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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

Teacher Resume, Teacher AITSL Cover Letter, Teacher JobsThis 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

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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

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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?

Summary

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.

Good luck with your job application! If you need a AITSL Cover Letter Template to help you get started, Resume Templates Australia has AITSL Cover Letter samples available for immediate download.

Job applications for Teachers are required to write a Cover Letter that addresses the AITSL Standards for Teachers. In broad terms, these standards can be categorised into the three domains of teaching, namely the areas of Professional Knowledge, Professional Practice, and Professional Engagement.

But how exactly do you write a 4 page AITSL Cover Letter? The Department of Education guidelines that a Cover Letter should be a maximum of 4 pages long. So how do you make sure in this 4 pages that you are saying the right things?

We have some great practical tips for you. As a professional Resume Writer that has prepared many job applications for Teachers, I am happy to share with you some insights into how to answer some of the tricky AITSL questions!

Tip 1 – Create a framework for your Cover Letter

Visit the Education Department website and get a copy of the AITSL Standards. Copy the key headings into a WORD document. This will form the framework for your Cover Letter.

Tip 2 – Jot down key examples that demonstrate your teaching style or where you have had a positive impact on one or more students.

Go thru each heading and write down any good practical examples of where you have met the criteria. At this stage do not worry about writing something under every heading. Just do a quick pass thru. You should be able to come up with at least 6 good quality examples.

Tip 3 – Use the SAO or STAR approach for each AITSL standard where possible

Government job application expect candidates to take either a SAO or STAR approach to answering criteria. What is this? Well, SAO is an acronym for Situation, Action, Outcome. STAR is an acronym for Situation, Task, Action, Response.

Essentially for each example that you have provided to demonstrate how you meet a criteria, you also need to specifically outline a scenario/situation, what action you took and how this had a positive outcome as a result. Personally I stick to the SAO approach as the STAR approach can make your responses sound quite wooden and forced.

Tip 4 – Do You Know the content and how to teach it?

Addressing this question also delves into the subheading: Content and teaching strategies of the teaching area

To respond to this question 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  whether you have any good examples of teaching strategies that you have used? Perhaps 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 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.

Summary

Writing an AITSL Cover Letter takes a lot of work and time. The end result, if done well, will make the difference between getting short-listed for your next Teaching job or not. If you are finding that writing an AITSL letter is taking up too much of your time, and that you are struggling, visit our Teachers templates page and Download a pre-written AITSL Cover Letter.

View our list of Teacher's Resume templates and Teacher's AITSL Cover Letter templates by clicking here.

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