to observe you teaching to provide tips. This could be to handle a type of student or situation or perhaps to make your lessons more engaging. Everyone can always improve, so think of the ways that you seek to do this.
Apply professional learning and improve student learning
This standard is linked to the standard on professional learning. You will need to discuss how regular learning on your behalf is of benefit to the students. How does increasing your professional knowledge help students learn? Ideas to discuss here would be examples of how you learnt of a new method to make a lesson more interesting e.g. using a new website or software, taking a lesson outdoors and using the elements of nature in your lesson. Remember to highlight how students benefited. How did it improve their learning? Could you see better quality projects being produced? Did the overall results of the assessments show excellent results?
Meet professional ethics and responsibilities
To answer this you need to discuss how you model the behaviour expected of a Teacher. You need to state that all times you treat students and their families, colleagues and staff with respect. You understand the concepts of Equal Opportunity and apply these at all times
In all professional dealings with students, colleagues and the community you make decisions based on the procedures and standards as expected of a person of high standing within the community and within the school.
If you are teaching at a private school, you may also want to make a statement about upholding their specific values in relation to the religion taught at that school.
Comply with legislative, administrative and organisational requirements
Understanding the relevant legislative, administrative and organisational policies and processes required for teachers is very important. To answer this question you should provide examples of where you have complied with procedures.
This includes getting parents to sign permission notes. Show how you have followed procedures for an excursion. Perhaps you have made a formal report to authorities regarding a child being abused. Maybe you have reported a child for violent behaviour. This is not the time to form an opinion, instead it is for you to show that you can follow the procedures and act in a professional manner at all times.
Engage with the parents/carers
Engaging with parents and carers is important in the student’s learning journey. You need to demonstrate that you understand this and show how you engage the parent group and individuals.
This can be as simple as meet and greet (for junior years especially) on arrival each day. Discuss how you might invite parents in to volunteer with reading assistance, art and craft activities, community event days and assemblies. Do you write notes home to parents, or in today’s modern world are you available via email, does your class have an online blog, etc… If you have any student’s with English as a second language, how do you include their parents/carers? Do you have an example of where you have used an interpreter?
Of course there are also the more formal types of engagement such as formal reports and organised parent/teacher meetings.
When completed, your AITSL Cover Letter should only be 4 pages maximum. Your challenge is to ensure that you pack enough responses into the letter to each standard as possible, but also stay within the 4 page limit! As a guide, I would recommend that the domain of Professional Engagement should be a maximum of 1 page in length once written.
The other 3 domains of Professional Knowledge and Professional Practice will need as much room as possible in your letter so it is important that you allow for this.