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.
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..
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...
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.
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?
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…
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.
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.
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.
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?
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.