Professional Knowledge for Teachers AITSL Cover Letters explained – how to answer with great examples
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 Knowledge.
To do this, sub-headings from the standards so that the reader will see that you are specifically addressing each standard.
Teaching Standards | Professional Knowledge
Know Students and how they learn
This teaching standard refers to the Physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students. You will need to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics of students and how these may affect learning.
To answer this, think about whether you have any examples of teaching strategies where you have adapted your lesson to suit the physical, social or intellectual development stage of students. Examples may include creating games to make learning engaging, creative spaces e.g. tents, themed reading zones, etc..
Understand how students learn
This teaching standard is looking for you to demonstrate your knowledge and understanding of research into how students learn and the implications for teaching.
To answer this, think about any examples where you have used recent research or professional advice e.g. from a mentor, colleague, principal, to change your teaching program in response to HOW children learn. Examples may include learning by doing e.g. cooking teaches measurement, sorting smarties into colours can be used to chart on graphs to teach statistics, etc…
Students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds
This teaching standard is looking for you to demonstrate knowledge of teaching strategies that are responsive to the learning strengths and needs of students from diverse linguistic, cultural, religious and socioeconomic backgrounds. Try to provide examples where you have incorporated a lesson around a particular student in your class. Perhaps you have a migrant student, or a student where English is their second language. Try to demonstrate how you have helped other students relate to this student by including a subject specific to that students background.
Strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students
In Australia it is important to be demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the impact of culture, cultural identity and linguistic background on the education of students from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander backgrounds.
If you have any experience working with Aboriginal students, highlight any special lessons that you have designed and implemented, or an adaptations to programs to ensure an inclusive educational environment for these students.
Perhaps you put those at literacy or numeracy risk in smaller focus groups? Did you provide specialised teacher assistance? Did you change the content slightly to make more relatable or relevant?
Differentiate teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities
For this teaching standard you need to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of strategies for differentiating teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.
In every class there are children of different abilities. You need to outline how do you differentiate your teaching to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities. Examples may include a graded reading program, different maths tasks based on progress, etc…
Strategies to support full participation of students with disability
Can you demonstrate broad knowledge and understanding of legislative requirements and teaching strategies that support participation and learning of students with disability? To answer this, you will need to have taught children with disabilities. If you have, outline how you modified classes or activities to ensure that they are included. For example, in Physical Education a student in a wheelchair can help with scoring, umpiring or taking photos.
Know the content and how to teach it
Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area
For this teaching standard, you need to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the concepts, substance and structure of the content and teaching strategies of the teaching area.
Think about any good examples of teaching strategies that you have used. Perhaps you have an example where you have designed a particularly interesting lesson e.g. collecting samples of leaves, drawing different shapes, a fictional shopping lesson to use money, etc… In other words, a fun practical lesson that all the kids enjoyed and learned from.
Have you demonstrated the ability to plan, structure and sequence learning programs to create productive learning environments that engage all students? In particular have you used any techniques to turn boring lessons into something more interesting? E.g. teaching statistics by performing a class survey of who likes kit kats, mars bars, etc… then compiling the results into a table and graph.
Curriculum, assessment and reporting
Do you have experience in design and implementing teaching programs that are in alignment with the curriculum? This is different to actually teaching classes that have already been designed by others, and demonstrates a more advanced or experienced teacher.
Understand and respect Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to promote reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians
Do you have any experience working in any remote or rural places with indigenous students?
Have you organised any special lessons or events in relation to indigenous culture?
Literacy and numeracy strategies
This is a key standard and learning area for which you need to demonstrate that you know and understand literacy and numeracy teaching strategies and their application in teaching areas.
To answer this, do you have any experience at teaching strategies to improve student learning in these areas? Examples may include: storyboards, using rhythm instruments to count syllables in a word, translating word problems into maths problems, etc…
Information and Communication Technology (ICT)
ICT is very important in the school curriculum nowadays. Do you use Technology in the classroom regularly? In what ways? e.g. mathletics, smartboard, learning games, research, social media?
When completed, your AITSL Cover Letter should only be 4 pages maximum. I would recommend that the domain of Professional Knowledge should be a maximum of 2 pages in length once written. This is a key area of your job application and you should be providing quality teaching examples to form the main body of your application.